How I Learned to Avoid Avoiding to Learn

by Alice P. Stapleton Newman, MS-Leadership, Guest Blogger

I love reading the Forbes Quote of the Day each morning at Sometimes the day’s quote really hits home. A recent quote from one day in early May was this:

“Success comes from knowing what you don’t know, more than coming from what you do know.” – Ray Dalio

There was a time in my life when I was terrified of learning something new. Several real reasons for this existed, but initially, I just made excuses. Over time, as I got older, my colleagues, my own employees, and even at times, my superiors…seemed to be getting younger, all while I just aged and faded. That’s when I knew: I had to face my fears.

If I was going to stay viable in the workplace, it was imperative that I keep up with (and even surpass) the other members of my team.  So, I confronted the truth and promised myself that I would change; that I would not become obsolete and outdated.

So I took a pen and paper – drew five columns – and labeled them something like this:


I tapped the paper with my pen for a while, chewed on the cap, and just generally brainstormed these questions.  There were many examples I ended up placing in column one, but the first example’s column’s answers were something along these lines:


It felt great to work through my reluctance in this way. It was cathartic, and after I was done with this simple task, I was ready to move forward. I made the upgrades the next day. And guess what? It did take more than a day to do – but none of my clients complained when I told them why I would be offline for a few days’ time.

I went through this process with all sorts of tasks I was avoiding in my work life. I found three major themes that ran consistently through each and every example I worked through.

  1. The second column (Reasons why I am avoiding this task) always turned out to be nothing but excuses. They were rarely actual, authentic concerns.
  2. The “negative outcomes” (column four) were almost always the same: lose business, lose money, look like a dummy to my peers and clients.
  3. The “positive outcomes” (last column) were also almost always the same: gain business, make clients happy, make more money, increase rates, keep up with my competition.

So now, I don’t let the unknown scare me – I do everything in my power to stay on top of new and emerging industry trends – that way, when something new pops up unexpected, I’m not required to go into full-throttle catch-up mode. And while I work through these questions in my head as a matter of habit, my very own list has too become obsolete, as I now know the golden rule of learning new things:

Don’t wait. Learn now. Because the next trend is upon you, and the guy in the cube next to you already knows how to do it.

Alice P. Stapleton Newman is the owner of Kaldanily Solutions. She is a graphic designer, web developer and entrepreneur.