My name is Mark Goodfield. Welcome to The Blunt Bean Counter ™, a blog that shares my thoughts on income taxes, finance and the psychology of money. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant. This blog is meant for everyone, but in particular for high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations. My posts are blunt, opinionated and even have a twist of humour/sarcasm. You've been warned. Please note the blog posts are time sensitive and subject to changes in legislation or law.

Monday, January 29, 2018

If You Are Not Learning – You Are Forgetting

As noted in October, I am planning to write occasional blog posts under the title “Let Me Tell You” that delve into topics that may a bit more philosophical or life lessons as opposed to the usual tax and financial fare. Today I discuss the importance of always striving to increase your knowledge by continuously learning.

My father-in-law, who is a very knowledgeable and smart man, has a saying “If you are not learning, you are forgetting”. He has repeated this mantra to his family and grandchildren for as long as I have known him. What a brilliant adage.

Knowledge is vital to our growth and understanding as people. It is also scary, since I seem to need post-it notes to remember anything these days, so I am hoping my knowledge inflow is exceeding my forgotten knowledge outflow 😊 But seriously, this is a great adage and I want to examine it in a little more detail today.

How To Keep Learning

My father-in-law and mother-in-law have sat in on classes at The University of Toronto for years, read vociferously and are patrons of the arts. While I am not exactly a “knowledge expert” it would seem to me the best ways to keep learning are as follows:

  • Attending courses & seminars at a college, university, library, or anywhere someone is speaking on a topic that interests you.
  • Reading books, newspapers, blogs (especially this one), etc.
  • Watching Videos and Listening to Podcasts – For many people, videos and podcasts are now their go to sources for knowledge.
  •  Listening and Observing – We meet many people who are far more intelligent and/or knowledgeable than us (or at least than me). Personally, I have found this source of knowledge to be my favourite, since in many cases, knowledgeable people are able to explain their thoughts in “plain English”, which is not always the case when reading a book or attending a lecture.

Knowledge Increases Our Awareness Of Our Ignorance

In 1962, while speaking at Rice University on the space program, President John F. Kennedy said, “The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.” While the context of this comment was in relation to space travel it is a brilliant observation for life in general. The more we learn, the more we realize what we don’t know. Those who are self-aware enough to understand this never become arrogant or at least only slightly and are always open to learning and collaborating with others.

Why Keep Learning

There are multiple benefits from continuing to learn and increase your knowledge. I would suggest these three are amongst the most important:

1. Increases your chances for success in your chosen job or profession

2. Allows you to better interact with others

3. Provides for the transfer of knowledge to future generations

Job Or Profession

This is self-evident, but the greater knowledge you have about your chosen job or profession, the greater your chance for success and promotion. In addition, your job satisfaction increases, and people want to collaborate with you. General knowledge is also very important for your career as it allows you to connect and be respected by your co-workers on both a personal and professional level.

Interacting With Others

Greater knowledge also helps to make it easier for you to converse with others and have confidence in your comments and opinions. While knowledge and self-awareness do not necessarily go hand in hand, if you are self-aware or at least have spent some time learning about personal behaviour and that of others, you will understand your shortcomings and behavioural tendencies. You will also be able to communicate better with others if you have knowledge of their behaviours.

Generational Transfer of Knowledge

My father-in-law not only spouts the “if you are not learning, you are forgetting” mantra, but acts on it. Over the years he has shared his abundant knowledge either in a group or in a one on one session with his grandchildren. It always amazed me to hear how much the kids got out of the conversation and what they had learned.

While I may not have told you anything new in todays blog post, my objective was to remind you of how important it is to keeping learning, because, if not (chorus of grandkids response)—you are forgetting!

This site provides general information on various tax issues and other matters. The information is not intended to constitute professional advice and may not be appropriate for a specific individual or fact situation. It is written by the author solely in their personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which they are affiliated. It is not intended to constitute professional advice, and neither the author nor the firm with which the author is associated shall accept any liability in respect of any reliance on the information contained herein. Readers should always consult with their professional advisors in respect of their particular situation. Please note the blog post is time sensitive and subject to changes in legislation or law.


  1. You can learn anywhere, but courses are important, especially if you are trying to build up a new skill. For me, I think it is time to start working on my golf game, as retirement may not be too far away, and I want to play, but I am LOUSY at playing right now.

    1. Hey BCM

      Golf is a tough game, but I have seen some determined people work hard and practice hard to become good golfers, so get to it and take some lessons. BTW, if you change to a Leaf logo ball from a Habs logo ball, you automatically improve 5 strokes :)

  2. You list 'attending', 'reading', 'watching', 'listening', and 'observing'. These are all passive activities. The learning is in the doing, and you should revisit this list with a view towards active participation.

    1. Hi Anon, thx for your comments, yes, I agree I probably needed to consider active participation