In life, as in the law, ignorance is not a valid defense. This means a person’s lack of knowledge, or vocabulary, for whatever reason is no excuse in both the eyes of the legal system and also, I hope, in your eyes as to whether you achieve your goals. The only option is self-education.

By education I am not talking about traditional academic intelligence we are taught in high school and most tertiary institutions. The most powerful self-education is an abstract movement away from the traditional. A simple example recently was when looking at places to put my savings, admittedly I do not have tens of thousands but it is enough for the interest to be of some value. My first step was to learn the language of the banks, learn the difference between a ‘term deposit’ and a ‘savings account’ and as the banks currently have ‘Introductory Bonus’ learn what that means and how I can best take advantage of it.

When I was in primary school our class had the Commonwealth Bank come along each fortnight and we would put $2 away each and every fortnight.  This is a brilliant practice to help develop the habit of saving, but I soon discovered that a ‘Commonwealth Dollarmite’ account paid little to no interest. So in search of a better interest rate for my savings I found that I could get an extra couple of hundred dollars each year if I moved my money into a different account with another banking institution. What’s important is had I chose to simply follow the advice from others to stay with that bank I would have missed out a few hundred dollars, all for about 30mins of searching on the internet.

Now we can take this principal beyond the simple examples and apply it towards our professional intelligence. A study done by Stanford University examined the understanding and extent of vocabulary in relation to the level of position within a business organization and found that without fail every single increase in organizational standing, on average, was equated to an increased control of vocabulary. In other words, as a person increases their control of vocabulary they increase their position, be that from the cleaner all the way up to the CEO.

The study then concluded that by increasing their vocabulary workers would be able to advance their careers at an exponential rate surpassing their superiors who did not have as strong an understanding of the English language. This also means that should you be writing a report or essay the more range in your vocabulary the higher the response will be from teachers or superiors.

We can apply the lessons of the study in our lives by learning the vocabulary of an area you are working on in your life. If you are still at school or some form of tertiary studies I challenge you to learn 5 new words exclusive used within that subject or industry you are trying to crack into. Then next week learn another 5, and then another 5, and watch as your understanding of that subject matter grows exponentially. It’s then a matter of application of your new found knowledge that will propel you to heights of achievement you maybe thought weren’t possible.

Scott Cowley is an 18 year old entrepreneur, writer and student currently writing a book about the opportunities available for Gen Y.


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