Thursday, October 15, 2009

Could 10 new days a word boost you to the top one percent?

Of all our human resources, the most precious is the desire to improve. Anon

I've been listening to Dennis Waitley's, Seeds of Greatness, in the car. Today he talked about the value of a large vocabulary. Paraphrasing what he said,

A large vocabulary that implies broad general knowledge, characterizes the most successful people, regardless of occupation. In this brain over brawn economy, learning ten new words a day, would put the average person among the most learned and well-spoken individuals in the world. It is only 3500 words that distinguish the average from the top percent in their fields. Most people use only 400 words in 80 percent of their daily language and this limits their ability to express or understand many concepts. .

I found this concept intriguing. I once taught a creative thinking course and one question we asked as a group was whether you could really "know" a concept if you didn't have a word for it. You've probably heard the oft quoted statement that eskimos have over 100 different words for snow, based on texture, moisture, etc. Does that then mean that those of us who only know "snow" don't have a similar understanding and never could without the additional words? I'm not sure.

According to Ben Macintyre's TimesOnline article, THE MORE WORDS YOU know, the higher you climb the evolutionary ladder.

Words can be hijacked and misused. Powerful men, for good or ill (both Hitler and Churchill), have understood the might of words. In 1940, a 12-year-old boy wrote to President Roosevelt, asking for help expanding his English vocabulary: “I don’t know English but I know very much Spanish and I suppose you don’t know very Spanish but you know very English because you are American.” The boy’s name was Fidel Castro.

Words extend the horizon, and our knowledge of ourselves. When Hamlet in Act II, scene 2, is asked what he is reading, he replies “Words, words, words”. He may seem dismissive, but words are part of Hamlet’s quest: through words, he is seeking the answer to the question of to be, or not.

Word power is not about using a complicated and obscure word where a short or familiar one is already at hand. It is not about waving your vocab around to attract a mate. It is about the discovery of a word to describe something in a new and unexpected way.

Adopt a new word. Take it home. Add it to your word family and introduce it to the others in your collection. They will play with each other, form new patterns and meanings, making the world a little bigger, a little clearer.

Since one of this year's goals is to successfully launch my night light company, a more thorough understanding of economics could only help. And since I've determined this year that I'm going all out and willing to take on what I need to, I decided to add five economic terms each day to my vocabulary. I will start with the Wall Street Journal, where I usually just read the first section and the personal section, but skip the finance and marketplace sections. No more! If I'm going out there to build a company, I'd be better served to know just what a common stock split is;-). Any of you starting a new company this year, feel free to join in. Eileen

No comments:

Post a Comment