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Become a Legend — Day 17: Build Your Vocabulary

Become a Legend — Day 17: Build Your Vocabulary

Cham­pi­oned by: Scott
Co-authored by: Nevin

DAY 17: Build Your Vocab­u­lary - Learn a New Word and Use It

Take note: your vocab­u­lary can be an extremely pow­er­ful asset, or your worst enemy.

The way you express your­self – ver­bally — tends to define who you are and where you’re from. Kind of like how you can tell what part of the coun­try, or world, some­one grew up in just based from their accent. Or how you assume an intel­li­gence level from a person’s abil­ity (or lack of) to read, write, and/or speak.

IT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE, for lack of bet­ter words.

Here are 3 rea­sons why you should work on improv­ing your vocabulary:

1) You will feel smarter, and come across as more intelligent.

  • Can you think of some­one who’s “well spo­ken” that you wouldn’t con­sider smart? I can’t.

2) You will become more per­sua­sive in every conversation.

  • Ever met a gifted sales­per­son who didn’t have a spe­cial way with words? I haven’t.

3) You will dra­mat­i­cally increase your aca­d­e­mic and future career success.

  • Do you think CEO’s got to where they are with sub-par com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills? I don’t.

Hon­estly, do your­self a favor and take this seri­ously – it’s one of the best invest­ments you can make in your­self. Here’s sev­eral tac­tics that have worked for us:

The Word of the Day

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Highly rec­om­mend just sub­scrib­ing to the “Word of the Day” from Dictionary.com — it’s short, sim­ple, and sweet… while you may not recall all words (actu­ally, you won’t, so don’t pres­sure your­self), some of them will stick. Over time, that will grow into 1–2 new words a week, or 50–100 new words per year.

A trick: try to use the selected word in a con­ver­sa­tion through­out the day, even if you have to force it. For me, if I can use it at least 3 times (extremely man­age­able and easy), there’s a good chance I just locked that word up for later use.

Look Up What You Don’t Know

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Seri­ously, I can’t stress this enough. Typ­i­cally when we come across a word we don’t know in a book, arti­cle, or even hear­ing it, we can deduce its mean­ing through con­text… right? So then we don’t take the time to actu­ally look up the def­i­n­i­tion. This is a bad habit to get into! Look up what the word actu­ally means (actu­ally, a decent amount of time you’ll find it was used incor­rectly, won­der how that happened?).

A trick: if I come across a word I don’t know, I will add it to my “Def­i­n­i­tion Diary” (for me, it’s in my per­sonal jour­nal, but you can make some­thing sim­i­lar in Ever­note or a Word Doc­u­ment). Every week, I’ll go back through the list and write (type) the def­i­n­i­tions of newly added words, and briefly go through words from the past. Give it a shot, you’ll notice your vocab­u­lary sky rocketing!

Start Read­ing and Writ­ing on a Reg­u­lar Basis

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Even if it’s only read­ing for 20 min­utes or writ­ing a brief para­graph in a per­sonal jour­nal every day, this lit­tle effort greatly enhances your reten­tion of new words.

SEE ALSO: Read to Lead, Learn How To Speed Read, and More…

A trick: most shy away from read­ing and writ­ing habit­u­ally because they view it as a chore, or if you’re like me, you don’t want to get started on some­thing with­out being able to reach a bench­mark before fin­ish­ing. For read­ing, this is usu­ally des­ig­nated as a chap­ter, and in writ­ing maybe a page. This can be dis­cour­ag­ing when you might read slower (me, delib­er­ately) or can’t think of what to write about, because it will take “for­ever”. That’s why I rec­om­mend set­ting a time limit on it, like 20 min­utes. This way you’re not putting too much pres­sure on your­self to speed through some­thing and even­tu­ally it will become a habit for you.

We took a minor hia­tus from this series, but now we’re back. Be on the look­out for new chal­lenges over the next few weeks — you can also fol­low the updated series of posts here.

Also, be sure to print out and hang up your Chal­lenge Check­list so you can keep track. You’ll get a sneak peak at what’s to come, but can get fur­ther details with the post asso­ci­ated with each day.

The 31 Day Chal­lenge Checklist

Remem­ber, leg­ends are con­stantly improv­ing them­selves, so it’s up to you to work hard in accom­plish­ing each daily task to help you become the leg­end on your campus.

Good Luck!


Have any unique words in mind that most peo­ple don’t know? Do you know of any com­monly mis­used words? We would love to hear about them in the com­ments below!

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