Why is language important when learning and hacking?


Over the course of many years I find that some of the words people use are incredibly important to self-learning and hacking. We as humans learn through experience but we communicate through words which often times lacks the impact of experience. We walk around with the knowledge of immersive experience but fail to communicate all or even the important things through words.

In my work I end up exploring lots of thought domains. Whether it be

  • “learn about capital markets, health care insurnace, manufacturing [or some other industry]” or
  • “learn how to do a business case on this specific initiative [or some other specific method]” or
  • “how can this business innovate and increase its profitability [or some other innovation thinking exercise]”

I’ve got to step in and quickly become fluent in the concepts, ideas and have a language to share thoughts clearly with others.

When I’m ramping up on whatever I’m learning, carefully considering the words people use in speech or writing can impart or share additional meaning.

Now I don’t mean nit-picky things like “i don’t speak good” vs “I don’t speak well”. (That’s fun to poke at with close friends from the neighborhood but its not for everyone). Its also good to be realistic into what you can gain from people’s choice of words (i.e. learn within the domain, not about their personal choices or preferences).

Framing a domain is incredibly important. Just documenting the core concepts and terms can provide a strong base for learning and accelerate your desired outcomes. Too many times I’ve been in a team where we didn’t agree on core terms and meanings it causes frustration, overhead and slows things down. Additionally, if people are inconsistent in how they talk about concepts and terms or frequently change the context they use those words can cause confusion and slow learning.

Getting to clear terms is incredibly important. I love it when someone frames things beautifully. This week i read things such as (more to come):

Strong Beliefs, Loosely Held. This embodies so much knowledge in such a simple space of 4 words. I take it to mean: Be passionate but be flexible. Explore ideas without fear of being wrong but be open to learn from others.

I aspire to document the domains I explore. Please creatively and constructively challenge me to be more clear and articulate as I go.