I recently went through a 24-page paper McKinsey published back in 2009 about the economic impact of the achievement gap in schools. I was blown away by their findings on illiteracy.
Here's a quick summary of the three main areas of impact — most of it be blatantly obvious to you:
Social Impact: Illiteracy causes low self-esteem, shame, fear and powerlessness. It limits a person's ability to fully participate in society, including informed decision-making, personal empowerment, and community engagement. This leads to difficulties with finding work, paying bills, and securing housing, and ultimately affects future generations and society as a whole.
Multigenerational Impact: Illiteracy often perpetuates from one generation to the next due to the negative feelings and nonverbal communication about literacy and schooling from uneducated parents to their children. Research shows that parental education is connected to the literacy of their children, with children who are read to frequently by a family member having a higher chance of scoring well in reading tests. Having access to books and more years of schooling also helps break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy, giving individuals the power to improve their lives through education.
Economic Impact: Illiteracy is linked to poverty and missing opportunities in society and the workforce. According to research, people with low literacy skills are more likely to be in poverty, have lower health outcomes, and are more likely to need public financial aid. Low literacy is also associated with unfavorable labor market outcomes, such as lower wages.
In short, illiteracy kills economic opportunity for individuals, fills them with social insecurity and shame and is passed on from generation to generation.
And McKinsey is only talking about reading literacy.
Let me bring your attention to a few other kinds that are completely overlooked by this study — and most people in general...
- Financial literacy
- Physical literacy
- Emotional literacy
- Communication literacy
- Business literacy
What about the impact of being illiterate in any or all of these areas?
There's much talk about "emotional intelligence" these days. I don't think it's a useful term. I think "emotional literacy" is a way more actionable idea.
Most people out there have zero clue how money works because they're financially illiterate. They're sick because they're physically illiterate. They're frustrated and depressed because they're emotionally illiterate. And they can't hold a relationship together because they're "communicationally" illiterate.
One of the reasons I'm so bullish on NLP and modeling is because it offers a code to acquire any literacy we need to negotiate our next step.
Once we have that, just imagine the confidence it builds in us that we can accomplish what we truly want...
Imagine the confidence and certainty you can transfer to your coaching clients once you have these tools in your back pocket...