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  • Writer's pictureMark Walmsley

How to Set Yourself Up for Life Success Before You Reach Age 30


Do you think school and post-school education have taught you everything you need to know to succeed? If not, what subjects were missing; and how might you go about filling the gaps?

In this post we are looking at the why getting a diverse education early in life matters, how it is a 2000+ year old tradition until recently reserved for the elites, and how applying that knowledge can help you succeed.

The main points in this post are:

  1. Life is lived exponentially, invest early

  2. Continue the 2000+ year tradition of getting a diverse education to drive success

  3. Diverse knowledge applied throughout your life is like a super-power!

Life is lived exponentially, invest early

I think we can all agree we get better at things as we age. Whether it’s tying our shoe laces at 3, doing algebra at 13, engineering (or nursing) at 23, managing a team at 33, or owning a company at 43.

One way to view this progress is through an exponential growth curve. Think of it like compound interest, except it is your capability and life success that grows over time. So bear with me while I explain why this matters…

So let’s start with baseline. Imagine that from a base of 100 you grow your capability at 3% per year from age 6 to 60. You’d end up with 222 units of success.

Now suppose you expanded your knowledge at 6% a year from age 18 to 30, then at 3% from 18 to 60. You’d end up with 272 units of success, a 22% improvement on baseline.

But the reality is that you don’t forget knowledge once learned. In reality, your investment from 18-30 continues to yield benefits as you age. So that your success from 30 to 60 also compounds at 6%. Now you end up with 418 units of success, 88% better than the baseline case.

You can see these three scenarios in the chart below.

Now the math here isn’t real, it’s intended to illustrate how you can think about personal growth and how it impacts life success. What’s the key takeaway here:

"Life is lived exponentially; invest early to reap long term success."

Build your knowledge and capability through the best personal growth books

The first recorded use of the term ‘liberal arts’ in relation to education was by Roman emperor Cicero (106-43 BC). At the time a liberal arts education covered seven knowledge areas. These were:

  • The Trivium. Covering grammar, logic, and rhetoric

  • The Quadrivium. Covering arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music (weird huh)

It’s worth noting that a liberal arts education from 50BC to perhaps 1900AD was reserved for the educated elites. Only in the 20th century did education become more widespread.

So what should a ‘liberal arts’ education for the 21st century look like? One that can help you succeed in all aspects of life. How about these 24 knowledge areas?

What we’ve done at Eruditeable is first select the important knowledge areas (see above), and then found the best-in-class book covering that knowledge area. You can see the list of books at Key takeaway:

"You can participate in a 2000 year old tradition of getting a diverse education to power life success."

Success through applied knowledge

So how does gaining a modern day ‘liberal arts’ education by learning the above areas help you succeed? By allowing you to integrate your knowledge across domains.

Having the knowledge – and the ability to apply it in real time during your daily interactions is like a super-power.

  • Having challenges with your team? The insights from the books on leadership, personality, and crucial conversations will help.

  • Facing a financial/commercial challenge with a difficult client? The insights from business management, negotiation, personality, and logical thinking will help.

  • Not sure what to do with your life? Insights from the books on life planning, life principles, thinking big, and the pursuit of happiness will help.

  • Wondering how to make sense of a highly politicized world? Insights from history, politics, morality, world progress, and economics will help.

Key takeaway:

"Diverse knowledge, applied throughout your life, is like a super power!"


By integrating knowledge from different areas – and outside your core profession – you will be able to make inspiring plans for life, solve complicated problems, get promoted at work, and have meaningful relationships.

Is filling the gaps on a broad education something you’re interested in?

Which knowledge area looks most interesting to you?

If you liked this post please consider sharing it with those who might also be interested.

If you haven’t already, you can download a one page summary of all 24 books here, and a completion sheet to check them off here.

About Eruditeable

Eruditeable aims to equip the next generation with the wisdom and knowledge needed to be the best individuals, citizens, partners, parents, managers, leaders, and politicians. In doing so, we aim to improve the lives of these individuals, their friends and families; and the fortunes of their communities and nations.

So what is Eruditeable? It’s an adjective that describes a person who is capable of acquiring great knowledge through deliberate effort.

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