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3 skills your kids need to succeed

By Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory 1 min read

Forget reading writing and maths, these are the three skills your child needs to do well in life.

1. Creative skills

These include an ability to generate insights, to convert raw materials and information into new formats, to solve problems producing solutions not seen before and personal agility—being able to transition from one context to another with ease and resilience.

Of course, some creative skills can be performed by machines, especially when they involve pattern recognition and extrapolation. But perhaps the most important of these creative problem-solving skills lies in the human ability to connect the seemingly unrelated and generate spontaneous inspiration.

Edward de Bono famously talked about linear and lateral thinkers. We prefer the terms “linkers” and “leapers”. Linkers create through connections, often linking future projects to past reference points, making the new seem familiar. Machines can do this too. However, Leapers have an ability to generate random ideas and then make sense of them. The spontaneity and lack of logic makes this hard to replicate.

2. Communication skills

Often thought of as soft skills although they are anything but, they include our capacity to generate influence around our ideas, to team build, to establish trust and to translate information, not just in terms of national or ethnic languages but between worlds and contexts.

3. Control skills

These are made up of self-control (many schools are now teaching resilience); resource management (which is about more than what we dig out of the ground or ongoing sustainability as it includes things such as judgement and allocation of time and wealth); an ability to establish social order and build consensus around values and right and wrong; and the ability to implement and execute (to move teams, communities and projects into action).

Of course there is much more depth beneath each of these skills, however by shifting our focus from trying to predict an unpredictable future, we believe we would do well to teach our children what will always matter.

Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory are experts in leadership communication and strategic insights, and have helped entrepreneurs build internationally successful businesses. They are the co-authors of "Forever Skills". Theimpossibleinstitute.com.


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