Advice on Child-Raising from Peter Diamandis
Physician Peter Diamandis is best known for his involvement in futuristic projects such as X Prize, Planetary Resources, and Singularity University.
He is the co-author of the books: Abundance, the Future is Better than You Think, and Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World.
Diamandis is the type of wise futurist who understands that the future will be built upon today’s generations of children. If we do a poor job of raising them, the future is unlikely to be optimal.
Here are 5 critical ingredients that new generations will need, according to Diamandis:
1. PASSION: You’d be amazed at how many people don’t have a mission in life. A calling, something to jolt them out of bed every morning.
For my kids, I want to support them in finding their passion or purpose. Something uniquely theirs.
For me, it was exploring outer space. I LOVE space. Apollo and Star Trek ignited my flames. As much as my parents wanted me to become a physician, I was truly (and still am) a space cadet.
My goal for my 4-year-olds is to expose them to as many ideas as I can, and then fan the flames on whatever they want to do. (One of my closest friends loved playing video games in high school. Today he’s one of the world’s top video game designers. You can create a career from any passion!)
2. CURIOSITY: The next attribute that is critical during exponential times is curiosity. It is something that is innate in kids and yet something that most people lose over time.
In a world of Google, robots and A.I., raising a kid that is constantly asking questions and running “what if” experiments can be extremely valuable.
This is mostly because running constant experiments is fundamentally necessary on the path to success.
As Jeff Bezos said about success and innovation: “The way I think about it, if you want to invent, if you want to do any innovation, anything new, you’re going to have failures because you need to experiment. I think the amount of useful invention you do is directly proportional to the number of experiments you can run per week per month per year.”
I constantly ask my kids “what if” questions.
And if they ask, “What if…?” encourage them. Help paint the picture… And try to help them create an experiment to test that hypothetical situation.
3. IMAGINATION: Entrepreneurs and visionaries imagine the world (and the future) they want to live in, and then they create it. Kids happen to be some of the most imaginative humans around… it is critical that they know how important and liberating imagination can be.
Imagination goes hand in hand with curiosity and passion.
Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group, writes: “Imagination is one of humanity’s greatest qualities – without it, there would be no innovation, advancement or technology, and the world would be a very dull place.”
To my kids, the world is certainly not a dull place.
4. CRITICAL THINKING: In a world flooded with often-conflicting ideas, baseless claims, misleading headlines, negative news and misinformation, you have to think critically to find the signal in the noise.
Critical thinking is probably the hardest lesson to teach kids.
It takes time and experience, and you have to reinforce habits like investigation, curiosity, skepticism, and so on.
If you have ever talked to four-year-olds, you’re probably familiar with the “Why?” game.
It goes something like this:
Parent (enthusiastically): “It’s time to go to school!”
Parent: “Because you have to learn how to read and do math.”
Parent: “Because knowing how to read and do math is important.”
Parent (starts to get agitated): “Because… I said so!”
You get the idea.
My advice: Try not to BS them! Try to play this game and help them reason through complicated ideas and topics.
This game, though they don’t even know it, is the basis for critical thinking, and it’s up to you as a parent to encourage them and guide them through the questions.
5. GRIT: One of my favorite phrases these days is from Ray Kurzweil: “You’ve just got to live long enough to live forever.” Though I take it quite literally, it’s also a metaphor for persisting through challenges until you succeed.
Grit is seen as “passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals,” and it has recently been widely acknowledged as one of the most important predictors of and contributors to success.
Teaching your kids that they can’t fail… is critical.
Heck, much of my success comes from not giving up. I joke that both XPRIZE and Zero-G were both “overnight successes after 10 years of hard work.”
You have to make a conscious effort to encourage your kids to keep trying, even if they mess up. ___ http://scienceofsingularity.com/2015/07/27/what-the-next-generation-needs-to-thrive-in-exponential-times/
Diamandis is on the right track on child-raising, even if he fails to publicly acknowledge the importance of “being dangerous” to future generations of children.
The future will not be “pure doom” nor will it be “pure cornucopia.” It will be a hazard-filled mix of dizzying sci-tech advances, and horrifying examples of hate-fueled violence and cruelty on a large scale. Above all, it will be an epic battle between the forces of Idiocracy and those who are working to create an abundant and expansive human future.
Everything depends upon the human substrate, and supplying this group of humans with the technologies and systems of organisation that they will need to prevail over the groupthink Idiocracy of progressive decline.