The last thing you want to do is raise a child who’s just a dull drone, pouring out memorized facts as though facts have the power to save the world. You want to raise a child who will be valued in a future workplace for being creative, confident, and innovative.
But how can you build creative, confident, innovative ability into your child (and yourself!) right now?
In this fascinating 8-minute video, former Yahoo! executive strategist and bestselling author Tim Sanders provides brilliant research-based insight into where creativity and innovation actually come from.
Here’s how you can make these principles of creativity and innovation come alive in your kids:
1. Let your kid know that genius isn’t necessary to accomplish great things
Sanders says that it’s a myth that great innovations come from lone wolf inventors who have sudden “eureka moments” strike like lightening from the sky and change the world. “We want to be heroes,” Sanders says, “so that’s how we tell the story.” Actually, though, Sanders says, true genius creativity comes from another place altogether. It comes from collaboration.
2. Explain to your kid the tremendous value of collaboration
It can be liberating to a 12–22 year old to realize: “Hey, I don’t have to have all the answers! It’s OK if I have one piece of the puzzle and someone else has another piece of the puzzle. It’s even OK if 20 other people are also contributing pieces of the puzzle. We can work together, and in doing so accomplish something bigger than I could ever do on my own.”
As Sanders says: “Little ideas combine with other little ideas, and these improve into game-changing ideas.”
This realization—that it’s OK to have only one piece of the puzzle—helps kids to relax. It relieves pressure and anxiety that can actually stand in the way of creativity and innovation.
3. Talk to your kids about respect for others being foundational to true creativity and innovation
While you’ve on the topic of collaboration, parents, please teach your kids that respect—valuing what others bring to the table—is absolutely necessary for collaboration. Start now. No bullying. No teasing. No labeling others for what they do or don’t have. Make it a point as early as age 12 (or younger) to see all people’s inherent strengths and value them.
4. If your kid shows leadership talent, explain that leaders bring talented people together and give them space to collaborate
The key, Tim Sanders says, is to “marshal people together, spot innovations, put people together into a ‘creative soup.'” People think Steve Jobs was a great innovator, Sanders says, but Steve Jobs himself said: “All I did was notice patterns and put people together to finish projects.”
5. Encourage your kid to look for answers in unlikely places
Tim Sanders puts it this way: “Shatter the myth of the expert.”
It’s a myth, Sanders says, that “experts” can be relied upon to swoop down like Superman and supply creative answers. “Most of the great solutions to vexing problems come from ‘the edges of a domain,” Sanders says, from collaborators who aren’t stuck smack dab in the middle of the space where the problem is at its worst.
“Experts,” says Sanders, “too often fail to collaborate. They don’t want to cede control over their process to anyone outside their little world because they don’t value (other) voices enough. They try to be a lone wolf.”
Until you believe that genius is a team sport, you will never give up control.
6. Emphasize step-by-step problem solving as the key to creativity and innovation
“If you no longer depend on a big eureka idea to fall out of the sky and change the world,” Sanders says, “you meet more. You think more. You research more. You settle with small pieces of progress that add up to momentum.”
It’s liberating for kids to know that success doesn’t come from being a genius lone-wolf miracle-worker. It’s energizing and exciting for kids to realize that plain old-fashioned respect for others and patient problem solving (skills anyone can develop) can take them as far in life as almost anything else.
Sanders says: “The difference between good organizations and world class organizations that win—that sell 20% more than their nearest competitor—the only thing they have in common is they’ve broken this myth (of the expert)—they understand that every deal is about rapid problem solving and no one person can solve the problem on their own.”
7. Encourage academic confidence, not just academic compliance
I (Jeannie Burlowski) help students ages 11–24 develop true academic confidence in my one-afternoon class called The Strategic College Student: How to Get Higher Grades Than Anyone Else by Studying LESS Than Most Other People.
This class helps students to feel extraordinarily confident in academic settings, so they can let go of fear and anxiety, settle the matter of their personal competence once and for all, and then step boldly and bravely into creative collaboration and innovation in high school, in college, and in their future careers. To learn when this class will next be made available, subscribe to my free weekly email newsletter now.
You can view the brilliant 8-minute Tim Sanders video that inspired me to write this post by clicking here.
What joy to raise kids who are innovative, collaborative leaders, set up and ready for successful career life.
For clear, step-by-step help getting your kids through college debt-free and into careers they love afterward, get your copy of my book:
It’s a reference book, so nobody reads the whole thing cover to cover. Pick out what you need to read in it using the fast-paced, 10-minute video instructions here.
You can see hundreds of reviews of this book on Amazon by going to:
You can see why financial advising professionals love LAUNCH, here.
You can see the top 9 questions parents are asking me about LAUNCH, here.
Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.
And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.
Take a step on this right now. Get regular, inspiring help from me—every Monday morning.
Subscribe to my free weekly email newsletter here. (You’ll especially want to do this so I can alert you to important FAFSA changes that will affect you in the future.)
Do you have very specific questions for me about debt-free college and career for your kids?
My TRIBE Members get the most direct access to me—while feeling good that the pennies per day they spend on the TRIBE help me bring debt-free college strategy to families who could never afford to pay for it. Join my TRIBE Membership waiting list here.
Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26, their parents, and the professionals who serve them. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free, ready to jump directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazine, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.
This article was updated on October 12th, 2023. No part of this article was written using AI.