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Three good reasons to invest in our children's intangibles

The most valuable lesson I learned during my legal career was this: Anyone can learn what’s in the books. It’s the intangibles that matter.

What are intangibles?

Simply put, intangibles are assets lacking physical substance. They cannot be seen or touched. Yet, they have intrinsic value. Great value.

When we think about an organization, intangible assets include things like its intellectual property, its relationships and its brand. When we think about individuals, it’s not that different. Our intangibles include our soft talents, our interpersonal skills, and our approach to things.

I once thought these were personality traits, fixed in nature. Over time, I learned they are in fact part of what we call executive functions, the cognitive abilities we need to control our thoughts, emotions and actions to reach chosen goals. They are not set when we are born. They gradually develop and can be improved over the course of our lives.

Why is this relevant to our children’s development?

Historically, the value of an organization was determined based on its tangible assets. Numbers reflected on the balance-sheet. That is no longer the case. Today the biggest assets an organization holds are its intangibles assets, and market studies have shown that, in successful organizations, brands and other intangibles represent, on average, two to three times the value of physical assets. They define an organization’s identity, increase its corporate net worth and enhance its competitive edge.

The same holds true for individuals and, in particular, for our children.

We live in an idea-based world, where the focus has shifted from traditional physical assets and technical skills, to soft skills; our competence to identify issues and see them from multiple angles, our ability to understand and manage our emotions and perceive and understand the emotions of others, and our imagination to see outside-the-box solutions and implement them effectively.

Think about Steve Jobs. What made him stand out? He wasn’t an engineer, so we know it wasn’t his technical skills that set him apart. It was his leadership, his ability to see what was missing in the market, and his vision to create innovative solutions. His intangibles.

So, here are three reasons to invest in our children’s intangibles:

  • To help them define their own identity;

  • To help them achieve their life goals; and

  • To help them stand out.

In sum, to help them design their uniqueness, succeed, and establish their personal brand.

How can we do this?

The same way organizations do it: identifying, investing, and promoting.

Children need spaces to explore their likes and dislikes and find their personal approach to things. They need multiple entry points to activate their talents and they need ongoing challenges to perfect them. There is no absolute formula, and there are many channels to do it.

At BLENDED arts, we chose bilingualism and the arts as learning subjects and also as developmental channels. We combine multiple disciplines, engage multiple entry points and keep always present the importance of giving children a choice. This translates into enhanced cognitive skills (stay tuned for upcoming posts, if you want to learn more).

No matter what learning channel you choose, keep investing in your children’s intangibles. Knowledge and technical skills may get our children through the school years, but if we want them to stand out and succeed in life, we need to help them go beyond.

Because anyone can learn what’s in the books. It’s the intangibles that matter.

What thoughts can you share? I would love to hear your comments. And if you found this post interesting, feel free to share it. Thank you!

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