“Mind in the Making” by Ellen Galinsky–Giving Your Child the Skills to Succeed in Any Era

It’s no accident that I wrote about Ellen Galinsky’s excellent new book, Mind in The Making (HarperStudio, 2010) on the same day that I blogged about the skills needed to succeed professionally in the new economic era.

They directly relate, and that’s what makes Galinsky’s book so important. This is especially true for busy parents who may wonder, “Where should I put my limited resources to prepare my child for life in a world I’m still trying to understand?”  Mind in the Making will tell you where and how.

The book opens with a great quote about how the world has changed profoundly since many parents were children:

“Think about some words that describe what life is like today.  What words come to mind?

Did your words reflect the challenges of living in a complicated, distracting world?  Did you think of words that describe feelings of being rushed, time starved, of having too much to do and not enough time to do it?…

Life today is all of these things—complex, distracting, multitasking, 24/7, stressful and focused on immediate gratification and test scores.  It is also joyful and full of exciting possibilities.  We know that if it is this way for us, it is only going to be more so for our children.  We all want the best for our children, but how do we help them not only survive but thrive, today and in the future?”

The book clearly outlines “The Seven Essential Skills Every Child Needs.”  And, most importantly, Galinsky shares numerous concrete steps to build each of those skills from which busy parents, teachers and caregivers can choose.  The “Seven Skills” include:

  1. Focus and Self Control—achieving goals in a world full of distractions.
  2. Perspective Taking—figuring out how others think and feel.
  3. Communicating—determining what to communicate and being understood.
  4. Making Connections—figuring out what’s the same, what’s different and sorting things into categories.
  5. Critical Thinking—searching for valid and reliable knowledge to guide beliefs, decisions and actions.
  6. Taking on Challenges—taking on rather than simply avoiding or coping with challenges.
  7. Self-directed, Engaged Learning—realizing our potential through ongoing learning.

To understand how important the information in Mind in the Making is to laying the foundation for a child’s future success, consider what CEOs said were their top concerns in the coming year.  According to the Conference Board’s 2010 CEO Challenge Survey, senior leaders will be focused on growth, innovation, creativity, quality reputation, and customer service.  A child who has the “Seven Skills” would be ready to execute that vision, and succeed.

Contrast that readiness to the way current employees, their parents, are feeling in this new post-Recession era.  According to the 2010 Towers Watson Global Employment Survey of 20,000 workers across the global, they are afraid, insecure, and distrustful.  They are lacking the resilience to rise to the challenges of a global, 24/7 economy in which rapid change is the norm and self-direction of your work, life and career is required.

By following the steps outlined in Mind in the Making, children will have the skills they need to succeed.  And maybe their parents will learn something in the process as well!

To learn more about and follow Mind in the Making and author, Ellen Galinsky, here are some important links:

6 thoughts on ““Mind in the Making” by Ellen Galinsky–Giving Your Child the Skills to Succeed in Any Era

  1. hey cali, i’m curious — what would you have pinned as the skills or attributes we or our parents were raised to exhibit? i wonder if they would be different? and whether the angst we are feeling is more that our world has been changing so rapidly and our awareness of everything happening, both near and far, is so much more amplified and omnipresent. thoughts?


    1. Fran,
      As always, great question. I would say that it’s not that our parents didn’t need or have these skills or attributes, but that they are even more important today if our kids are going to succeed. I heard Seth Godin speak this week and he said something I think is very true–the Recession is never going to be “over” in terms of things going back to the way they were because the Recession was the death of the Industrial Age. In our parents day, and even for much of our day, you could show up, do your job and be guaranteed a relatively consistent career path and living. Today, kids need to be much more self-directed, creative and resilient as they chart a path that isn’t guaranteed or clear in a world full of distraction. While on one level that sounds very scary, on another level, with the right skills it’s a reality full of opportunity. What I like about Ellen’s book is that it shows busy parents where to invest their limited time and money for greatest impact. These are interesting times…


  2. honestly, once we settle into it, i think the changes we’re experiencing will be quite freeing. the rub is that it’ll only be so for those who have the skills, which brings us back to education and our woes there. and that, my friend, is too depressing a conversation for a beautiful friday…


  3. I sure wish there was some of this back when I was muddling through the parent thing. What I like about the “skills” (more like skillsets) you outline are that they’re not designed for a particular future. They would have stood an child born in an earlier century in good stead as much as they will one growing to maturity today.

    1. Hi Wally,

      I agree…what Ellen has done, so elegantly, is reintroduce and frame the “how to” for developing those skillsets in a way that’s accessible for busy parents, teachers etc. Thanks for the comment!


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