The Sum of Success: IQ + Creativity + Practical Intelligence

The Sum of Success: IQ + Creativity + Practical Intelligence

by Dr Shen Li Lee


In Brain Rules for Baby, John Medina quoted The Journal of Happiness Studies which stated that “People who make more than $5 million a year are not appreciably happier than those who make $100,000 a year”. “Money only increases happiness only when it lifts people out of poverty to about the mid-five figures. Past $50,000 per year in income, wealth and happiness part ways.”

According to Outliers, it appears that the relationship between IQ and real world success is similar. “Once someone has reached an IQ of somewhere around 120, having additional IQ points doesn’t seem to translate into any measurable real-world advantage.” Once an individual is “smart enough”, that individual is just as likely to win a Nobel Prize as someone with an IQ of 180. Malcolm Gladwell tells us about Chris Langan, a man with an IQ of 195. With such a high IQ, you would think that Chris Langan would be a household name, but how many of us have ever heard of Chris Langan? Until I read the Outliers, I didn’t even know he existed. In comparison, Einstein’s IQ was only 150, yet most people have heard of Einstein.

A great quote from the Outliers highlights this point:

“Knowledge of a boy’s IQ is of little help if you are faced with a formful of clever boys.”

So beyond an IQ of 120, what differentiates individuals from being successful? To illustrate the difference, Malcolm Gladwell highlighted a couple of examples in Outliers. The first came in the form of a question from a divergence test:

Write down as many different uses that you can think of for the following objects:

  1. a brick
  2. a blanket

Here’s one answer from a student at a top British school:

(Brick). To use in smash-and-grab raids. To help hold a house together. To use in a game of Russian roulette if you want to keep fit at the same time (bricks at ten paces, turn and throw—no evasive action allowed). To hold the eiderdown on a bed tie a brick at each corner. As a breaker of empty Coca-Cola bottles.

(Blanket). To use on a bed. As a cover for illicit sex in the woods. As a tent. To make smoke signals with. As a sail for a boat, cart or sled. As a substitute for a towel. As a target for shooting practice for short-sighted people. As a thing to catch people jumping out of burning skyscrapers.

And this is the answer from a prodigy with one of the highest IQs in his school:

(Brick). Building things, throwing.

(Blanket). Keeping warm, smothering fire, tying to trees and sleeping in (as a hammock), improvised stretcher.

Clearly, the first answer shows a lot more creativity than the second. And if you were to place a bet on who would be more likely to win a Nobel Prize, I’m sure you would be betting on the person who wrote the first answer even though his IQ is lower. Just because an individual has a high IQ doesn’t mean he can come up with creative ideas.

The other differential highlighted by Gladwell is termed “practical intelligence”. He gives an excellent examples of practical intelligence displayed by Robert Oppenheimer who had a mind equally as sharp as Chris Langan but because of his practical intelligence, he was able to turn the most impossible of situations to his favour. Robert Oppenheimer knew “what to say to whom, when to say it, and how to say it for maximum effect”. These are two of the life skills that Ellen Galinsky talks about in her book Mind in the Making – perspective taking and communicating. These are life skills that must be taught. Given Chris Langan’s upbringing, it is understandable why he never had the opportunity to learn these skills.

How do you teach these skills to your child? Ellen Galinsky offers lots of practical advice in her book “Mind in the Making“.


Raising a Generation of Socially Responsible Youth

Raising a Generation of Socially Responsible Youth

by Focus on the Family /Samantha Chin



Every now and then, stories of youths making a difference in the community are featured in the newspapers, like the recent story about a high-performing A-Level student who made time to volunteer despite juggling school and work. She shared that community service reminds her of how privileged she is to have a supportive community behind her. In fact, research has shown that volunteering not only helps the beneficiaries; the youth volunteers themselves also gain from it. Some of these benefits include becoming more patient and understanding and achieving better academic performance. However, a 2013 National Youth Survey found that volunteer work only ranks No. 15 on the list of important goals for young people in Singapore. How can we instil the value of social responsibility in more of our young people?


Believe in our youths

If we previously believed that youths today are self-centred and apathetic, we need to change our mindset because our beliefs will surely show in our attitudes and actions towards them. We need to acknowledge that they are capable of making a difference in society, with much to contribute especially with their youthful enthusiasm, creativity and optimism.

Youths benefit when older, trusted adults speak into their lives and encourage them. Taking the time to provide guidance and mentorship can propel them to start thinking about offering help to others. Being an example ourselves is also crucial. Our youths may not always listen to what we say, but they will observe what we do and emulate us even when we don’t realise it.


Emphasize the right things

We also need to constantly remember that youths should receive an all-rounded education, where they are not only trained academically but also grounded in good moral and character education. Do we sometimes focus too much on the academic results, and not enough on whether they develop values that will carry them through life, like empathy, integrity and justice?

Oftentimes, our students cannot fathom how the subjects they are studying now can be used for good in the future. We, as parents and educators can help them make the connection. For example, we can explain how biology will come in handy should they desire to be a doctor who saves lives, or that a good grasp of the English language can help them teach English in many less privileged countries.


Create awareness and inspire action

The truth is Singaporean youths grow up in a relatively safe and comfortable environment. Most of them do not know what it is like to fight for survival during extreme poverty, widespread pandemics or natural disasters. We can expose them to the world’s issues by encouraging them to read the newspapers, watch the news, or watch video clips on social issues. We can also urge them to go on short humanitarian trips if possible, for this will open their eyes to see and feel the problems for themselves.


Closer to home, the current Values in Action program where students are given ample opportunities for community involvement is a good way to get them thinking about contributing to society, although for some it is admittedly something to check off versus supporting a cause they truly believe in. Though the passion for helping others is often caught rather than taught, we can still get them to think about causes they care about, and get them thinking about the value of what they contribute, no matter how small. When they have a sense of purpose in their volunteer work, they are more likely to continue believing in the value of social responsibility even into adulthood.

Let us continue to empower and equip our youths to look beyond themselves, and to be champions in their own spheres of influence, both now and in the future.

© 2016 Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd. All rights reserved.


Build up family champions for tomorrow and invest in society’s future

By providing youths with a holistic experience and positive role-modelling of family, they can be our future leaders and the solutions to societal problems. Educating our youth on the importance of family and involving them to advocate for family from young will enable them to demonstrate and promote these family values as adults. Learn more about FamChamps here.


5 Ways To Get Your Kids Closer To You

5 Ways To Get Your Kids Closer To You

by Gee Sany


1. Show RESPECT.

Understand that your child is tired from a whole day at school and they are probably missing you too, sometimes even without them realising it. If you have toddlers, there are days that they may seek your attention in the most ridiculous ways. Well, the key is to ACKNOWLEDGE. Acknowledge that they are tired and show respect if they need to have some time winding down. For myself, I made it a point to hug and kiss my kids before they enter class (both in childcare) and hug and kiss them again the first thing when they see me in the evening. Some days, they may get a bit cranky. Allow them that space to express their unhappiness.


2. Establish A Regular Time And Place for Sharing.

For us, it is just before bedtime. No TVs, phones or ipads to distract. Again, the hug and kiss method works best. I will hug and kiss them and (for e.g) tell them, “Mummy had a great day today. I managed to spend some time with an old friend. How was your day in school with friends?” You will be amazed at how much they will share with you. It is sometimes a challenge to get them started but after a while, the pattern will develop.



“How was your day?” is a pretty bland question if you have a teenager. Share with them what tickles or wows you on social media on that day. Pick a topic that may get them interested to have a continuous conversation with you. You can have them help you research on some things for e.g the upcoming IT Fair dates/location and so on. Get them involved in your weekly/ monthly schedule where suitable.



We want our kids to know that not only we care, but that we actually remember. Make an effort to remember some turning points during their sharing sessions. Then, bring up what’s been talked about and discussed before. Let them know that you appreciate them sharing their interesting stories.


5. Have FUN.

One of the key ways to instill positivity is to share with one another 3 things that you are grateful for in your life. You will have to start this activity first and have them do the same. It will be a little uncomfortable at first but the more practice you do, the more fun it will get. Try to start with once a week and slowly increase the frequency. This activity will branch out to so many other topics such as vacations, happy moments, games, sports, beauty and health.


The whole purpose of practicing these TIPS is about reminding and establishing a healthy connection with our kids that their first outlet can and should be us, their beloved parents. #positiveparenting


Sorry, I brought You into this World

Sorry, I brought You into this World

by Dean Yap



Sometimes, I really feel sorry bringing you to this world.

This world is growing smaller. Strangers link to strangers easily. It is easy to converse without knowing a person, without any personal relationship.

I guess that is why many are nonchalant about showing their 10% ugliness. You are more unlikely to show badass side to friends or neighbors, don’t you?

Making things worse, the seemingly regulated world is pandered by greed of people.

Our living environment is deteriorating fast visibly. It is worrying.

Why do I bring you to a living space which gets worse each day?

When I am no longer around, how are you going cope fighting everyday to live in such unbearable environment, coming back to a home without embrace of my love.

I am so sorry.

Thank goodness, you have siblings.

With your back on each other, you can count on each other to have a good look at this world, explore it, discover the beauty within mess and chaos.

Don’t all beautiful flowers and magnificent trees grow from dirt?

Perhaps our world is now undergoing a huge transformation where ugliness is shown publicly pervasively, so that something wonderful can emerge from it.

With a densely connected world, you can also see more plights of more strangers.

With a caring heart, you are going to see and feel beyond eyes. With a courageous mind, you will go beyond your heart.

Look around, how can you help more disadvantaged people to be as blessed as you both? How can you turn their ugliness into epiphanies.

Living in a Shangri-La is definitely more happy than in a cesspool.

Hey wait…. Not true! The greatest joy is not living in it. The greatest joy comes from the winding journey and tenacious effort of building it.

Hey Little Ones, I am NOT sorry to bring you to this world.

You have the chance of eliciting greatest joy of making something great happen from mess!


Raising Socially Competent Kids

Raising Socially Competent Kids

by Focus on the Family / Judith Xavier


What is EQ and why is it important?

For decades now, well-meaning parents have focused their efforts on building and nurturing their children’s intelligence quotient (IQ), believing it to be a prerequisite to successful lives. While it is likely that a higher ability for reasoning and logical thinking is one factor in determining success, experts have in recent years suggested that a strong emotional quotient (EQ) plays an even more significant role in achieving personal significance. In a much talked-about research study by the Carnegie Institute of Technology, communication, negotiation and leadership skills (all hallmarks of a strong EQ), were identified as the main factors in the financial success of individuals. EQ or emotional intelligence is acknowledging, understanding and managing emotions – both one’s own, as well as that of others.

The good news is, an individual’s EQ can be nurtured and cultivated. Here are some ideas to get you started on building emotional intelligence in your children.

RELATED: When Your Child has Trouble Making Friends

Increase Empathy and Caring 

The sound moral development of a child is necessary to ensure that they have a healthy concern for others, as well as a strong sense of justice and willingness to follow social rules to ensure order and harmony within a community. To inculcate these values, engage your child via a hands-on approach, rather than merely telling them what to do.

  • Maintain high standards on consideration and responsible behaviour. 

Decide as a family your family rules and guidelines on how you will treat others – including family members, friends and figures of authority, amongst others. Find opportune moments to share with your children on how they have benefitted from someone else’s consideration, as well as praise them when they exhibit these same positive values.

  • Teach kindness. 

Kindness is a basic yet greatly underrated value – and every child would benefit from learning to be kind to others.  Often, families get absorbed in the hectic daily pace of life, and acts of kindness received can remain unacknowledged and opportunities to show kindness to others can pass by without being acted on. One way to overcome this is to schedule acts of kindness. For example, your family can set a target of ‘one act of kindness’ per month, and identify another family in your neighbourhood or circle of friends who could use encouragement or practical help, and then, meet that need. This might include offering to baby-sit for a new mother or cooking a weekly hot meal for an elderly neighbour.

  • Serve the community. 

Volunteering offers a host of benefits, including better mental and emotional well-being for the individual. Being part of an organized effort to achieve a greater good enables one to feel connected to the wider community, and recognize that they can play a significant role in it. Volunteering as a family, is a good way to introduce your children to the concept of giving back to society.  This offers them the opportunity to step out of their comfort zones and see the hardships and challenges faced by others in society, as well as give of their time, money and skills to help others.

RELATED: How to Help Your Child to Stop Feeling Inadequate

Harnessing the ‘Negative Emotions’

Being an emotionally healthy child includes understanding and managing their own emotions and feelings – including the negative ones that make them uncomfortable. Often, children may not have the maturity or language to express their feelings, and act out or widthraw into themselves as a result. Parents play a vital role in helping children identify their emotions and share them effectively following these steps:

  • Remind yourself its ok to feel angry, sad, upset, irritated or disappointed.
  • Remember that this upset feeling will not last forever. In a while, it will pass.
  • Tell someone else that you trust about your feeling – explain why you feel this way. If someone has hurt your feelings, tell that person how it made you feel.

For young children, building a library of emotional language that they can draw on is useful. Cut out images from the newspapers and magazines that depict people with different facial expressions. Discuss with your child, what kind of emotion that person could be feeling and why. Then ask your child if they have ever experienced a similar emotion, and to share their experience with you. In this way, children learn from a young age that their ‘negative’ emotions are not to be ignored or buried, but can be managed successfully and with positive outcomes.

Perhaps the most powerful tool that a parent has in their arsenal is themselves – being a positive role-model for your child is an invaluable gift that you can give them. As your child watches you live out the principles and values of emotional intelligence, they will experience firsthand the benefits of high EQ, and begin to apply these ideas to their own lives.

Copyright © 2016. Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd.

Want to be a steady guide and inspiring mentor to your child in their formative years? The Parent-Coach Dialogues is designed to help you understand your personal parenting style and  how you can apply it to your child. Learn more here.