Most people think of the gifted as those who cruise through school, skirting along at the top of their classes, hardly putting in any effort yet still succeeding. But there’s another group of gifted individuals who get lost in the crowd, or even fail in school, or in life, completely. What happened to them?
As gifted people we know inside that we can do great things in the world. But sometimes we doubt ourselves, or others around us tell us that there’s no way we can do the things we’re dreaming of, and eventually some of us lose hope altogether. We operate very far from the potential that we have. Why?
There are many reasons why gifted adults (and children) underachieve, some with more drastic consequences than others. Each group below, though they may have some overlapping characteristics, has its own set of associated behaviours and challenges. We may fall fully into one of these groups or see bits of ourselves in many.
Do you recognize yourself in any of these?
Group 1 – There aren’t any models of high achievement in our lives, so we don’t even know what is possible for us. We don’t know what others can do so we don’t ever explore what we can do.
Group 2 – We know our talents and abilities, but being comfortable is very important to us so we don’t do anything that may jeopardize that. And standing out from the crowd in any way is definitely uncomfortable.
Group 3 – We have a lot of interests and can’t choose which one or two we want to pursue in depth. We get lost by getting caught up in, or being reasonably good at, too many things.
Group 4 – We are extremely perfectionistic and would rather not do something at all than be wrong or inadequate at it. We avoid trying to avoid failing in any way.
Group 5 – We decide not to decide. When offered a choice, we find ways not to make a decision and either let someone else do whatever it is for us, or put it off until it becomes forgotten.
Group 6 – We move forward in life, but stop just before reaching the goals we set for ourselves. We are perfectionistic and fear not being able to have what we want so we quit before we get close enough to find out.
Group 7 – We set impossibly high standards and then blame ourselves when we can’t reach them. We consider any success only an accident.
Group 8 – We’ve gotten very good at talking our way out of just about any situation and use this skill to avoid completing our tasks or being prepared for our responsibilities. We make excuses with a smile and people accept this from us.
Group 9 – We thrive on excitement and spend life totally on the edge. We take risks on a grand scale, even if we aren’t prepared for them or their consequences.
Group 10 – We want things our way and have a lot of trouble listening to authority. Though it seems we are very outgoing, we just want to do enough to get by so that people will leave us alone.
Group 11 – We think we know a whole lot more than everyone else and tend to blame our failures on others’ ‘incompetencies’. We’re right, they’re wrong.
Group 12 – We only take on challenges at which we know we will succeed. We win, but at levels much below our potential.
Knowing where our weaknesses are help us to determine how to get around them. And when we understand ourselves it makes finding success much easier, and more possible.