Gifted People: Characteristics & Your Career Choices
Gifted People: Characteristics & Your Career Choices
Have you ever wondered if you are gifted? What does it mean and what are the tell-tale signs of Gifted Adults. Before making career decisions, regardless of who you are, it’s a question worth considering.
There are many gifted adults working in corporations, institutions and small business that don’t even know that their gifted and have never been identified as such. The result can be unlocked potential and dissatisfied careers because of this lack of vital self- knowledge. It is only in the last 10 years that I have seen the identification of giftedness gather pace in Australian schools. Mind you not all schools are doing their part. To know any information about yourself can be almighty powerful but to a gifted person this self-knowledge can be priceless when it comes to leaving the school gate and making career choices over your lifetime.
Giftedness is not a new concept, it has been around for thousands of years. Because of this history, it too inherits some typical stereotyping which doesn’t reflect current research. All gifted persons are normally thought to be geniuses, academically brilliant, able to solve all their own problems and they supposedly can choose any career pathway they want. Yes, some are geniuses and yes, some are academically brilliant but you don’t need to be either one if you are gifted in other areas. As to solving your own problems and you can have any career you want, nothing could be further from the truth.
Gifted adults and gifted children can be one of the most misunderstood group in our society. For those who have been identified as gifted, the extreme pressure and career expectations placed on them can be suffocating. Take our gifted sportsmen & women competing in the Winter Olympics as an example. The flip side to this, is that if you have no knowledge of being gifted, you can lead a turbulent meaningless career life, never understanding why.
So let me give you an insight into what it’s like to be amongst gifted adults or gifted children. To be gifted, you have to have the potential and natural ability in at least one domain where it places you among the top 10% of your age peers according to Canadian psychologist Gagne. Those domains can either be:
Intellectual – examples include high levels of reasoning and problem solving with words, general intelligence or visual spatial reasoning where you think and reason in 3D pictures,
Creative – examples include solving problems with inventions and new ideas, vivid imaginations to think outside or beyond the box and production of original arts,
Social– examples include highly developed empathy for other people, well developed leadership skills and a keen sense of justice,
Perceptual – examples include being able to distinguish subtle changes in sound, in taste, in sight, smell and touch,
Physical- examples include having powerful muscular strength, power, speed and endurance. Also you can have great coordination and agility than the norm.
The examples I have given above are by no means comprehensive, but you can start to get the picture that the concept is quite broad. It can cover a number of individuals across many cultures and across many socio-economic groups. Some individuals may be gifted in more than one domain, for example, you may have an exceptional ability to play basketball as well as exceptional ability in learning languages and creatively writing fantasy short stories. The combinations can be quite extraordinary.
While individuals can have a wealth of raw natural abilities in many domains, many gifts are never turned into talents. Talent can appear in the career fields of academia, science and technology, the arts, social service, sales and administration, business operations, games, sports and athletics. What stands between the gift and the talent will be the persons environmental circumstances, developmental learning, fixed or growth mindset, personality traits, goal management and the roll of the dice-chance.
To put names and faces to the concept, the following is a list of gifted people from our history and contemporary names that will get you thinking:
Gifted Adults in History
Aristotle (384-322 BC)- philosopher, scientist and rhetorician
Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)- master artist, architect, engineer, inventor, mathematician, musician and writer
Thomas Edison (1847-1931)-inventor and businessman
Fred Astaire (1899-1987)- film and broad way stage dancer, choreographer, singer, musician and actor
Walt Disney (1901-1966)- entrepreneur, animator, cartoonist, producer and director
Contemporary Gifted Adults
Michael Jackson (1958-2009)-singer, dancer, song writer, businessman and philanthropist
Elvis Presley (1935-1977)- singer, musician and actor
Steve Jobs (1955-2011)- entrepreneur, marketer and inventor
Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)- greatest heavyweight boxer
J K Rowling- award winning novelist, researcher and philanthropist
Tiger Woods- champion professional golfer, golf course designer and philanthropist
Ian Thorpe- champion swimmer, actor and philanthropist
Heston Blumenthal- Michelin starred self- taught chef
Matt Groening- creator of the Simpsons, cartoonist, screenwriter, producer, animator and comedian
While these gifted adults have excelled in their particular domains, being gifted makes their quest for career fulfilment more intense than the norm.
Typical Gifted Characteristics
Some typical characteristics that gifted adults and children have include:
- Vivid imagination
- Can get bored quickly and need to be challenged daily
- Can be very driven
- Fear of failure
- Rapid learning rate, grasp concepts quickly
- Extremely curious, always ask lots of questions
- Can feel very intense emotions
- High levels of sensitivity
- Oversensitive to criticism
- Can feel the odd one out
- Prone to perfectionism and can be self-critical
- Advanced sense of humour
- Dislike of authority and rules, are quite independent
- Early social and moral concern
- A constant need to be mentally stimulated or stimulated by their area of interest.
- Can be easily misunderstood by others
You don’t need to have all characteristics but one or two may indeed show that you too may be gifted.
Gifted people always feel the need to fit within a system whether it is school, institutions or organisations. When choosing careers, gifted adults often compromise their own self-identity and choose work environments that are clearly not suited to their characteristics and behaviours. I’ve seen individuals burning out, losing a sense of who they are and the development of depression.
Related: How Gifted Adults Think
If you are serious about finding the fulfilment and satisfaction from the work direction you choose, the question “Am I gifted?” may be another one of those keys that can unlock your potential and steer you onwards and upwards. Imagine the possibilities!
If you are struggling with career choices or career change and relate to the above, reach out and contact me so I can move you forward. Finally, you will have somebody who understands you and can provide you with career guidance and career advice at any stage of your career life.
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