I’m Not Gifted, I’m Just Lucky–Part Two

I know. You’re not gifted.

Humor me.

If you were gifted, here are some things you would need to know.

1. Intelligence is not a fixed, hard, immutable thing.  Intelligence is not an either you-are or you’re-not situation. Sure, you have a rainforest mind. You’re smart, sensitimindsetve, empathetic, analytical, creative, intense, perfectionistic and complicated. But that doesn’t mean that your traits and abilities can’t shift, change and grow. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be confused, dumb, embarrassing and a complete failure some of the time. The key, according to Carol Dweck, author of Mindsetis that you’re open to growth. That you love learning. And, when you think about it, it’s all learning. One way or another. And, I know your mother told you this but maybe you’ll listen to me: You learn more from your mistakes and failures than from your successes. Think about it.

2. Your mistakes, failures, and embarrassments. Entertaining stories for holiday gatherings, memoirs, and TED talks.

3. Intelligence is not the same as achievement. Some people who are extremely bright, have not graduated from college, have not discovered relativity, have not won a Nobel prize and are not billionaires. I might also suggest that the reverse is true. High achievers and rich people are not necessarily extremely bright. I won’t mention any names.

4. Effort and sustained practice are required for outstanding achievement. You may have believed that if you were truly gifted, you shouldn’t have to exert effort to produce greatness. You’d be wrong.


5.Remember that long odd conglomeration of things from my last post? The list of reasons you might feel like an impostor? Valerie Young makes sense of them in her book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women. Check it out.

6. And, finally, here’s the thing. The Thing. As you struggle to understand and accept that you have a rainforest mind, that you may, in fact, be g-g-gifted, imagine that there’s something you’re here on the planet to do. No pressure. Don’t get all nervous on me. Well, maybe a little pressure. It doesn’t need to be something “insanely great.” It’s not about that.

You know what I’m talkin’ about. You’ve felt it. Begin to open to the possibility that now is the time to find it, feel it, do it and be it.



To my darling bloggEEs:

I hope I didn’t just freak you out with that last part. I promise to help you figure it out. That’s why I’m here. That’s what I’m here on the planet to do.







Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

11 responses to “I’m Not Gifted, I’m Just Lucky–Part Two”

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  1. Being Told That You’re Gifted — Good News And Bad News | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] try anything that might be difficult. It’s bad news if you think you’re either smart or you’re not. It’s bad news when you interpret it to mean that you can never make a mistake or fail at […]

  2. lauralynnwalsh Avatar

    OK, I am not sure exactly how to put this. I have been identified as gifted since I was quite young, and I acknowledge that it is true, so I don’t have that problem. My problem is with item #6: finding what I am on this planet to do. I have done this; then I have done that; then I have done a third thing; and then, finally switched back to the first thing. And finally now that I am on the verge of retirement, I find that I haven’t really done much that is worthwhile. I am not an expert on anything; I have not contributed substantially to any field. In fact, I haven’t really been all that successful at things 1, 2, and 3 – OK, just not stellar. I am disappointed in my own mediocrity. Recently, I started thing number 4, which is not a job at all, but a hobby. It is fun, but I am afraid even here I will only ever be mediocre. How can I keep working through mediocrity? What if I am never “good”? Is it still worthwhile to keep trying?

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Oh my gosh, Lauralynn, it’s always worthwhile to keep trying! A couple of ideas: You may have multipotentiality. Many gifted people do. Go to http://www.puttylike.com for great support and information. The young woman who runs the site knows what she’s talking about and provides lots of ideas for people with multiple interests and abilities. Also, consider that your evaluation of your work may be harsh if you have very high standards. What you think is mediocre, may be high quality to others. If you’ve gotten positive feedback about your work from others, try and let yourself accept that. I’ll write more in future posts about your concerns. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Erik Groomer Avatar
    Erik Groomer

    Paula, I totally and completely(!) agree with you about the concept of fixed/growth mindset being a great place to start. It has been the most powerful piece in understanding the puzzle that is me. And harvesting helpful bits wherever we find them, to enable us in our efforts to switch, seems a worthy quest. I’ve even found Anthony Robbins material to address fixed/growth mindset. It’s encouraging to get your perspective on it.

  4. Erik Groomer Avatar
    Erik Groomer

    Hey Paula, thanks for continuing to post, I always keep up.

    I just wanted to register my frustration with Dweck’s book. When I started reading it she really set the hook about fixed vs growth mindsets. I was initially excited and expectations were very high. I could see the fixed mindset in myself and was eagerly looking for a set of tools that would enable me to break out of its straightjacket. But as she went on and on, giving example after example of fixed mindset vs growth mindset in athletes and business executives, I started to weary. Finally, with something like 14 pages left in the book she got around to giving practical advice for converting from fixed to growth mindset. After wading through all the anecdotal portion of the book I couldn’t help but feel a bit cheated. Actually, I was quite angry. It hardly seemed to live up to its byline of, “how we can learn to fulfill our potential.” It should be pretty obvious that my view on the book is biased and won’t reflect others’ experience in reading it. She did well showing the pitfalls of fixed mindset, she just didn’t help me to see a clear road towards growth mindset. And wasn’t that supposed to be the whole point?

    So let me propose another book that makes use of Dweck’s early work: “The Art of Learning”, by Josh Waitzkin. You most likely are aware of it, it’s been out for some years. Josh is the young chess prodigy in the movie, “Searching for Bobby Fischer”. I am not finished reading it but so far it appears to put more flesh on the bones that Dweck has collected from the valley floor. Has anyone else read this book and found it to be useful?

    Just my two cents…

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Erik. I really appreciate your two cents. I also experience some frustration with Dweck’s work. The point I’d like people to get is to use the concept of fixed/growth mindsets as a place to start. Because the reasons gifted folks might have a fixed mindset are so complex (see the list from the post before this one), it’s not easy to switch. The patterns, beliefs and behaviors are DEEP and multi-faceted. I read the Waitzkin book some time ago and don’t remember it. (no reflection on the book) I’ll see if I can find it! Thanks for the suggestion. Hopefully, others will chime in with their ideas.

    2. Paula Wilkes Avatar
      Paula Wilkes

      Hey, Erik, we are all so lucky that this is Paula’s life passion! I have known Paula for quite some time, and she as been a great inspiration to my work, too. I have read The Art of Learning, and I even required it for one of my courses on gifted education. I thought you might like to read this article by Alfie Kohn questioning our whole emphasis on “grit” and working harder even when it is something that doesn’t interest us. http://www.alfiekohn.org/miscellaneous/grit.htm I have been a fan of Alfie Kohn since he wrote the book Punished by Rewards, and this latest response to “grit” and “mindset” go a long way to getting me to rethink the whole Protestant Ethic that we continue to place on children and that we carry into our adult lives. I really like his notion that when we dig ourselves into a hole, we really should stop digging.

      1. paulaprober Avatar

        Thanks for adding your thoughts, Paula Wilkes. Your input is much appreciated!

      2. Anna Avatar

        Indeed we are. I’m ever so grateful to her that it is. I’ve invited my daughter, a friend and her children to read her blogs.

  5. paulaprober Avatar

    So nice to hear from you again, CA! I appreciate hearing how my writing is influencing your thinking. The effort and achievement issue is tricky. Because for a rainforest mind, many things come easily. So then the belief can be that it ALL should be easy. And “who needs effort?” “who needs to study?” And that can create problems. I think for the average person, it’s much more straightforward. You put in effort and you achieve. You don’t put in effort, you don’t achieve. And, then, there are your particular high standards… Yes, it’s complex. Thanks for reading.

  6. C A Avatar
    C A

    Wow Paula…love this one as well.. Amazing synchronity I am reading that book right bow because I see how the imposter syndrome is hurting me and my success! Screw that…I am successful… And you are right about achievement taking effort…I used to wonder why it did but I know that to do something well,eg well for me, 🙂 does take effort and I do want to work up to the best of MY ability not just other people’s Example, today we had church and I run the bookstore and write reviews of the books my pastor speaks upon…and the one today took me a while to write and I am an awesome writer but I had to edit and choose the right good words and make sure it was engaging enough for the readers and that took a whle! But my minister loved the final draft and it should be in the church newletter this week…so I know what you mean thanks 🙂

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