Here it is. That pesky old question. You’ve heard it. You grapple with it.
If you aren’t a high achiever, can you be gifted? If your achievements aren’t “great,” can you be gifted? If your work isn’t “insanely great,” might you not be gifted but just insane? (You may not have heard of that last question. I made it up. Just now.)
Then you wonder: What constitutes high achieving? What is greatness? Who decides? What does it mean to be gifted? Does it matter if you know that you’re gifted? What if you think you’re gifted, but you really aren’t?
Oh boy. More questions. If you ask the most questions, does that make you gifted?
Here are some things to think about. (You like to think, right? Does that make you gifted?)
High achievement, in itself, might not be a sign of giftedness. It could just be an indication of hard work, deliberate practice, a point of view, nepotism, or your family’s trust fund. It could also be a sign of giftedness.
Greatness. Even harder to explain than high achievement. You don’t have to be gifted to do great things. You could be but you don’t have to be. See what the researcher David Shenk says about it:
“People are not doomed to mediocrity, as conventional wisdom suggests. No one can really know his or her true limits before applying enormous resources and investing vast amounts of time. Greatness is something to which any kid—of any age—can aspire.”
So what are we left with? How do we decide who’s gifted? Do we need to? And, assuming that achievement and greatness are desirable, how do you get there?
First: If you have many of these rainforest traits, odds are pretty darned good that you’re gifted. Then: There are many reasons why you may not be accomplishing what you or others expect. Some of the reasons are described here and here. It’s complicated. Finally: Knowing that you are gifted will help you stop pathologizing these traits so that you can get on with being who you are meant to be. Doing what you’re here to do. Achieving greatness.
To my blogEEs: How do you deal with the pressures to achieve and to be “great?” Were you called an underachiever when you were a kid? Do you still feel that way? Have you been successful as an adult? How? What’s that been like? What would you like to achieve? Looking at events in the world, do you feel an urgency to contribute? Thank you for reading and commenting. You all have so much wisdom to share.