Giftedness is described as the ability to apply logic, thought, and high intelligence beyond one’s general peer group or age set. These individuals are often top performers, high or over achievers, and may have perfectionist personality traits. Gifted children are often identified in school when they are able to excel beyond their years in a specific activity, interest, or subject. Today, adult giftedness can be found in about 20 million people, and it is unknown whether it is a result of genetics or a variety of environmental, social, and personality factors.
Adult giftedness is most notable in our most honored and famous inventors; Einstein, Beethoven, and other geniuses in history who have made world-changing contributions that will exceed even our lifetimes. Gifted women have often been overlooked in the past; their contributions to society, the arts, and education have become prevalent after educational equality and was allowed in this century.
A gifted adult in today’s world may be considered an everyday genius, as Mary Elaine Jacobesn, author of the book “Everyday Genius” explains. Approximately 20 million adults have an innate nature and capability that provides a wealth of opportunity for creativity and accomplishment to manifest. Adult giftedness is often overlooked; these adults possess unique traits of intelligence, artistic ability, profound thinking and insights, and do not necessarily have a single, dominating talent. Instead, these thinkers are able to engage in frequent ‘lateral thinking,’ and may often be described as over-sensitive.
It is these very over-sensitivities and thinking processes that enable them to create at a high level, solve complex problems, and think in a multi-dimensional approach. It is not a common approach to life in general; in fact, it may even create a pattern of underachievement, self-sabotage, and relationship problems when not cultivated appropriately. When a gifted adult can harness and acknowledge their capabilities, fantastic results can emerge!
The ‘multiple intelligences’ of gifted adults become apparent when undertaking both simple and complex tasks. Oftentimes, the person is able to break apart and learn the lessons or techniques very quickly, and soon solves future or present problems with little guidance or direction. This is a strong trait and very valuable characteristic when applied to productive and creative work. Another skill is the ability to memorize and apply information at a high rate. Rote memorization serves no purpose when it cannot be applied to a task, but gifted adults ‘learn how to learn’ and can thus control their thoughts and new information to generate actual results. Adult giftedness bears skills and talents that allow them to learn music, foreign languages, and other general subjects at an accelerated pace and with ease. This in turn serves them well in a variety of interests and pursuits. Emotional sensitivity and intelligence provides a wealth of information on ‘reading people’ and being acutely aware of even strangers feelings, reactions, and general well-being.
Innovators, inventors, geniuses, programmers, and future business developers are just a few of the industries that you will find giftedness. However, many undiscovered gifted adults are found in service industries, ‘simple’ jobs, and areas where they have found a need to resort to self-employment upon frustration with limitations for their own growth. Adult giftedness does not always ensure success, even in the work world. When the talents and traits of the gifted adult clash with a workplace or organization’s motivations or mission, there can be a great deal of anxiety and lost potential. To overcome this obstacle, the gifted adult must acknowledge the skills and traits that serve both themselves and their work environments the best. For example, one consistent attribute is that of self-organizing and systematizing. Adult giftedness can be an excellent opportunity in the work world for information research, high-level administration, project management, or fields that involve complex problem-solving with limited data.
On a personal and social level, gifted adults also tend to challenge themselves in order to grow; they have an innate ability to set both personal and work goals, independent of their actual environment. They work towards their potential, seeking out ways to be constructive and productive. They are often labeled as ‘overachievers’ but this can benefit them considerably in the long run. Creativity in their personal lives provides many opportunities for self-analysis, daydreaming, and innovative ideas and unique thoughts. Adult giftedness parallels qualities of gifted children; both groups have been identified as having heightened receptivity. This high-level of sensitivity to both themselves and others provides often causes a need to be perfectionists in behavior, action, and even thought.
The life of a gifted adult can be exceptional, full of achievement, and very satisfying. However, adult giftedness does bear the risk that certain characteristics or traits may go unfound, hidden, or misunderstood if they are not cultivated or encouraged appropriately. Organizations such as the International Society for Gifted Adults and Advocates are working on identifying adult giftedness amongst the population, and to encourage their growth, opportunity, and better understanding. The loss of human potential can be a significant impact to tomorrow’s future; both young and old bright minds can surely find peace and harmony with their environment where they can accept and use their exceptional talents for a greater purpose.