Since extra intelligence is by definition extra, XIPs who do their thing will attract special attention. The possible irritation or perplexity of their environment is usually linked to the relatively extra of whatever is happening. Almost always certain patterns will emerge, due to XIP’s characteristic intensity, complexity and drive. These patterns were marked by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen in her book “The Gifted Adult” (1999). She collected ten characteristic reproaches as specially meant to put the XIP’s nose back to the grindstone.
Reproach and sense of guilt
To give an idea, I present four of the ten reproaches here:
- Why don’t you slow down?
- Can’t you just keep to one career direction?
- You’re always so driven!
- Who do you think you are?
When XIPs hear that kind of criticism, they automatically throttle down, because it is an unanswerable remark that evokes a sense of guilt. In fact, many XIPs have become convinced that the criticism is well deserved and that they should be ashamed of themselves. Some already step off the gas when they become aware that they are working at full speed, as they expect their environment will not appreciate it.
Feelings of guilt like: “I am impatient again.” or “I am pushing far too hard. I should not get myself so worked up.” easily lead to passivity and structurally biding one’s time. But the XIP may also become aware of his/her growing irritation about the other’s apparent slackness or lack of devotion.
Instead of feeling guilty or irritated, the XIP may reply: “Yes, I do have my focused way of doing things, and there are lots of things that I intend to accomplish or move forward with.” It is a truthful rejoinder but may also be interpreted as a reproach in return, with dubious consequences.
Discover the extra quality
The next step is to become aware that the qualities that attract irritation and resentment because they’re so different, may be also the qualities that are most distinguishing. Often blame may show the lead for fame.
Impatience may imply an ability to high productivity. People who are driven tend to persevere, even in arduous circumstances.
But every asset also needs a proper time and place to be valued.
Unfortunately it must be said; some XIPs seem to have a talent for getting jobs at places that are “wrong” for them: In their urge to try to just be normal, they may enter organizations that cherish stability and adhere to formal rules as a natural and appropriate policy. After some time, they get bored or frustrated about this efficient “normalcy” and start to perform less, or begin to ask tendentious questions. If an organization tries to correct by more explicitly equalizing the XIP or by more control, it usually leads to fight or flight reactions of the XIP.
Acknowledge the extra
More generally speaking: as long as XIPs don’t know or don’t acknowledge their special qualities and their being and doing extra in many respects, they get unsatisfying jobs, engage in unsuccessful personal relations and basically prolong their misconceptions.
That is one of the pragmatic reasons to recognize this characteristic for what it is and to want to do something about it. It is often one of the topics in coaching sessions, as it is quite a struggle to discover and change old patterns.
In Enjoying the Gift… all ten reproaches, their implied sense of guilt, and their hidden asset are shown.