Mary Jacobsen’s vision
In her book, The Gifted Adult, American author Mary-Elaine Jacobsen (1999) introduces the term Everyday Genius to characterize gifted adults and describes their development and behaviour extensively.
We have found her description of The Big Three Differences (p. 253) very practical to convey a kind of summarized profile of XIPs.
XIPs are different
Everyday Geniuses, hereafter referred to as XIPs, are different in three fundamental ways: quantitatively, qualitatively, and motivationally.
They lead more intense lives, think in more complex ways, and are more driven than normally endowed individuals.
That’s just the way they are; it is not some special merit, but neither is it practical to deny its effects. Like the characteristic traits of an XIP, these qualities are helpful to stir up questions like: “Do I recognize this?” “But that’s normal, is it?” or “I recognize very clearly that he/she has these qualities; am I interacting with her in an effective way?”
Of course these qualities can be quite a hassle to you, but they can also be the source of excellent expression and matching personal satisfaction. Acknowledging their existence is a step in the process of confirming the hypothesis of actually being an XIP.
In short, the key is to turn these special characteristics to your advantage rather than to allow them to work against you.
XIPs are quantitatively different; all systems are running at full throttle.
They experience the world more intensely and respond in a corresponding manner. Their senses observe more nuances but are also more susceptible to becoming overloaded. They are able to concentrate in an extraordinarily focussed manner and have strong powers of empathy plus an inexhaustible energy for enterprise. They have a deep and exuberant sense of humour and ability to put things into perspective.
If they are not operating in strength mode, these qualities become distorted in an extremely active or passive form: XIPs can be depressive, workaholic, or know-it-all, becoming a ruthless debater, torturer or martyr, cynic, iceberg, or unguided missile to mention but a few possibilities.
XIPs are qualitatively different; they can absorb, analyse, and synthesise information from a wide range of domains extremely rapidly and even simultaneously.
This is an extremely influential characteristic that results in multiple interests, a pervasive sense of self-consciousness, extraordinary intuitive powers, a huge memory for all kinds of things, and a capacity for original and complex trains of thought.
If this complexity is not managed properly, once again extreme effects will arise: obsession with one theme, or too little attention across too many themes, self-hate, fear of the irrational or escape into superstition, tunnel vision, manipulation, production of trivial facts, chaos without content, or analysis without conclusion.
XIPs are unusually driven individuals; they are structurally inquisitive, set the bar at a high level, and are self-starting, independent, and persistent.
They have an inner drive, even though they initially may be unaware of where this will lead. This makes them natural innovators and visionaries, idealists, and strong performers who are flexible, and adept at achieving their objectives.
Here, too, the key to success lies in finding appropriate resources. If this does not happen, stagnation will occur via fear of failure, or ultimate perfectionism. Alternatively, a good start will never be capitalised upon and concluded. Or the wheel will be re-invented. Some individuals allow themselves to be pushed just so they can resist. Others manage to discourage everyone through their endless nagging.