A preference to conform?
XIPs learn quite early in their lives – sometimes even before they go to school – how to deal with the apparent differentness of their environment. These are emotional choices, whether to stand out more or to blend into the background. Many conclude, either consciously or otherwise, that they are better off not being labelled highly intelligent, let alone gifted. Some of these individuals achieve great things unnoticed, while others choose inconspicuousness and mediocrity. A third group drops out and performs extremely badly.
But here, too, the principle of “blood is thicker than water” applies.
An opportunity to change
If changes occur in the work situation or at home, or if a certain life phase induces a sense of restlessness, choices made in the past can be questioned and the opportunity can be taken to reevaluate one’s own qualities and to start using them.
Preliminary phases in the process of acknowledgement based on the work situation are:
- An escalation or outburst occurs which makes a change unavoidable.
- The employer or client wishes to implement major changes in the organization or in a project, and asks the XIP searching questions concerning their suitability and preferences.
Confronted with the question: “What now?”, employer or client decides to make a move. Usually the client starts to investigate the issue and connects previous signals about his/her uncommonly intelligent children, siblings or dear friends, with the own situation. Curiosity and dissatisfaction with a ‘forever unchanging’ perspective are driving forces to act and collect relevant information. This often incurs strong feelings of insecurity:
- Suppose my hypothesis is entirely wrong!
- I do not want anyone in the office to know this.
- My partner thinks it is obvious, but I feel most uncertain about it.
An increasing number of employers are becoming aware of the link between behaviour and possible extra intelligence, and these employers are encouraging their personnel to investigate matters further. In practice, the relevant manager or HR officer often appears to have an affinity with the subject through family, friends or previous experiences.
It helps to ask questions
In all cases it is usually a big relief to discuss the subject with an independent third party, with me for instance, and to be able to express doubts and worries.
My reaction to those questions clarifies the issues, in fact the wording of the question already offers relief. The subject is unfortunately rather emotionally loaded, often due to various implicit or explicit convictions about what giftedness implies.