The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide for Liberating Everyday Genius(tm)


Are you relentlessly curious and creative, always willing to rock the boat in order to get things done . . . extremely energetic and focused, yet constantly switching gears . . . intensely sensitive, able to intuit subtly charged situations and decipher others' feeling? If these traits sound familiar, then you may be an Everyday Genius—an ordinary person of unusual vision who breaks the mold and isn't afraid to push progress forward. . . .

As thought-provoking as Daniel ...

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The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide for Liberating Everyday Genius(tm)

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Are you relentlessly curious and creative, always willing to rock the boat in order to get things done . . . extremely energetic and focused, yet constantly switching gears . . . intensely sensitive, able to intuit subtly charged situations and decipher others' feeling? If these traits sound familiar, then you may be an Everyday Genius—an ordinary person of unusual vision who breaks the mold and isn't afraid to push progress forward. . . .

As thought-provoking as Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, psychologist Mary-Elaine Jacobsen's Gifted Adults draws on a wide range of groundbreaking research and her own clinical experience to show America's twenty million gifted adults how to identify and free their extraordinary potential. Gifted Adults presents the first practical tool for rating your Evolutionary Intelligence Quotient through an in-depth personality-type profile. Demystifying what it means to be a gifted adult, this book offers practical guidance for eliminating self-sabotage and underachievement, helping Everyday Geniuses and those who know, love, and work with them to understand and support the exceptional gifts inherent in these unique personality traits.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
—New York Daily News

"Takes readers beyond the myths and stereotypes about talent and genius . . . Everyone interested in maximizing intelligence, creativity, or productivity will want to read this book."
   Contributing editor, Gifted Child Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345434920
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1ST TRADE
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 622,915
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Read an Excerpt

No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.        
        -Friedrich Nietzsche

To look at her, you would never suspect that Ann was in the midst of a
crisis. She sat in my office, composed and resplendent in a black Tahari
suit. The only sign of any agitation was her habit of coiling
and uncoiling her index finger around her strand of pearls. She looked
much younger than forty-three. As my client now for nearly four months,
she, at first, had been at a loss to explain rationally what brought her
to me.

"No one ever expects a midlife crisis, Dr. Jacobsen. I certainly didn't,"
were the first words that Ann spoke to me.

At one point in her legal career, Ann had been a dynamo, working on a team
that won a major case involving suspected violations of interstate
commerce laws in the dairy industry. The lead attorney acknowledged that
it was her dogged efforts that helped dismantle the government's case. Ann
seemed destined to make partner before she was thirty-five and was
guaranteed the pick of the firm's highest-profile and potentially most
lucrative cases.

Success hadn't come without a price. Those who were passed over
for promotion in favor of Ann attributed her meteoric rise to favoritism
and not her razor-sharp analytical skills, her amazing intuition, and her
twenty-six-hour workdays. Once lauded as the consummate most valuable
player, Ann was eventually plagued by not-so-quiet whispers about her
chameleonlike ability to transform herself into whomever each partner
wanted her to be. Suddenly thequalities that had once been her most
valuable assets felt like her greatest liabilities.

Always someone who took every criticism to heart, Ann stopped trusting her
intuition and her allies. Rather than ranging far and wide
to offer colleagues help, anticipating their problems before they even
identified them, she kept to a carefully circumscribed territory in order
to restore her coworkers' regard for her. Her boundless interest and
enthusiasm, previously characterized by being the first to volunteer to
tackle the thorniest problem, now slid precipitously. She became aloof and

"After all the problems I created by being a standout, I decided that the
best way to get along was to go along and just joylessly grind my way
through the day like everyone else. It seemed to be the only way that I
could make working there bearable. Everyone else seemed pleased about my
so-called change, but I was miserable."

A few months before Ann first came to see me, I'd walked into my
office one afternoon and was startled to find a man standing at the win-
dow tugging at one of the slats in the miniblinds and peering out at
the street. He turned around and saw me. Then he took a couple of
steps toward me, muttered, "How ya doing, Doc?" and stalked to the
bookcase lining one wall. He pulled a book off the shelf and started
leafing through it.

"You must be John," I said as evenly as I could. "My clients usually wait
in the reception area."

"Well, I saw that other woman come out, so I came on in. You don't mind,
do you." There was little to suggest that John was asking a question.

John soon put back the book and took down a few others, smiling ruefully
and shaking his head after examining a couple of their titles. Eventually
I came to understand that John was very nearly incapable of keeping still
for longer than a few minutes at a time. In this instance, the classic
stereotype of the patient lying on the couch was laughable. John was the
epitome of the restless peripatetic at home and at the office.

Early on, John described how he perceived others. "It's like the rest of
the world is moving along at twenty-four frames per second, normal film
speed, but to me that's slow motion. Even when somebody's talking during a
meeting, I swear I look at their mouths and it's like I'm advancing the
tape frame by frame on my VCR. So, okay, film and videotape are two very
different things, so maybe that's not the best example, but maybe it's
more like the world's a blender on stir and I'm on liquefy."

John's self-editing and criticism aside, his description is apt. To
someone like John, the rest of the world does seem as if it's lagging
behind. From people walking too slowly on sidewalks and those counting out
exact change in a supermarket checkout line to others arriving at a
solution that seemed obvious to John minutes, days, or sometimes weeks
before, everyone else always seemed to be moving at a glacial pace. A true
multitasker, John used to upset everyone at meetings because he could
monitor the flow of the conversation, read a report, scan the agenda for
the next item of discussion, then jump ahead or interject at seemingly
inappropriate moments.

"I'm sick of being told to slow down. If I'm on an express train and
they're on a local, why don't they switch trains and get onto mine? It's
time for them to be responsible for catching up to me."

Unfortunately for John, what others perceived as his uncooperative
attitude eventually caught up with him. While he hadn't been fired from
his job as a creative director at an advertising agency, he'd been
essentially stripped of all authority. He'd been asked to stay on in a
consulting capacity but was given little real work to do. John clearly
sensed what was about to happen to him, but that only made him dig in his
heels more deeply on some issues and veer recklessly from one more
outlandish idea to the next, wielding his considerable wit like a saber.
He'd gone from being a visionary Renaissance man of the company to persona
non grata in a matter of months.

"It wouldn't bother me so much, but before I came along most of them
thought that HTML was what you saw when some of the letters burned out in
a neon hotel or motel sign. I got us a jump start into Web advertising,
and now everyone is reaping the benefits and claiming they were the
masterminds behind the whole thing. It's like working with a bunch of Al
Gores claiming they were the ones who helped develop the World Wide Web.
Of course, everybody knows that Dan Quayle was the one who invented the
spell checker."

Giftedness Denied

While John and Ann couldn't have been more different in certain respects,
they do have much in common. They are both gifted adults standing poised
at a crossroads. And they both initially recoiled at my suggestion that
they were gifted.

Like John and Ann, when many of us hear the word gifted we
almost always think two things: (1) "Only schoolchildren are gifted" and
(2) "Since I'm not a child, I can't be gifted." These automatic responses
are understandable given what most of us have been told about bright
people. But most of what we have been told is radically incorrect and
enormously incomplete.

Most of us think we know what giftedness is, but we're unable to describe
it or define it accurately. Part of the reason for that is that we live in
a culture that emphasizes products over process. We can see what gifted
people produce, but we can't see the internal systems and operations that
produced those products. In the previous sentence, even I had to resort to
using words more suited to something manufactured mechanically than to how
the brain really functions. While most people in society would accept the
definition that giftedness is as giftedness does, it is not adequate for
the purposes of this book.

Most definitions of giftedness include these components:

 ¸         Initially having and using natural abilities without benefit of formal

 ¸         Rapid learning

 ¸         Creative and productive thinking

 ¸         High academic achievement

 ¸         Superior proficiency in one or more domains (e.g., mathematics,
performing arts, leadership)

As you can see, the emphasis is on the cognitive components of giftedness.
While the cognitive components are certainly important to consider in
discussing giftedness, too often there is a piece missing. Giftedness is
not merely as giftedness does or as giftedness thinks. Instead, giftedness
is as it thinks as well as feels, senses, perceives, and does.

The Gifted Adult explores the psychology and personality of gifted
adults-the most underidentified group of potential achievers in our
society. Regrettably, too often in our society those who would most
readily be identified as "smart" are most at odds with making their
intelli-gence work for them. Quite often it works against gifted adults,
preventing them from producing the kind of products that traditionally are
the markers of giftedness. One possible explanation for this discrepancy
is that we place a great deal of emphasis on educating gifted children.
We understand that gifted children operate differently from those in the
mainstream. As a result, we try to accommodate these differences among
children by providing them with special programs and enrichment
activities. However, even in the best school districts these programs are
often inadequate and make the fundamental mistake of using only standard
measures such as IQ as a basis for admission.

Programs for the talented and gifted are a relatively recent phenomenon.
As a mother of three very different gifted children, as a former educator
and advocate for gifted education, I can attest to the benefits and
deficits of these programs. However, despite the varying quality of such
programs and their methods of identifying students, they stand head and
shoulders above earlier efforts to educate gifted children, since
specialized programs simply did not exist. From firsthand experience, I
know that many gifted "programs" consisted primarily of removing the
"smart" kids from the classroom and giving them busywork or enlisting
their aid as tutors for the "slow" kids.

If we accept the notion that some children are gifted, then we have to
account for what happens to these children when they grow up. After all,
it's not as though these former children slough off their giftedness like
discarded skin at the age of sixteen or eighteen or twenty-one. Gifted
children do grow up, and they become gifted adults. It seems like an
obvious comment to make, yet little is written about giftedness and how it
applies to adults. So instead of asking if gifted adults exist, we might
be better served by asking questions like the following: How many gifted
adults are there? What are they doing with their lives? What do we know
about how they function in society? What do they have to do to be
successful and fully use their abilities? These are all important
questions, and it is this initial line of inquiry that led me to more
fully investigate the concept of giftedness as it applies to adults.

Interestingly enough, my answer to the first question about the number of
gifted adults in this country demands that we radically revise our
thinking about the very nature of giftedness. Today there are at least
twenty million Americans who would be classified as gifted adults. That
number dwarfs the estimated three million gifted children in our schools.
So where do these gifted adults come from? They can be found in every age
bracket, culture, gender, and socioeconomic stratum across the nation.
"They" are many of "us." Given these statistics, quite a number of people
you know are gifted adults, and perhaps even you are a member of this
not-so-exclusive group. Despite our John- and Ann-like claims
to the contrary, it is not the proverbial others who are truly gifted.
We who are what I term the Everyday Geniuses in our society
comprise a group that together would be equal to the size of the entire
population of New York State!

So-called baby boomers comprise the largest portion of the unidentified
gifted adult population. The baby boom was a sharp rise in the birth rate
that began after World War II and lasted for nearly twenty years. Using
the crudest of statistical analyses, it is clear that with more children
being born, the greater the number of potentially gifted children there
would be in that boom. Since there were no programs to accommodate their
needs, many of these youngsters spent their formative years adrift, a
great number of them choosing to swim against the tide of societal
expectation. Furthermore, when you consider that the bulk of the baby
boomer generation is presently moving into, or has already moved into,
midlife, the time at which many of these identity issues resurface, you
can understand why I felt so compelled to write this book. Since 1991,
when I began specializing in counseling gifted adults, I have become
increasingly aware that a kind of cascade effect has been created by this
group's collective discontent. While we are no longer taking over
administration buildings or taking to the streets in protest, we are
experiencing a similar kind of discomfort with maintaining our individual
and collective status quo. For many of us, life has become a kind of dance
to avoid the vaguely déjà vu-like feelings from early adulthood that kept
tangling our feet and sent us tripping along widely varied paths.

The Gifted Adult

Like Ann and John, the individuals who come into my office have a vague
awareness that the root of their problems is far deeper than surface
symptoms. They realize they are intense, complex, and driven, but they
have been taught that their strong personalities are perceived as
excessive, too different from the norm, and consequently wrong. In a
culture that often equates different with wrong, it's inevitable that
gifted adults point a critical finger toward themselves as the source of
their discontent: Why can't I just be like everybody else? Shouldn't I
have outgrown this kind of identity crisis by now? Why can't I shake this
nagging sense of urgency? Will I ever feel satisfied? What's wrong with
me? When I hear my clients say these things to me, what immediately
becomes obvious is that they are in dire need of accurate information
about themselves. Frequently, the very traits that make an adult gifted
are the same traits that society demands they suppress. This is a book
about normalizing giftedness. My purpose is to show gifted adults how they
can bring their gifts to fruition by fully expressing the very qualities
that are the foundation of their personality.
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Table of Contents

Table of Contents


1. Beyond Giftedness: Everyday Genius Defined        
Giftedness Denied                         
The Gifted Adult                                
The Source of Giftedness                        
The Concept of Giftedness Expanded        
The Five Facets of Freedom                

2. Gifted? Not Me                        
We Love Your Unique Products. Just Stop Being So Different!                
Gifted? Not Me: Unidentified Everyday Genius
Telltale Signs of Everyday Genius
Facing the Truth about Ourselves
Why Must I Know This about Myself?
How Can I Know This about Myself
Misconceptions about Giftedness

3. The Everyday Genius: Lost and Found
The Ugly Duckling
When a Duck is Not a Duck
Seeing the Swan of Everyday Genius
The Everyday Genius Brought to Light
The Ugly Duckling Syndrome
Know Thyself or Lose Thyself
How Did the Swan Get Lost?

4. Lost In The IQ Game
What's Smart and What Is Not?
What is IQ, Really?
Beyond Outdated IQ
The Unexpected Gifted Adult
Mistaken Identities by the Millions
The Everyday Genius Next Door

5. Standing What You "Know" on Its Head
The Everyday Genius Mind: The Same and Different
How "Different" Becomes "Wrong"
Gifted Needs
The Destiny Question: Disown or Deliver?
Are There Others Like Me? And Are They Normal?
Rebel, Nerd, or Marvel?
Reframing Genius


6. Evolutionary Intelligence: The Next Step
Retesting the Waters of Intelligence
What's Evolution Got to Do with It?
The EvI Formula

7. The Evolutionary Intelligence Profile
About the EvI Profile
What the EvI Score Tells You
Exploring Your EvIQ Score
Evolutionary Intelligence in Real Life
It Only Looks Revolutionary After the Fact


8. Gifted or Cursed?
Correcting the "Too-Too" Misdiagnosis
Déjà vu
Gifted or Cursed? My Own Beginnings
Five Basic Truths About Giftedness
A Bittersweet Experience
The Essentials of Self-Discovery
The Real Enemy—Fitting In
The Ten Criticisms

9. Confronting the First Five Criticisms
Rewriting Personal History
Criticism #10: "Why Don't You Slow Down?"
Criticism #9: "You Worry About Everything!"
Criticism #8: "Can't You Just Stick with One Thing?"
Criticism #7: "You're So Sensitive and Dramatic!"
Criticism #6: "You Have to Do Everything the Hard Way!"

10. Getting Free from the Top Five Criticisms
Criticism #5: "You're So Demanding!"
Criticism #4: "Can't You Ever be Satisfied?"
Criticism #3: "You're So Driven!"
Criticism #2: "Where Do You Get Those Wild Ideas?"
Criticism #1: "Who Do You Think You Are?"

11. Meeting the False Self
Meeting the False Self
Five Blocks That Enslave the Self and Eclipse the Soul
Indulging the False Self
Denying Gifts and Talents
Getting Over Giftedness Guilt
The "Safe Life"
Making Friends with Risk
Seeking Approval
Breaking the Approval-Seeking Habit
Unlearning Impostorism

12. How Assets Can Become Liabilities
The Shadow Side of Everyday Genius: Disorderly Conduct
Wounds and Reactions
Looking Back to Move Forward
Everyday Genius—The Second Time Around
The "Teachable Moment"
The Reactivity Pendulum
The Unbecoming Extremes

13. The Big Three Differences: Intensity, Complexity, and Drive
Managing the Flow: No Trickles, No Torrents
Charting an Evolutionary Course
Intensity: Quantitatively Different
Complexity: Qualitatively Different
Drive: Motivationally Different

14. Self-Mastery: Managing Intensity, Complexity, and Drive
The Drive to Perfect Versus Perfectionism
Ending the PerfectionismProcrastination Seesaw: Ready, Set, Go!
Managing Feeling
Impulse Management
Reviving Your Natural Optimism
Smarter than Ever: Becoming Superconscious
From Stress Tolerance to Stress Management
The Life Balance Plan
Five Strokes of Genius for Being Successfully Different

15. The Everyday Genius in Relationships
Not Phony and Not Lonely
The Everyday Genius in Love
Partner with the Person, Not the Potential
The AcquiesceAccuse Pendulum
Listening for Love
Reflective Listening
Assertive Instead of Demanding
The Selfishness That Enhances Intimacy
Real Relating
Relationships in the Workplace: Working Together, Preserving Individuality

16. Self-Liberation
Evolutionary Moments: A Preview of Life's Coming Attractions
The Catalyzing Evolutionary Moment
True-Life Evolutionary Moments
The Rewards of Genius
Declaring a Personal Mission
Beyond I-ness
Ten Signs of Advanced Development
Reconciling the Nine Dilemmas
True Genius



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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2001

    I loved this book!!!

    I have always stood out. I knew that I was different in a vary wonderful and unique way. This book helped explain alot. In school I often would get bored. I always find that I simply cant learn enough. I loved the book

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