This excerpt from “Gifted Workers: Hitting The Target” by Noks Nauta and Sieuwke Ronner is being republished with permission.
Gifted off course: unguided missiles?
A powerful personality who causes problems and does not have a clear profile and direction, conjures up the image of an unguided missile in his or her environment – someone who cannot be guided, who cannot cooperate with others, cannot be communicated with, a ‘know it all’, unsociable towards colleagues and supervisors (and also towards partners and friends). Such behaviour by the gifted not only creates irritation, but also fear and uncertainty. We think that going off course has two sides and reflects the interplay between the gifted and his or her environment.
The gifted may quickly understand how things are put together; they can adapt quickly, enjoy a lot of things, and look for new solutions to problems. They are able to see new opportunities because of their deductive powers and do not really fit into a structured environment. These factors may create many problems not only in their work environment, but also in personal relationships.
Some employers like creative, enthusiastic employees. A gifted person can be a major source of inspiration within his or her environment. Other employers prefer adjusted, methodical employees, leaving little room for the gifted to be ‘different.’ The options for the gifted person who wants to keep his or her job are to wither away, or to adjust, potentially creating a loss of passion and enthusiasm. This may cause the individual to become increasingly irritated, quarreling about other people’s mistakes; the pattern may lead to justifying themselves everywhere or to begin accusing others. The same passion that was once a strength becomes a trap.
The result is that such individuals no longer know what they do well; they lose contact with their feelings, no longer know what they want, and lose their inspiration. In short, they go off course.
How does this process work exactly?
Although we think that a separate book can be written on this subject alone, we do have some observations regarding this, based on our cases.
‘Falling back’ on the brain
When they lose their balance, you often see gifted people ‘falling back’ on their talent: their intelligence.
A gifted person tends to focus more on the content than on the process. Their focus on the content strengthens the feeling of not being recognised for what they are, i.e. different from other people, and that they are not valued for what drives them.
The fear of not being recognised or valued, or even more strongly, feeling rejected, may result in a gifted person closing off his or her emotions or expressing them in a destructive way. Obstructive thoughts also play a role, such as:
- I must be perfect,
- I am not allowed to make mistakes,
- Everybody must like me.
These are obstructive thoughts that occur very often, especially in gifted people.
Most of our case profiles reveal this thought pattern. In every case, to one degree or another, we found that these individuals lost contact with their own power and inspiration, resulting in losing the connection with their own environment.
Dealing with emotions
In nearly every case in this book we discuss individuals experiencing great difficulties in feeling their own emotions (including positive emotions). We believe that reconnecting with your feelings is the first step to get back on course. For that reason we always pay a lot of attention to feelings while working with the gifted person.
In many of these cases, we see that our subjects lose the ‘connection’ to their environment, resulting in part from their extremely quick observations and their critical thinking. What strikes us is that many gifted people communicate mainly at the objective content level and not on the emotional relationship level.
If, as a gifted person, you become aware that you no longer are connecting and you then train yourself to develop communication skills, you have taken a second step towards setting a new course.
Hitting the target!
As we said before, when laying out these cases, we pay a lot of attention to these two aspects: dealing with emotions (feeling again) and relationships in the form of communication. We believe that these are the two most important elements for getting back on course. Our motive in writing this book was to provide guidance in how to do that.
We use a number of methods, including painting, drawing, hiking, writing stories, provocative coaching, and exploring core qualities. This is not an exhaustive list, but explains some of our ideas for connecting with gifted people, to provide support in their journey to regain balance in their lives. Of course as a gifted person you yourself play a large role in all of this.
In the examples we described, many of the gifted people realise their own role in the situation only after problems (such as exhaustion or being fired) occur. They then become aware of:
- their talents and their effects on their environment;
- their motivation and passion;
- their specific traps which are closely connected to being gifted;
- other ways to deal with their talents and passions;
- other ways to explain their talents to their environment;
- a work environment that can do justice to their talents. The gifted need a work environment with the freedom to ‘explore’ and where they can unleash their creativity. These are important conditions for making their gifts visible.
For many of these individuals, this consciousness-raising becomes a sometimes difficult investigative process. What is happening here? What am I doing? Why do I react this way? Who am I? What do I really want? What drives me in my work and in my life? What is really important to me?
But the process also forces them to understand that changing their interactions with their environment is a very important step in order to make effective changes. Are you willing to look at yourself? What is your part in the problems or conflicts that come up? If you focus only on whatever may be wrong with your boss, or your colleagues, or your organisation, you are destined to fail.
Every change must begin with you. So, you have to choose to change. Starting your own investigation demands courage and guts, because there is no guidebook. General, well-meaning suggestions that may be useful for many people, do not automatically apply to the gifted.
Four basic questions for yourself
In summary, here are four basic questions you can ask yourself to find your course again:
- How do I reconnect with my own feelings and recognise what really moves me?
- Which obstructive thoughts do I have regarding myself and my environment?
- How do I recognise my inspiration and drive, and how do I regain those if I fall back into my negative patterns?
- How do I regain the connection with my environment?
By searching for answers to these questions most of the people we describe succeeded, with or without professional guidance, to escape their traps and return to a healthier course.
Read more in “Gifted Workers: Hitting The Target” by Noks Nauta and Sieuwke.
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