Gifted? Genius? What’s the difference?

Giftedness versus Genius

 

I’d like to spend a moment looking at this distinction– because it’s basic to how many people see themselves and evaluate their capabilities. But just for a moment, let’s assume that giftedness and genius really are the same thing. In that case, a person who jumps very quickly through the hoops of elementary school should continue jumping for all the years to come. But very often this isn’t what happens.

Do you know if you are gifted?

You see, our perception of giftedness and genius has often depended to some extent on the age of the person we’re considering. Sooner means smarter, in other words. The sooner a child learns to read, or learns to play the piano, or learns to do long division, the more genius-like that child is perceived to be.

There are a couple of things wrong with that perception. First, a number of the world’s all time great geniuses were at first thought to be anything but gifted.

Secondly, it’s by no means the rule that prodigious children turn out to be genius adults. To some extent, this may be because of the extra stresses that are placed on obvious prodigies. A lot is expected of them, and burnout is a frequent consequence. But it’s also possible that many seemingly gifted children aren’t really gifted — or, rather, they’re no more gifted than the boys and girls around them. The fact is, childhood is simply a time when there’s a lot of emphasis on measurement — and it’s also a time when things are pretty easy to measure. Standardized tests are a staple of American education, as they have been for almost fifty years. There are all kinds of instruments for measuring a child’s achievement levels, as well as their innate capacity to reason and to learn. And sometimes there’s a dramatic difference between those two measures. When that difference exists, the concept of the “underachieving child” comes into play. It’s the definition of a child who has unusual potential which is not showing itself in equally unusual achievement.

But at some point, we stop measuring people in the same way. If we kept it up, we would see some things that are obvious to the casual observer, but are rarely documented by the kind of standardized tests that we’re constantly giving to children. Even as casual observers, we see that other often people catch up to the gifteds and the prodigious. The child, who finished his math workbook before everyone else even started, did something impressive — but sooner or later everybody else finished their math workbooks too. Sooner or later, everybody learned to read and to spell. I might mention, in fact, that a huge and very profitable industry has grown up around the idea of giftedness in children, but there’s no such profit motive in the grown up world. Sure, we know there are highly talented adults who don’t access all of their capabilities. Or who don’t get the recognition they deserve. We know that Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime, and that Emily Dickinson only published three poems in her lifetime. Still, there is no readily accepted concept of “underachieving gifted adult”….

We all are the sum of our choices, or are we?

Which is a pity, since I can almost guarantee that that’s exactly what you are. I can virtually assure you that you’re a latent genius…and once you understand what genius really means, I’m certain that you’ll come to agree with me.

The word genius happens to have a very rich heritage. Today we talk about people being geniuses, but in the past people had a genius. Instead of something that you were, genius was something that you possessed, or, that possessed you. For the Romans, the word genius referred to a guardian spirit that protected people throughout the journey of their lives. Every individual was born with a unique genius that looked after them, helped them out of difficulties, and inspired them at crucial moments. At someone’s birthday, the Romans celebrated the birthday of the genius as well as the person. They celebrated the mysterious power with the person as well as the physical human being.

Do you know someone who has been told they are gifted or a genius? What impact has that label been on their lives? Do you think we try and stick our children into certain “boxes” and ask them to be something they may not be?

Let us know what you think in the comment section of this blog. Your thoughts and experiences may serve to help others!

 

Do birthdays bring more knowledge or just another mark of time?

 

Dr. Tony Alessandra has authored 14 books translated into 17 foreign languages, recorded over 50 audio and video programs, and delivered over 2,000 keynote speeches since 1976.  This article has been adapted from Dr. Alessandra’s Nightingale-Conant audio CD series, Secrets of Ten Great Geniuses, available at http://www.alessandra.com/products.asp

 

Advertisements

About Assessment Business Center
Dr. Tony Alessandra has a street-wise, college-smart perspective on business, having been raised in the housing projects of NYC to eventually realizing success as a graduate professor of marketing, entrepreneur, business author, and hall-of-fame keynote speaker. He earned a BBA from the Univ. of Notre Dame, an MBA from the Univ. of Connecticut and his PhD in marketing from Georgia State University. In addition to being president of Assessment Business Center, a company that offers online 360º assessments, Tony is also a founding partner in The Cyrano Group and Platinum Rule Group--companies which have successfully combined cutting-edge technology and proven psychology to give salespeople the ability to build and maintain positive relationships with hundreds of clients and prospects. Dr. Alessandra is a prolific author with 27 books translated into over 50 foreign language editions, including the newly revised, best selling The NEW Art of Managing People (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2008); Charisma (Warner Books, 1998); The Platinum Rule (Warner Books, 1996); Collaborative Selling (John Wiley & Sons, 1993); and Communicating at Work (Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 1993). He is featured in over 50 audio/video programs and films, including Relationship Strategies (American Media); The Dynamics of Effective Listening (Nightingale-Conant); and Non-Manipulative Selling (Walt Disney). He is also the originator of the internationally-recognized behavioral style assessment tool - The Platinum Rule®. Recognized by Meetings & Conventions Magazine as "one of America's most electrifying speakers," Dr. Alessandra was inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame in 1985. In 2009, he was inducted as one of the “Legends of the Speaking Profession,” in 2010 and 2011 he was selected as one of the Top 5 Marketing Speakers by Speaking.com, and in 2010 Tony was elected into the inaugural class of the Sales Hall of Fame. Tony's polished style, powerful message, and proven ability as a consummate business strategist consistently earn rave reviews and loyal clients. Contact information for Dr. Tony Alessandra: • Dr. Tony’s Products: http://www.alessandra.com/products/index.asp • Keynote Speeches: Holli Catchpole: Phone: 1-760-603-8110 ● Email: Holli@SpeakersOffice.com • Corporate Training: Scott Zimmerman: Phone: 1-330-848-0444 x2 ● Email: Scott@PlatinumRuleGroup.com • Cyrano CRM System: Scott Zimmerman: Phone: 1-330-848-0444 x2 ● Email: Scott@PlatinumRuleGroup.com

11 Responses to Gifted? Genius? What’s the difference?

  1. Earle Fowler says:

    I think you are dead on with your perceptions. I’ll go a step further and say we need to revert to what you identified as genius being a possession or gift we hold rather than something we are. Perhaps you’ve hit on a problem in our society. When we see our selves as being something rather than doing something that is not very realistic. I for one am going to change my outlook on this. I am not a real estate manager, I manage real estate as one of the things I do. Thanks Dr. Tony! PS I believe we all have some type of genius in us, although, for various reasons, we don’t always find it and set it to use. Great post! I look forward to the next one!

  2. wonderful post.Never knew this, regards for letting me know.

  3. Robert Krupa says:

    Hi Dr. A
    I’m always inspired by your writings, especially your insights, such as Van Gogh only selling one painting and Emily Dickinson only publishing three poems in her lifetime. I enjoy the way you make the keen distinctions between being a “genius” and possessing “genius,” which as a characteristic of ones personality, may very well be responsible for recognizing one as a genius.
    Anyway I enjoy reading that and the many other factors you deliver in your writings to give us a complete conceptual understanding of the topic you are writing about. The image or picture you complete for us mentally with your written compositions are truely inspiring.
    I now understand what your mom meant when she would always tell Gary and myself when we were young that you, (tony), were a gifted child. Thanks Dr. A

  4. […]very couple of internet sites that take place to be in depth beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly properly worth checking out[…]

  5. I just want to tell you that I am all new to blogging and site-building and absolutely enjoyed your website. Likely I’m want to bookmark your blog . You definitely come with really good article content. Thanks for sharing with us your blog site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: