Who is the Everyday Genius™ among us who looked past her own complexities and fears of “not fitting in” to see the greater need for real communication among gifted professionals and communicators?
Meet Sia Papageorgiou. Her red-hot career path to communication strategist for global companies and 2021-22 chair of the international certification body for all business communicators—the Global Communication Certification Council, started with a commitment made in 9th grade. She’s got all traits of the gifted adult but didn’t realize it until recently.
There are more than 50 measurable traits of the gifted adult, also documented as Everyday Genius™ or Rainforest Mind, but to name a few, Sia has these: Extreme cognition, such as original, unusual ideas, creativity and connects seemingly unrelated ideas. Also, intense perception and emotion such as intense feelings, very perceptive, excellent and unusual sense of humor. Also, motivation and values are off the charts, such as setting high standards for self and others, being very curious, seeker of ultimate truths, and always seeking meaning in life.
For all of 2022, Sia and Georgia Patrick are on a mission to tell the stories of gifted professionals and communicators.
It all started in the spring of 2020 during the first countrywide lockdown in Australia because of COVID. It started with one phone call then a longer call a week later. As the conversation turned to stories about close colleagues we both knew we noticed, for the first time, our mutual fascination with characteristics of those born gifted and became professionals and skilled communicators.
The monthly calls between Australia and Texas became weekly calls when Sia realized, for the first time in her life, she had all characteristics of a gifted adult. “It’s so liberating and exhilarating to discover that everything you thought was wrong with you is what’s right with you!” Sia said. That sparked a series of weekly strategy sessions to figure multiple ways to identify and connect professionals just like us, actively seeking a community that may be assumed but was never built.
One trait of the gifted adult is intense curiosity. We can go down a rabbit hole and deep-dive research out of something ten times faster than others. In addition to dense reports documenting more than 50 traits of gifted adults, which Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, Psy.D. called Everyday Genius™, Sia went online to take the “totally, completely and utterly unscientific quiz to find out” if she has a Rainforest Mind. She scored “yes” to all 23 questions.
What am I supposed to do with all of this insight and life-changing, intense energy? she wondered. After all the world thinks brilliant people have it all and need no help from others. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Carol S. Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, points out that many individuals still think that intelligent people have almost guaranteed success. However, one thing that’s frequently observed is that gifted adults live with the eternal feeling that there’s something wrong with them.
Once she knew the difference between genius and simply smart, crazy or different, Sia identified hundreds of people in her network she knew as professionals wickedly good with communication and probably born with a genius brain.
The overthinking, intuitive side of Sia knows the only way to achieve big visions is to just start, one step, one conversation, and one story at a time. We’ll speak individually with everyone in our professional network who shows up in the world with gifted traits, Sia said. We’ll start with something short and focused on three questions we all have about each other. One question about professionalism, one about genius awareness, and one about communication skills, Sia believes would be enough for us, the professional writers, to do the first article about them and start the curiosity and connect-the-dots wave among the 200 we knew.
How thrilled will they be for introductions to each other? Let’s find out.
Starting with Sia, you’ll see the three questions and story starters that came back to us in their answers. We urge you to come back here every week to discover more stories and what you share in common with this professional network.
Q: Because you are a deep thinker, highly intuitive, creative, analytical, and curious, do you think you bring a particularly complex dimension to professional relationships?
Sia: I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, the middle daughter of Greek immigrant parents. Growing up with wonderful parents speaking with strong Greek accents in a very white Australia helped shape the person I am today. My ethnicity has posed some challenges for my career as well – simply because I wasn’t white Anglo-Saxon
My only agenda is to see others do well and I approach life with an open mind, heart, and arms, seeking opportunities to learn and grow through embracing the new, trusting that relationships and experiences will bring adventure and spice to life.
Whether you know me as a consultant, colleague or friend, I won’t make promises I can’t keep, believing a commitment is just that – once I make a commitment or promise I will keep it. Period. I feel disappointed, intensely, when others don’t always do what they say.
There is no such thing as overachieving among gifted adults because they overthink and overwork to exhaustion or burnout. Thinking they will never “get it all done” they find the energy and go at it faster, smarter, and more brilliant. The other problem is that this exhausts the people around them. They can’t keep up. And then comes the disappointments.
Q: Did you become a professional on purpose or did your career path open a door into the profession you identify with today?
Sia: I believe my unique gift, one I can use to contribute to my life and the lives of others, is communication. It is a gift and skill that gives my life fulfillment, creates impact, and sustains my purpose.
The gifted tend to appear as multipotential people, doing many different jobs and never deciding on one career track. That’s why we find many gifted professionals among journalists and business communicators because their energy is invested in a different person, different story, different deadlines, constantly.
As a communication professional, it is my responsibility to listen more than I speak and it’s my job to make sense of things. In this way, we can develop strategies that are informed and relevant.
Q: Which of your communication skills do you seem to work on constantly, always learning, always evolving?
Sia: I believe in being authentic – what you see is what you get. I can’t fake the way I feel. I also believe in life-long learning because no one knows it all. The world continues to evolve and so do I. And I believe in always being kind – it’s so incredibly easy.
I realize my mind is full of high goals at all times. That makes me demanding and I can collide with a reality that’s too structured and therefore not stimulating. I’ve learned that gifted adults love to ask challenging questions, those who no one else understands. That’s why constantly studying and working on storytelling skills is so critical to emotions and results.
All of this seems to work well for Sia. One client best described Sia’s highly empathetic nature by saying, “Sia is a supportive, inspirational, and professional leader and coach. She coached our team in strategic communications, sharing her passion, experience, and knowledge of communication strategy, planning, developing, and leading effective communication teams.”
Sia loves quotes and we hope to see favorite quotes in every one of these stories. Two of her favorite quotes:
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. –Stephen Covey
Words may inspire, but only action creates change. –Simon Sinek
We’ll start by telling the stories of gifted professionals and communicators. We’ll make introductions and connect them. Maybe this becomes the community we’ve searched for and need to build. If that becomes inevitable, then Sia will go further with Georgia to create a safe space–a place you go when you need to take off the masks. You can say what you want to others in the community because you know they will really listen and even if they don’t like what you say, they still like you. It’s where you take off your camouflage and still feel safe.
Each week, we feature professionals who are initiating meaningful conversations with other gifted minds and storytellers–and who they serve. They connect regularly through this blog, our newsletter, and their own emails to nurture and support the network which enriches them. See if their words and actions work for you or engage with them directly by sending a comment and sharing your insights.