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. The stories create the vibe which launches the community for Gifted Professionals and Communicators before 2023.
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: Building genuine and trusted relationships is one of my superpowers – honesty, integrity and authenticity are very important to me. I try to always approach life with an open mind, heart, and arms, seeking opportunities to learn and grow by embracing the new, trusting that my relationships and experiences will bring adventure to my life. But this sometimes exhausts me, and I often feel responsible for problems that don’t actually belong to me.
I am the middle daughter of Greek immigrant parents who spoke English with strong Greek accents. I grew up in a very white Australia and was physically and verbally assaulted because of my background. These experiences have helped shape the person I am today and have heightened my awareness of injustice and human suffering
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. So, 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 brilliantly. The other problem is that this exhausts the people around them. They can’t keep up. And then come 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: While I never expected to specialize in strategic communication [I started my career as a broadcast journalist], I’ve always believed my unique gift, one I can use to contribute to my life and the lives of others, is communication. It’s a gift and skill that gives my life fulfillment, creates impact, and sustains my purpose – which is harnessing the power and possibility of communication to inspire and create a better society.
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, and different deadlines, constantly.
Q: Which of your communication skills do you seem to work on constantly, always learning, always evolving?
Sia: I’m a life-long learner and that means every day is an opportunity for me to improve and grow. The one skill I’m always conscious of mastering though, is listening. As a communication professional, it’s my responsibility to listen more than I speak and it’s my job to make sense of things. In this way, I can develop strategies that are informed and relevant.
I realize my mind is full of high goals at all times. That can sometimes make 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 listening and 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 nothing short of inspirational. As soon as the course began I was incredibly engaged and fired up to learn. The course struck a wonderful balance of engaging but not stressful. Constant reassurance that this was a learning opportunity, not a time for criticism or “wrong answers” meant that I felt comfortable sharing my ideas for feedback. It was really enjoyable, and I am leaving feeling more capable, and excited to implement all that I’ve learned.”
Sia loves quotes and we hope to see favorite quotes in every one of these stories. Two of her favorite quotes:
The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why. — Mark Twain
The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size. — Albert Einstein
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.
As often as proves practical, 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.