As a professional who works exclusively with gifted, talented, and creative professionals, I know something about the particular experiences, careers, and relationships of gifted professionals who also have communication and storytelling skills.
For more than 30 years I worked with more than 600 professions, prepared and guided executives through more than 8,000 board meetings, flew in and out of every airport in all 50 states with any connecting flights to Washington or DFW, and learned a lot about how people think and make decisions.
Through all of those years, I noticed professional leaders that seemed extraordinary, deep or complex, even over the top or a bit disruptive. I liked them the most and noticed that they got the best work and the highest loyalty from me. I did not know they were born with a gifted brain—their permanent operating system for life. I knew people often called me smart but I did not bother to investigate it further. What mattered most was there was one out of every ten professionals I knew whom I really “got” and they quickly understood me. Often, we finished each other’s sentences.
Then someone turned on the lights so I could see even better what was right in front of me the whole time.
Until someone took the time in 2015 to explain gifted adults to me, I was clueless. The double down came when I discovered I was one of them—all along. That made sense when I saw the research that says 90% of gifted adults don’t know about gifted traits and how that shows up in our relationships with others and our understandings.
For many years, I’d been exposed to plenty about gifted children, education, and the future of our workforce in those 8,000 board meetings. Almost nothing in my learning, earning, and practice as a journalist, association executive, corporate officer, and community creator connected the knowledge around gifted children with my choices to become the storyteller for the professions.
What if I could identify and introduce gifted professionals and communicators to each other, in an intentional, safe space that fulfills only two purposes—belonging and connecting? Safe means no judgments, no advice, no networking, no selling, and no transactions. Safe means only transformations and quality conversations going on here.
What if I could turn gifted professionals into master storytellers for their career life? They already seem excellent at communication and by increasing their storytelling skills, they achieve that higher level of impact they desire. Stories stick with people. Months even years from now people will remember that story you told. They will remember the way you made them feel.
Paula Prober, M.S., M.Ed., has done significant work and writing about and for gifted adults. Her first book, Your Rainforest Mind (2016) resonated with everyone I met when talking about who I am and why I am interested in dedicating all of my communication and professional advancement practice to them. Paula is a good example of a gifted professional and communicator. Her writing makes clear like tropical forests around the world, the gifted are both fragile and powerful, surrounded by threats but full of world-changing potential.
Once you know what you don’t’ know and then know more clearly what to look for, the search for other gifted professionals and communicators falls into place. Let’s have some fun with our curiosity and find out if you really are the gifted professional you seem to be. My request is you paddle over to the “totally, completely and utterly unscientific quiz” Prober created to find out. Then tell me what you find out.
Guess what? The curious, intense, sensitive, ultra-responsible professionals always send me an email with their scores. The ones who do not tell me what they found out pretty much confirms they are not a gifted adult or just went into denial when finding out.
Thinking back to years of business meetings and international conferences, I can now see the gifted among all of the professionals I’d ever met.
I remember them and I remember me in those meetings when we came off as not caring, not listening, not tuned in to the conversation going on in the business meeting. What was really happening was hard to explain. The gifted adult cares more, listens intensely, and can often repeat back what you said—exactly, not interpreting. Sometimes we appeared as the quiet one, already retreated into our rainforest brains where we already saw three possible solutions– in technicolor and vivid detail, to the problem under discussion. Sometimes we appeared as the disruptive ones, never shutting up, because we had hundreds of “gifts” and insights to give to everyone, without knowing that might intimidate instead of delight.
For the rest of my life and professional path, everything shifted and by 2017 I was on a search for myself, my tribe, and what’s worthy of my time and talents.
How can you tell if one of your professional colleagues, adult acquaintances, clients, or bosses were born gifted and will forever be that way? First, you learn more about the science, the data, and the truth around giftedness, which may have escaped you until now. Then your behavior and attitude change, for the better, when you look again at someone you’ve known a while, but this time, see through the lens of gifted traits.
These are some of the traits. The people I admire the most turned these traits into superpowers for the good of their community. The people I avoid scared me off because I did not understand how to connect with them.
If the gifted professional is less than 5% of the entire adult population, then where do they gather to support each other? Where do they go to combine their superpowers to accelerate the projects each one is working on?
Two years into the quest for that community, I discovered hundreds of tangent interest groups but nobody focused on creating conversations, connections, and positive world impact by turning gifted professionals into master storytellers about careers and relationships.
Once the gifted know who they are and who they are not, they gain strength, confidence, and resilience. From then on, it’s a matter of building skills—of getting smart about being smart. Once equipped, they find that the world in which they must make their way is far more manageable.
The gifted are super connectors. For someone who loves to connect professionals together for the greater good and greater support around our respective projects, the gifted are often shut out and feel lonely. We feel like we are giving our most precious gifts of attention and time to others and it gets misinterpreted as something so different it can’t be trusted. Ouch!
Gifted professionals love to connect. We have the capacity to go into an opening night reception at a national conference, connect immediately and warmly with 120 people in one hour, and remember all of their names and everything they told us. That level of intense absorption and recall is normal in the gifted brain. Others call it networking and we hate networking because that feels manipulative. We call it intense curiosity. Sadly, it can make others uncomfortable or greet us with blank stares.
Behind the accomplishments and extraordinary results achieved with gifted professionals are stories. That may explain why we like biographies of historic figures such as Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Jane Goodall, Marie Curie, and Rachel Carson. We want the story behind the end-game results.
The more I looked at the world through the characteristics of a gifted professional who happened to be good at communication too, the more I saw the rich trove of stories.
There are as many different manifestations of misunderstanding or communication issues as there are gifted professionals and their situations. Maybe you have found yourself in these situations. If so, the purpose for our stories is so you are not so hard on yourself and misinterpret difficulty with relationships.
The board of directors doesn’t understand me. The CEO hires me for strategy sessions or facilitation of a weekend retreat. Quickly, the real problem emerges and it’s they don’t get along. Yes, the board hired what they wanted—an extremely smart and accomplished professional, not realizing that person’s capacity could be much greater than the egos and pet projects of every board member.
I’m having trouble with my staff keeping up with me. Anyone can struggle with the daily habits that make for a healthy life, but gifted professionals often struggle more because of their ambitious nature. Time is more intense in the gifted mind. It feels like less of a burden to do the extra work themselves than have to slow down, delegate, and teach someone else. The gifted adult’s sense of timing is totally off the charts. Their brain is comfortable and performing well at a speed of 150 while most people around them (95% some research says) are always at a speed of 40.
It’s lonely at the top. What’s really going on is the gifted professional has too many wanting to suck time and energy from them and what they really want is to find others who see as deeply, hear as intensely, and feel the range of emotions they feel so that you can get a little help with some projects, without judgments that you are crazy wrong or neurotic. The whole you shows up every time but that’s not what others see.
Your balance is not my balance. What may look like a workaholic to others is just your happy day in your profession. What others don’t see is how intense and deeply you are also able to play, sleep, and get into wonderful conversations over dinner or with a shared bottle of wine.
Although it’s less than 5% of the world population, the stories of the first 1,000 I found will take me more than two years to get around to. That’s why I asked each to help me write the beginning of their story. I found that first 1,000 in my own network of more than 14,000 people who had met me personally over the years and asked to “stay connected.”
The first person I interviewed for this adventure is the chair of the board of directors for the Global Communication Certification Council of the International Association of Business Communicators, Sia Papageorgiou FRSA, SCMP. Immediately she got the vision. More rapidly she said, “Count me in. Let’s do this.” That makes her the co-founder.
While Prober’s work and writing cover the universe of all gifted adults and children, her philosophy, principles, and observations speak strongly to our little slice of heaven within the whole rainforest mind she champions. She is a psychotherapist and we are not. We are communicators who happen to be gifted professionals.
That’s why you’ll want to come forward and identify yourself as a gifted professional and communicator and be at the table as we deal out all 150 cards in the deck. We are interviewing and writing up stories of these 150 throughout this year.
That’s why we are designing this for bite-size delights of facts about the gifted + professionals + communicators walking among us.
Sia and I are proof that we can find others who love our vision and get loud and supportive when they experience the conversations.