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Why You’re Brilliant and Probably Don’t Even Know It

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thoughtful young business woman

Do you think of yourself as brilliant?

You know you’re different than everyone else in some way, but you’ve had a hard time putting your finger on it. And it’s not that you’ve got the kind of brain that publishes the next bestseller, drafts a peace agreement, discovers a particle or finds the largest prime number.

People think about intelligence in many ways. There’s that supposedly objective measure called IQ. And there’s the theory of multiple intelligences — the idea that several different types of intelligence (including musical, visual, verbal, etc.) exist rather than a single generalized cognitive ability. And there’s wisdom, usually acquired through experience.

Brilliance is a certain kind of personality that sees humor where others don’t, tragedy where others are tranquil, beauty in the ordinary, and a dullness in the standard. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

And it’s rare enough that you may feel lonely much of the time.

Below are five ways you probably didn’t know you were brilliant:

1. Multipotentiality

This word means the state of having multiple exceptional skills, any of which could make for a great career. For example, in school, you excelled at art, math and the humanities. You may have also been a stellar athlete.

While this can sound more like a blessing than a curse, having too many options can get in the way of deep investment and actualizing your brilliance. As a result, you may not fully understand how amazing you are.

2. High sensitivity and perceptivity

You process sensory data much more deeply and thoroughly than other people. You pick up on subtleties, like intonation, facial expressions and minor contradictions. You’re highly empathic and intuitive, and you notice things most people never would.

The flipside is that you’re often seen as too emotional, too nice or introverted, and your skills can be overlooked without a good level of self-awareness and self-advocacy.

3. Insatiable curiosity

You need to know all the things. You have a thirst for knowledge, and when you’re into something, you’ll stop at nothing to understand all there is to know about the topic. You voraciously blaze through books, and your interests may change from month to month.

While your insatiable curiosity can be fun, it can also mean you have an unquenchable need for stimulation. This can feel like unfulfillment when you’re at a job that doesn’t quench your thirst.

4. Perfectionism

You have the highest of standards for nearly everything in your life, and that’s a marker of your brilliance. When you care about something, you have a laser-like attention to detail that ensures what you’re putting out is the best you can offer.

Perfectionism often leads to procrastination and avoidance. When we can’t have it perfect, we don’t do anything at all. The self-aware perfectionist knows how to harness their perfectionism to work for them instead of against them.

5. Entelechy

This is the epitome of your brilliance — perfectionism applied to one’s own self-actualization. It’s the drive to evolve and focus on your highest goals.

There’s no shadow to entelechy, though it does mean you’re not taking the easy path in life. You won’t settle for unfulfilling careers, empty relationships or any kind of stagnation. The drive to shake things up can cause a lot of unrest, and it can be hard for the people around you. But those of us with entelechy can have it no other way.

Tell us in the comments, do these markers of brilliance resonate for you? How could thinking in a new way about your brilliance impact your career trajectory?

Sara Harrier is a life coach who helps intelligent, highly sensitive and unconventional individuals own their smarts, settle the score with pesky inner goblins and build their own life-changing revolutions. She has a master’s in social work, and one of her specialties is working hands-on with clients to map out their next career move or entrepreneurial dream.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://internetdreams.com/ Samuel

    I tend to be a very visual person. I also tend to be multi-talented in certain areas and that’s a temptation to work on everything.

    Focus on one goal at a time.

    Thanks for the article.

    – Sam

    • Sara Harrier

      Yeah, you are! I just clicked on your name and saw that you’re an entrepreneur, bodybuilder, and DJ. Sounds like multipotentiality to me! For some people, it’s absolutely necessary to focus on one thing at a time; you’re totally right. Thanks for the comment.

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  • Kaz

    I stumbled on this by accident, but yes I do definitely recognise myself here. At least I now know there is a name for it!

    • Sara Harrier

      I’m glad you stumbled here, Kaz! There are other names for it too… like “gifted.” I’d invite you to read the book The Gifted Adult, by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen… and tell me what you think! :)

  • Mims

    Procrastination is turning more and more into an issue for me these days. I’ve been a perfectionist my whole life and i don’t like it all the time. Currently, i am interested in things very different from each other and it’s hard for me to decide where i should dedicate my time. I really have no idea what i should be doing. I kind of feel overloaded but that doesn’t make sense; to be overloaded by one’s own interests? I’m lonely a lot and it makes me despise myself because i feel like i’m too sentimental. To rid myself of loneliness i text my friends but i find myself bored in a matter of minutes. It’s quite annoying to be all of the things mentioned above and not know what to do with them. I feel like this “brilliance” has chosen the wrong person to occupy.

    • Sara Harrier

      Wow, Mims. Your comment just gave me goosebumps. Your feelings are totally understandable. My article here is just the tip of the iceberg… it’s just a superficial taste of what’s called “gifted theory.”

      I get that you’re overwhelmed, immobilized, lonely… and I want you to know that there’s a whole body of literature and other people who struggle with similar issues.

      Would you be willing to come over to my blog and read more about it? I think you’ll see that you’re not alone in this.

      Come find me at http://www.saraharrier.com. And reach out anytime. I was born to talk about this stuff with people. <3

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  • http://www.libertysingularity.com matty

    im 26 and Procrastination is the core issue for me, i don’t know if i am a perfectionist or not i have a few projects i am working on very slowly, art photography music and im also setting up an on-line business, i suffer from depression and social anxiety i feel like that i am stupid and lack a huge chunk of what too need to succeed i have a picture in my mind of were i want to be and who i want to be, i want to be able to to do everything i enjoy now but with out the procrastination and everything else , my ideal would someone with an active creative career in photography music and art funned by a successful on-line business … sometimes i feel like i have no voice in my head cos i suffer aslo from dyslexic … so commenting like this takes me that much longer .. so the struggle to get to that point in my life that i want is a daily battle i don’t belove this makes any more brilliant than anyone else as we all are battling for our true selfs in the individual sense and in the world wide sense