Last week I posted an interview that was a compilation of my conversations with gifted adults.  Today, I want to build on that topic a bit.  How many of you gifted adults have been afraid of making a mistake – of failing?  My experience with both myself and the gifted adults with whom I speak is that this is a very common feeling.

Like gifted children, adults struggle with allowing room for error, interpreting it as a measure of failure instead of the learning curve that it is.  Many gifted adults spend far to much of their energy “shoulding” themselves – you know, “I should have done this” or “I should have done that”.

Being a writer has given me first hand experience with this particular aspect of giftedness – profoundly so.  As with most gifted adults, I am talented at many things.  I am driven and have learned to channel that aspect of my personality in a way that enables me to achieve pretty easily in the workforce.

For this reason, I thought I would “master” writing with similar ease.


I work hard – very hard – to learn this craft and understand an industry I have little previous knowledge of.  I struggle with the internal voice of doubt that speaks so loudly at times that nothing shuts it out.

Sound familiar?

The problem isn’t related to skill in writing – the problem has to do with my own perfectionism as it relates to giftedness.

So, what do I do?  How do I remember that it is through our failures – our own learning curve – that we grow?

For me, it is a conscious decision I make daily (heck, sometimes hourly) – a deliberate act of reminding myself that it is through the perceived hard things that I grow.  Failure, once looked at as a sure sign that I was not as talented as I thought, is now an indicator that growth is on the horizon – that I am challenging myself in new ways.  Perfectionism, once looked at with disdain, is appreciated as the driving force behind my work ethic.

Does that mean I never have off days?  Those of you with whom I speak on a daily basis KNOW I have very off days at times – just like anyone.  But I have found a way to use the logical aspects of my giftedness to assist the more emotional sides of my personality – and for me, it works.

Most of the time.

What do you do?  Do you every have these kinds of feelings?


4 thoughts on “Failure is death: The Trials of Gifted Adults

  1. Great post, Christine. I’m sending a link to it over to my daughter. Right now, she’s so afraid she’ll fail that doing her college homework is killing her. We talked about this over the weekend, but I think she needs to hear it from someone other than her mom. Thanks. =o)

  2. Sometimes I notice that not quite worked out perfectionism rear it’s ugly head and then wreck havoc. Maybe the off days feel so off because the on days feel so exhilarating? Do all gifted feel so exhilarated by the on days? Very thought provoking. Thank you.

  3. I’m glad you used the plural “trials” because there are several, haha! I think it is hard for gifted adults to deal with setbacks (my preferred term) because we are just different in our thinking, not better or worse — our intensity just makes it more challenging, the “more” effort we put into everything just makes the setbacks harder to swallow. Top it off with having to deal with the impostor syndrome. Yes, I have many talents, but a struggle I have is even coming out to blog about being a “gifted” adult. It seems easier to acknowledge we are high-ability than to say we are gifted.

  4. I’ve said for years “thou shalt not should on they self.”

    N my working world I find that I’m the last to turn in weekly inventory numbers – checking, rechecking, second guessing, refigureing, and then I still question why I’d didn’t do it better what should I have done differently. I often forget that I run a business with 30 employees and I am not the only person that effects the final outcome. Yet I feel as though its a direct reflection of who and what I am?! Sigh – ultimately we continually do well, and I am learning ever so slowly to be a bit kinder to myself. I have just recently discovered information on gifted adults – humm.. Thanks for letting me share…

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