Gifted Adults (and Grindhopping)
This post will be both about a serious topic... and a shameless plug for my new book, which I just learned is now available at Amazon.com (not just for pre-order; they're actually shipping! You can order in time for Christmas, in case anyone on your list likes career books). It's called Grindhopping: Build a Rewarding Career without Paying Your Dues, and is published by McGraw-Hill. The thesis is that if you're a young, ambitious person with out-of-the-box career aspirations, you don't have to pay your dues in the corporate grind to get anywhere. You can hop out of it, and build a micro-business or freelancing venture doing what you love, without much capital or experience. Indeed, thanks to technology, there's never been an easier time to do just that.
So what does this have to do with gifted education? Well, it turns out that Grindhoppers, as I call them, are often grown-up gifted children (gifted adults, in the official terminology.) Like gifted children, gifted adults tend to have certain characteristics that make them different from average. There's a list of some of the characteristics posted here.
Many of these characteristics make climbing up a typical corporate hierarchy difficult. For instance, gifted adults tend to be perfectionist, both toward themselves and others. There's little "go along to get along." They can also be very aware of slights and moral issues, all of which are part and parcel of group dynamics. They often feel out-of-sync with others, so they don't like to identify with groups. They question authority and rules. They have many interests and learn things rapidly -- far faster than a career track ("we promote people to senior account manager only after 3 years") says they can.
Of course, while all these characteristics make climbing a hierarchy unpleasant, they make gifted adults into great entrepreneurs. As anyone who's run a business knows, when you're in charge, and when it's your idea on the line, you have to learn to do everything. You have to learn to do it yesterday. And you have to be better than everyone else at what you do, which makes perfectionism a good thing. You can also run your business based on whatever morality you think is right. For instance, one of my Grindhoppers' new start-up ventures, GreenPrint, was profiled yesterday in Walter Mossberg's column in the Wall Street Journal. GreenPrint stops your printer from printing wasted pages, e.g., ones with just a line of text, like the copyright statement at the bottom of a webpage. This particular Grindhopper really values the environment, and so can run a company that exists both to make money and to save trees.
I certainly did not ask my subjects' IQs, nor did I ask if they'd been in gifted classes growing up. But I could certainly sense the same impatience that I'm sure many readers of this blog see in their children.