Sunday, July 26, 2009

Adjusting to Brilliance

Child rearing advice [cross posted from]

For the most part, in the competing memes of talent and practice, I side with the [Talent is Overrated] camp. [1] However, real talent does exist [2]. If you or a child you care for is brilliant, this essay is about how to cope with it. I'm using links to sub essays to keep the bullet points direct and succinct.

*Make sure you are as bright as you think you are. [3]

* Look for places where you are compensating. My brother Daniel is brilliant. He has severe dyslexia that was undiagnosed until he was a senior in college because he was compensating (well, he was first in his department). Had he been properly taught and helped in grade school, his life would have been much better. I have mild number dyslexia. I learned about it, and to compensate for it in 2009. Economics would have been easier if I had taken care of it thirty years earlier.

* Believe in yourself. I'll note that Daniel has brilliant ideas, still. Sometimes he shares them with me. I'm always impressed that the only weakness in his ideas is that he does not believe in how brilliant they are.

* Expect and excuse mistreatment. If you want to succeed in life you need to realize that in some contexts you will create and prompt people to be unjust and unfair and that the only successful response is to forgive them and move on. [4]

* Practice. In a study of outliers in math ability, it was discovered that by engaging in practice, the brilliant learned better than the traditional belief that the brilliant could learn best by skipping the practice. They can, but that is compensating, and they learn better with practice.

* Don't rush yourself. I started college at 17. I resisted things that would have pushed me into college at 15 or 16 or younger. My life was better for the delay.

* Learn social skills. The pretty, the social, the pleasant get better treatment in life. Kind of like learning to dress for success or how to bath regularly, you should learn how to have a social demeanor. [5]



adamf said...

I like to look at these issues from a "different kinds of intelligence" viewpoint, e.g. Goleman's Emotional Intelligence. Some people are brilliant when it comes to math, languages, etc. Some are amazing at social situations and dealing with people. Some are masters of their emotions.

Stephen said...

No debate on that point. Almost all of them have the issues I've mentioned though, some more than others (very social people are even more likely to lean on that to cover gaps in the basics).

adamf said...

For sure. We all play to our strengths to mask the weaknesses, to some extent, even if it's just underlying anxiety, self-doubt, or low self-esteem.