A friend and I used to love marvelling at the fact that the most brilliant people are seldom the most successful. The smartest person in the room, the most talented, often works for someone else who is less gifted than them. The most brilliant person, is often partly hidden behind someone else who doesn’t shine so brightly – that accountant in the corner with her head down.

If you are this person (child) or in charge of this person (parent/teacher/guardian) please take note: many adults, when they spot brilliance in a child erroneously try to build it up by pushing the child, delaying and withholding praise. For instance, you realise that your child is very intelligent so when they get 9 out of 10 for a test you ask; “Why didn’t you get 10/10. What happened with the one question?”, instead of high fiving them for getting 9 answers out of 10 right.
Your child is an amazing actor. Instead of congratulating them for a great performance as the lead in the school play, you point out that one scene they fluffed with comments like “Maybe we should get you an acting coach.”

Because you mean well.
Because you know they can get so much better. This child can be super amazing and take over the world.

This approach may work for some people, I honestly don’t know anyone who thrives more under criticism than praise BUT they may exists.

I do know for a fact though, that this approach cripples many brilliant people, because the only message that lands is “I am good, but not good enough. I am not there yet.” and because they never get that High 5 from mom/dad/teacher they grow up with ZERO sense of what good enough feels like, so they never realise that potential, because you know…”Not yet, I am still not good enough. I need one more degree, two more years of practice, another apprenticeship…” All they know is to strive.

The best way to help someone awesome to grow up to do awesome things is to actually help them believe that awesome is who they are. It is not a doing or a having. It is not a striving. It is a BEING. If they want to put in an extra hour of tutorials or practice, it should be because it pleases them, not as a way to unlock their awesomeness because then you are implying that they could be awesome but they aren’t. You are saying that awesomeness is in a doing or having of something currently not part of their being.  BUT if they weren’t already awesome, you wouldn’t be harassing them in the first place.

Here’s to awesomeness as a state of being.

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