Gifted Children Do Not Become Gifted Employees
June 1, 2015

Gifted Children Do Not Become Gifted Employees

by Brian de Haaff

Were you one of the lucky ones to be considered gifted in school? Chances are, you were not.

Only 6-10 percent of school-age kids in the U.S. are labeled as gifted, needing enrichment beyond the general classroom. These students are believed to have a deeper capacity to learn and understand complex subjects — and great potential. The very reason they are set apart is because they will become bored, frustrated, or unmotivated when they are placed with low or average learners.

These kids get a gold star just for being naturally bright, while everyone else just sits there and tries like crazy to be their best

Once the gifted label is granted to children through testing, it sticks with kids throughout their school career. Teachers are given the challenge to ensure these gifted students will discover their true potential.

From the beginning, the gifted just seem to be set apart to do great things. They seem to have the way paved for them. But what happens to gifted students once they enter the workforce?

You may think that they continue to have all the advantages when they reach adulthood. That is not necessarily true.

My experience after working with hundreds of the brightest professionals is that gifted children do not automatically turn into gifted employees, and here is why.

Everyone told them they were awesome

Gifted children hear all the time that they are special, and they internalize all that positivity until it becomes the foundation of their confidence. When they turn into adults, they may be surprised that no one is telling them how awesome they are anymore. They will also face new challenges that will stretch them. Not being the best is often a blow to their self-esteem.

They have to set their own course

Once they get out of school, they may be surprised that no one is making sure they are being challenged or mapping out their career path for them. They have to take charge of their own life. That can be a tough lesson, especially for someone who has never had to struggle before.

Work is hard

Just because a student received that gifted label does not mean they will automatically succeed at their job. Once they enter the workforce, the benefits of the gifted label all but disappear. No one cares anymore. Natural ability is only a very small factor of success at work.

If you were not considered one of the gifted, take heart. The gifted may have natural smarts, but what matters more is the sheer effort you put into the job. Gifted children do not become gifted employees automatically.

Are you willing to work harder than everyone else and put in the time required to excel? If you do, you will be more likely to succeed.

When it comes down to it, the scrappy person who knows the value of hard work has a better chance at success, whether they are labeled gifted or not.

Have you seen someone who was labeled gifted as a child struggle with work?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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