Originally Posted by aeh
A few more musings from my life experience: one of my siblings has a profound gift in a particular area, even notable in the context of being globally profoundly gifted. Another of my siblings has been hyperfocused on the profession which they currently practice since well before school age. I, on the other hand, always had many interests, with sufficiently diverse gifts that several of them quite reasonably could have been pursued into excellence.

I'd just like to add that even if you have an extreme gift in one area, it doesn't mean that you have to pursue that thing.

I don't agree with everything in this article - I'm an anti-capitalist and I think that the idea that there has to be something you'll find amazingly fulfilling that the market will also reward you for is naive. I think it's wrong that the ideas of life's purpose and money are linked the way that they are. (That's just my view; you don't need to agree.) But I think this part is spot on:

So what if your destiny doesn’t stalk you like a lion? Can you think your way to the answer? That’s what Lori Gottlieb thought. She considered her years as a rising television executive in Hollywood to be a big mistake. She became successful but felt like a fraud. So she quit and gave herself three years to analyze which profession would engage her brain the most. She literally attacked the question. She dug out her diaries from childhood. She took classes in photography and figure drawing. She interviewed others who had left Hollywood. She broke down every job by skill set and laid that over a grid of her innate talents. She filled out every exercise in What Color Is Your Parachute?

Eventually, she arrived at the following logic: Her big brain loved puzzles. Who solves puzzles? Doctors solve health puzzles. Therefore, become a doctor. She enrolled in premed classes at Pepperdine. Her med-school applications were so persuasive that every school wanted her. And then — can you see where this is headed? — Lori dropped out of Stanford Medical School after only two and a half months. Why? She realized that she didn’t like hanging around sick people all day.

The point is, being smarter doesn’t make answering The Question easier. Using the brain to solve this problem usually only leads to answers that make the brain happy and jobs that provide what I call “brain candy.” Intense mental stimulation. But it’s just that: candy. A synthetic substitute for other types of gratification that can be ultimately more rewarding and enduring. As the cop in East L.A. said of his years in management at Rockwell, “It was like cheap wood that burns too fast.”

I struggled with this myself, but not until I had listened to hundreds of others did the pattern make itself shockingly clear. What am I good at? is the wrong starting point. People who attempt to deduce an answer usually end up mistaking intensity for passion. To the heart, they are vastly different. Intensity comes across as a pale busyness, while passion is meaningful and fulfilling. A simple test: Is your choice something that will stimulate you for a year or something that you can be passionate about for 10 years?

I doubt I'm as smart as AEH's sibling, but I do have a particular gift on top of being globally PG. I majored in that field (and another). A friend at one of the top universities for that field told me that he didn't know anyone else who was as naturally talented in it as me, with one possible exception.

I didn't go to grad school in that field. I only play around with it these days. I don't regret that at all. It's not my passion. It was "brain candy" for me. It would have burned me out.

I have multiple passions, and multiple interests that don't reach the level of passions. And that's okay. Some people are just what Barbara Sher calls "scanners" (I highly recommend her book Refuse to Choose) and others call "multipotentialites."

Your cognitive profile doesn't necessarily determine what you should do.