Did you know there is such a thing as being too bright to be successful? Yes, it’s possible to see too much. If you’re a big picture thinker who is always looking for the next great fit, then read this.
At first sight, it doesn’t make sense, right? Why would someone who can see more than most ultimately achieve less? Okay, wait, let me clarify something first: You might not achieve less in a way everyone can see it. But internally, it never feels like you consistently get even close to what feels like your potential.
I used to feel like that a lot, and I didn’t get it. I thought it was a straightforward correlation: The brighter the better. The smarter the more successful. The more I see, the more I figure how things really work out, the easier I could make them work for me.
It’s a tempting and dangerous misconception.
You know, the problem isn’t being bright in the first place. The problem is that even the smartest brains are a result of evolution, and thus made to solve problems. Brains are built to trick us into believing that there is a way how things really work. And because it’s part-true (there are ways that work better than others!), it’s almost impossible to be smarter than our own brain. Very often, we cannot differ whether our brain makes something up or whether something really makes a difference.
Ultimately, our species survived, because we are brilliant at recognising patterns. And with an especially apt brain we see even more patterns. And this is where the shit happens, because at least some of them are made up. Yours, truly, brain.
Note the following tendencies:
- If you often find great patterns and have a lot of success heeding them, you will want to find this really cool, great solution – “the one true fit”. The one that allows you to serve with all of your gifts. The one in which everyone is happy. The one… Well, you get it.
- You begin to chase this one, great solution, which means you slow down, lose momentum and start to spin around (figuratively) to figure out the perfect direction in our head before you walk. The smarter the brain, the more criteria to meet, the more you slow down.
You are just too bright to put up with things being imperfect.
And that’s where things spiral downwards fast. Things tend to be either “perfect” (read more about “perfect” in an article coming up) – or utter rubbish. The truth in between, the messy stuff with the true potential – it just ceases to exist. Or rather: We throw it onto the rubbish pile. And with it, you kill a lot of opportunities for greatness.
You know… Those “perfect” goals of yours… The things that feel right and effortless, and meant to be? It’s all in your head. You define a few criteria and tell yourself that those have to be met for something to be “good enough”.
But really, those criteria? They are made up. And worse: They fall back on you, because you often don’t measure up to your own standards of “good enough”. You become terrified of disappointing someone, including yourself. You begin to hide. You become obsessed looking for this elusive fit too much – in all of your life.
That’s what happens if you let your brains own you. No what about the other way around?
Let’s get this crystal clear: Those great fits from the start, they’re bullshit. They don’t exist right away. They grow. They begin as clumsy, small and not really great looking experiments, emanating from small opportunities. They start out as messy, mediocre things you need to play with. Things that resist your expectations or measurements. (Sometimes the latter even destroys the possibility that would have been there, just saying).
Fear not: You don’t have to give up your standards. You don’t have to morph into another human being, unsee what you see, to succeed. But if you were able to allow things to evolve over time a bit more. If you were able to take baby steps and honour those. If you were able to trust the process. If you were able to recognise it’s not the lucky hits (they feed into your dangerous belief that your ability to see makes it work!), but rather the grit in between. If you were able to walk, no matter how dire and awful things might look on any given day…
If you were capable of this, you’d walk the hard path, surely. But you’d also create greater things than you ever believed possible and tap into this elusive “potential” of yours. Promise.