Yes, I was recognized as a genius at an early age. Yes, I competed against other kids
(who were my age or older) and I performed far above average. Yes, I was lavished with attention for my
superior academic performance.
What about inner discipline? I found so many things to be easy that when
I did encounter something that did challenge me, I got frustrated easily. I would just quit
(maybe after inventing an excuse). If someone questioned my stated rationalization for quitting, I might
insist furiously that I did not care. But why so furious?
Also, what about communication and social skills? I was used to figuring things out on my own.
Most other people slowed me down. To do well in school, I certainly did not need to collaborate.
However, outside of school, I did not have much experience with other people. I was a classic nerd.
The more someone suggested I get assistance, the more I might insist on doing it myself.
What about when I got smarter than most adults and they did not understand my ideas (or did not find them
interesting)? Again, I lacked discipline and communication skills. Spoiled by the attention I got in schools,
I resented other people in my personal life for not being more admiring, more flattering, and more grateful.
Why weren’t they more like the recruiters who competed for my attention?
I was not just a classic nerd. I was also an under-appreciated, frustrated genius.
In other words, I was an arrogant brat.
Eventually, after years of boredom and frustration in graduate school, I was motivated to try something new.
The good news is that I learned a lot. The bad news is that being a genius was often irrelevant or even
counter-productive. I was simply not interested in many popular subjects and conversation topics.
I would rather read an entertaining book.
Also, I did not really want to find other geniuses. I wanted to find people that gave me social validation.
I wanted everything to be easy.
I wanted life to be more like school. In school, the teacher gives us the answers, which we memorize and repeat back.
Then, we get rewarded. We do not need to understand most of the material. Neither does the teacher.
Even if some idea taught in science class was disproven decades prior, I just wanted to know how to get a good grade.
Maybe other people valued comprehension and intelligence, but I just wanted someone to assign me
a curriculum and then be interested in me conforming to their rituals.
Over the years, I encountered interpersonal challenges, financial challenges, and then serious health challenges.
All of those challenges focused my motivation. Eventually, I realized that
if I networked with other people who were unusually perceptive at least in one area of expertise, that
could be very good for me.
I could develop new skills, especially by modeling successful people or even getting trained by them.
I could get better at communication (as long as I recognized a potential benefit to me
through the communication). I could get better at self-discipline in general (again, as long as I recognized a potential reward).
Eventually, some of those folks might also be perceptive enough (and desperate enough) to recognize my strengths. I could form mutually-attractive partnerships (the kind that everyone involved would value nurturing). Instead of just being an isolated genius, I could be part of a network of people getting breakthrough results from insightful, elegant innovations. That seemed like such an attractive outcome that it would even be worth some experiments and learning from “trial and error.” After all, that is the kind of thing that geniuses love, right?