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    The Greatest Remedy for Boredom or Loneliness: Curiosity!

    A post or two back I mentioned that boredom wasn't a big problem in my junior high group because we each had found our subjects of passion. We weren't bored because we were busy exploring our fields of deep interest. Of course, an alternate name for our passion could be “deep curiosity.”

    Curious Group

    Your health-building curiosity expands rapidly in the presence of other people who enjoy exploring their curiosity as well. (sketch - danetta-armm - friend)

    So, let me aim curiosity more directly at your feelings of boredom or loneliness. Who cares how gifted you are, or where your greatest talents may lie. If you're feeling bored or lonely, let's just take a look at the way you experience curiosity. Maybe that will lead us someplace helpful.

    A lot of gifted and talented people might have a personal focus on a small range of possible achievements, but they also live with a very broad interest in the world in general. There are millions of STEM people who also love art, or music, or architecture. There are tons of musicians who can build awesome electronic devices to augment their music. And most of these people absolutely love to hang out with people outside of their normal range of interests.

    In my case, I'm an astrophysicist. I used to be considered a serious keyboard and guitar player. One of my favorite things to do even these days is to hang out with the jazz cats. We talk music, and we talk the world's problems. It's a blast.

    In the 1960s the musicians and the visual artists used to hang out in famous groups in many of the world's big cities. Some of these groups also become visibly active in social issues, most notably at that time the war in Viet Nam.

    If you are gifted and talented in some way, but you haven't found the passion for a field of work that speaks to you, simply get curious about other gifted and talented people in your age group. You'll have to practice this and get used to this. But here's what happens if you do:

    Spending time with other gifted people, regardless of their interests, will help you explore much more of what the world has to offer much more quickly than simply hanging out by yourself. If you keep practicing making friends and hanging out with other gifted people, both your boredom and your loneliness will evaporate. That's not to say that every problem you feel automatically disappears. It is to say that building a community of your own out of lots of interesting people solves many perceived problems that come with growing up gifted.

    This getting out and meeting with other people serves another purpose. Be the Boss by 12 as a program emphasizes the life-long need for gifted people to network. You have to learn how to connect with big decision makers in order for you to make a good living with your gifts and talents. People don't just come flocking to you as if you have some international reputation for being gifted and talented. Nope. You have to make that noise yourself.

    So if you build good networking skills with the people you're most comfortable with, those habits will also work well for you when it comes time to make money with your gifts. Doesn't matter if it's arts or STEM, you have to be able to walk up to decision makers, shake their hand, tell them who you are, and why they should get to know you better.

    After all, you are worth getting to know better, aren't you?

    Order and Download Building Habits to Win Now

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G060619 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The 2 Worlds of the Genius

    You know, since I grew up before “giftedness” was invented, I personally view the phrase “gifted and talented” as a brand used to sell tests to parents and sell “gifted” educational programs to school systems. When I was growing up, we didn't need tests and programs. We did, however, live in two worlds. In one world, we “played the game” of being high-performance students within the confines of the standard school system curriculum. In the other world, we jury-rigged our own ways of building up our skills. It's in this other world where we worked hardest! Some parents could afford a little more outside support than others. Some of us found odd jobs, even at very young ages, to fund our extra-curricular activities.

    Throughout History,
    These Have Been
    the Two Worlds of the Genius!

    Color Black and White

    In one world, the development of extreme gifts and talents is usually best facilitated by a combination of individual hard work guided by a knowledgeable mentor. Be the Boss by 12 shows the gifted kid how to bring their awesome results back into the other world. (photo - benjamin-davies - unsplash)

    Good institutional support for the ambitions of gifted kids, especially for kids who have issues with the lack of challenge, is no doubt a great thing. However, the gifted parenting groups on Facebook suggest that such support is uncommon to start with, and if it exists is gated through a testing system that may not be calibrated to a wide range of children.

    Maybe, as was the case for us small town farm kids in 20th Century Michigan, institutional solutions for the education of gifted kids still aren't necessary! If we would have had the web in the 1960s, for example, we would have gone bonkers on the new freedom to explore our interests on our own. So let's look at a few issues that exist now that didn't exist then and see if putting together a DIY (“do it yourself,” just in case...) program for gifted education makes sense.

    Let's look at a frequently posted issue: boredom and under-challenging classroom experiences. When I think of my gang back in junior high, I see a bunch of focused and motivated young people. We each connected with a topic (in some cases, topics) for which we had both the skills and the passions to pursue with great results.

    In my younger, grade school days, I also took it upon myself to ask the teacher if I could do other things when I got done with assigned work. In my case, I got science books from the school library, and then I drew hundreds of pictures (poorly, I have to say) from the books I was reading. In both grade school and junior high, I had interests that could absorb my attention once the assigned work was completed.

    Online resources today make this a lot easier, as long as the gifted kid doesn't disrupt the classroom working the web.

    Another issue that could have practical consequences: Testing for giftedness and participating in gifted and talented programs might yield competitive advantages when it comes to getting into desired colleges. There are a couple of ways to look at this, the current scandal on big-money admissions cheating aside.

    First, at the undergraduate level the actual curriculum is pretty standardized. Any good state university will deliver a useful educational environment. Strictly viewed from the standpoint of undergraduate education, a gifted kid can do well in any good school.

    Second (Part A), if there are advantages to getting into some schools, it's in the huge, well-connected network of alumni. So, one could plan ahead and get into an Ivy League school to connect with American social power.

    Second (Part B), one could also choose to get into a college to network with the scholars involved in your field of interest at the earliest possible point in life. Like many things in life, the earlier you can become active in a community of interest to you, the faster you can grow into a recognized member of that community.

    Third, let's assume that the gifted kid in question really made huge strides in their DIY educational program. They may have generated sophisticated intellectual properties (writings, music, art, inventions) that show real distinction when compared to those who went the institutional testing route. This shows the admissions department an active life of high accomplish, making this kid a very attractive student.

    Now, it should be said that this level of accomplishment will require discipline and strong work habits to achieve. We have an introduction to this topic, Building Habits to Win. As a kid grows up they get habits from their instincts, their family, and their school life. Even if all of these habits were good (and they're not), a fair number of them will hinder the focus required to undertake a DIY learning program. This ebook helps kids sort through their habits, and to pick out and build up the ones that will help them succeed.

    Order and Download Building Habits to Win Now

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G052719 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    4 Factors for Restoring FAIRNESS

    Another big, whole-life issue came up in a recent Facebook parenting group this week: FAIRNESS! It's an even bigger issue when you put Be the Boss by 12 into the picture: How does a future leader create fairness in all of the gray areas that leaders often encounter?

    Fairness Poster

    Fairness is fairly easy to obtain if everyone agrees on the same standards of fairness. Since that rarely happens, wise leaders have to figure out how to make their difficult judgments acceptable to the people or groups in conflict. (photo - jon-tyson - unsplash)

    Our ebook series Be the Boss by 12 is a comprehensive guide for making habits work for us instead of against us. That includes making the habits of others work for us, too. So, let's take an extreme, yet common case, where one person's habits of fairness are “rules-based,” and the other person's habits of fairness are “self-centered.”

    We can imagine that we're in 6th grade, a bunch of us are playing some kind of game, and there's a tough guy or bully who thinks that winning by cheating is still a real win. Since the cheating started, pretty much everyone else is having a hard time having fun. What should happen next?

    Let's start out by looking at the things that could happen:

    • The bully could continue cheating, and everyone else could continue to have a bad time.
    • The bully could leave the game, and everyone else could have a good time.
    • The bully could stop cheating, play fair, and then everyone has a good time together.

    OK, that covers what the bully might do. What might the rest of the players do?

    • The rest of the kids could just put up with the cheating, even though they're not having fun.
    • The rest of the kids could find a way to force the bully to play by the rules.
    • The rest of the kids could find a way to force the bully to leave the game.
    • The rest of the kids could leave the game and find something else to do, preferably that would exclude the bully.

    All right, those are all the things that could happen in this situation. Let's now suppose that one of the kids see how to take the leader's role in this situation and “fix it” in some sense. What else would this person have to keep in mind while dealing with the bully?

    • Regardless of what happens, we need to keep everyone safe.
    • If we can bring fun back into the situation, that would be great.
    • If we can teach everyone a bit more about playing and working together so that everyone benefits, that would be great, too.
    • If we can't fix the situation, then we have to find a safe way to stop what's happening and let everyone leave.

    Those three groups of ideas are what you as the young leader use to set up the way you will bargain with the bully to restore fairness. Bargaining, or negotiating, is your fourth factor. If you think it's safe enough, you could start the bargaining with a statement like, “Look, your cheating is wrecking the game. If you play by the rules we can all have some fun. If you won't, then we're all just leaving the game to do something else.” That's not likely going to be the end of the bargaining; it's just a starting suggestion.

    At this point some would say, “Hey, Dr. Meylan, what about being brave enough to step up to the bully? Wouldn't that be a fifth factor, you've got to be brave enough to take the lead?” You know, I wouldn't mind if you added that to the factors. I was just assuming that, regardless of how scared you felt, you made the decision to try to fix the situation. Once you made the decision, here are the things to think about that might help you succeed.

    But in addition to creating fairness for others, there are all kinds of reasons a gifted kid should really consider learning how to lead. For example, you might need to know how to create fairness for yourself. There might be a job or other opportunity in your future that you will want. If you don't know how to deal with other decision makers, you might get a bad deal taking that job.

    To help you think through some of the benefits of being able to take charge of your own life, we have the ebook Be the Boss by 12: Time to Be the Boss. Who knows how much better you can make your own life, the lives of others, or maybe even a sizable part of the world. But you have to make a decision to “Be the Boss.”

    Order and Download Time to Be the Boss Now

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G052519 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The 3 Parts of a
    Life-improving Rule

    I'm writing this blog assuming that you, the reader, are a bright person around 10 to 12 years old. If you're older than that, this will all work for you just as well. Here's the issue. Regardless of how you are being raised, you already live by a large number of habits. You probably don't know that they're habits. You probably think that the whole world just operates the way you do.

    Helping Hand

    In my case, I needed to invent and learn the life-improving rule that it is OK to ask for help or for things to help me succeed. (photo - noah-buscher - unsplash)

    Well, as old as I am now, in just these last few years I've learned that there are a lot of childhood habits that I should have stopped using once I got to be 12 or 13 years old. You might have some of these, too, and now you're getting close to the age when you will want to figure out different ways for your growing-up self to do things.

    There are a lot of ways to make these kinds of changes, but none of them happens by itself. You have to decide what you need to do differently. In my case, one of my habits was not to ask anyone for anything. I was taught that asking for things was rude. I could accept something that was offered, like a second cookie off a tray, but I couldn't ask for it.

    But as a grown up, you have to ask for things from people to help you succeed. There are rude ways to ask and there are polite ways to ask. Sometimes you have to do more than ask: You have to persuade and convince someone, sometimes, to get something important.

    Suppose you're a great musician and you want to put on a concert in the school gym or auditorium. Well, you can't wait around for the principal or the band teacher to offer you the use of the gym. You have to go ask if you can use it.

    And once you've grown up and you're becoming a famous musician, you have to be able to ask for the right pay to play or record, or compose for a movie soundtrack. If you can't ask for the right things, you may remain unknown and poor.

    So, let's say we need to stop being shy about asking for good things that we really need to build on our gift or talent. Our habit is that we believe we shouldn't ask for things, and we need to change that belief into that we have to ask for things to make our success possible. There's no other way to be successful. We can't wait around for people guess that we're good at music, or that we need some help to become better known as a player. We have to be able to speak for ourselves with anyone who can help us.

    Well, it's very hard to change habits, especially the ones we learn from our parents. So, we need to make up little rules for ourselves that help to remind us how we need to change a habit. For Be the Boss by 12, I invented a special kind of rule to help. Here are the 3 parts:

    • There's a sentence, or at most, a short paragraph, that describes the new thing that you want to make a habit in your life.
      • Then there's a short description of how much better life is if you learn to do this habit all the time.
      • Well, then, there's a description of how life will go if you don't add this habit to your life.

    To help us feel comfortable about asking for things, we could write this rule out in the following way:

    • It is vital to my success as a gifted adult that I learn now to ask for the things and the help I need.
      • If I learn now to ask for help to become a success with my gifts, I will speed up my ability to live a successful and happy life.
      • If I don't learn to ask for help when I need it, I will have to wait for someone to notice that I have something to offer, which leaves me with no control over my future.

    We use this three part rule to remind us of what we want to change in our lives, and what the consequences are if we make the change or don't. This kind of rule helps us practice the new habit that we want to create, and reminds us of the reasons we really need to learn the new habit.

    We describe these kinds of rules, and a few other important helps in Be the Boss by 12: Build Your Own System of Rules. You can build your own system of self-empowerment, custom fit to you, by mapping out changes you need to make, and training yourself to make them.

    Order and Download Build Your Own System of Rules Now

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G051419 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.


    One of the tougher aspects of parenting is the management of priorities given the limitations of a 24-hour day. Even when you want to just drop everything to take on a teachable moment you don't always have the time. And until you “clock-train” your kid, even a bright child doesn't understand the time constraints you bear.

    Question Mark

    As much as possible, treat your child's question as if coming from one of your peers. Ask back, “Do you really want to know?” If the child says, “Yes,” use the time available then to open up the topic, with the promise to take up the topic as soon as you can later to finish the answering process. (photo - emily-morter - unsplash)

    The mission of the Be the Boss by 12 series is to give gifted kids the tools to be successful adults. We think we share that mission with parents. The pattern of adult interaction that kids take from their families will be the basis of the way kids will interact with grownups when they're big. They get more practice dealing with grownups when parents treat their kids “peer-to-peer” as much as possible.

    If the only practice a kid gets in dealing with adults is dealing with them “as parents,” then they'll likely continue to see grownups as parent figures, even when everyone in the room is the same, grownup age as they are. I'm not a big fan of transactional analysis (TA), and it's pretty old fashioned by today's standards. Yet, on this point TA might have it correct: If you think everyone has parent status, then you will always interact with adults as if you're the kid.

    Realistically it's impossible all of the time, but whenever possible, treat all of your children's questions as if the questions are coming from a grownup person. Sometimes it's impossible because of time constraints, sometimes because the kid is just pushing your buttons. But a lot of the time it's hard because your kid has just put you on the spot. That's really uncomfortable.

    I mean, let's be honest here. A really gifted kid might not have your years of experience, but they're probably making up for that gap with their gifts, talents, and the work they've already put in to achieve big results. And it's also very clear that advanced education or exceptional training isn't always enough when engaging a gifted child. So if you don't have answers at the ready, what can you do?

    What I have observed in a few households is that, somehow, the parents have built a family culture of learning. These families probably all did it somewhat differently. But when such a family pops up, the interactions between parents and children are a wonder to watch.

    One feature that was often part of these families' lives was dinner time conversation that focused on grownup issues. Might have been the politics of the day. Maybe they discussed the environment. In some families the kids and parents really had related interests, such as when the parents had STEM careers, and the kids were conversing about the days their parents had at work. I have heard that the families with political dynasties (eg., Kennedy's, Bush's and Gore's) carried on such dinner-time conversations. With practice your family probably could, too.

    Something else you might try. Depending on how important the question is to your child, you both could do some web work together to dig things out. One of the big helps you can provide here is to teach your child how to evaluate if a piece of web content has its facts straight or not. And if you don't know how to do that, here's your big opportunity to learn with your kid!

    While web surfing is one way to find things out, you can expand the kinds of sources your children use to find things out. There are still newspapers, books, news magazines and other “older” forms of media that you and your kids can use.

    And on top of all that, you don't have to wait for your kids to ask you questions. Maybe you're curious about something, and your questions might make a good topic for you all to study. It could happen!

    So here's the bottom line. Your whole family grows together as a learning community as adults! And it's the “as adults!” part that's so important for all of your children's successes, not just your gifted ones. The most important “survival skill” for kids to operate effectively in a grown up world is to know how to operate as a grownup themselves.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G050819 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    How to Think about the Future

    Does anybody ever ask you what you want to be when you grow up? For gifted kids it's a tough question for a couple different reasons. Most of us think about the future quite a lot, but we don't have enough experience in life to put a good answer together. At least, not an answer that we might want to live with.

    Girl with Map

    We don't have to plan our whole future right now. The next little trip, adventure, or project is good enough for now. (photo - elio-santos - unsplash)

    One of my professional claims to fame has to do with teaching older people how to get ready for the future. In these people's cases, they have to make decisions on how to plan something, usually something big. But no one can possibly know the future, so grownups are often afraid of guessing wrong. If they guess wrong about the future, then their plans might not work so well.

    I know that a lot of gifted kids start thinking about the future, for real, at a very early age. And we all have our different responses to what we imagine about our futures. Most of us are optimistic about our futures, even though we don't actually see all of the footsteps it will take to get there. Some of us get a little wigged out exactly because we don't see all of the footsteps from now to then. Well, since we all need the steps anyway, let's look at some of the steps I recommend to grown up people.

    The first thing to do is to mostly forget about The Big Future as if you can actually do anything about something that big. What you do instead is you look at what you can call the immediate future, that is, new things that you can start doing now. Since we're gifted kids, we could look at the immediate future as a stretch of time when we will accomplish something new with our gifts or talents.

    All right, so, if we're really going to push ourselves hard to turn our great gifts into even stronger talents, we want to push hard enough to grow, but not so hard that we discourage ourselves. What are the steps?

    With grown ups, I teach them steps from science. They don't usually know much science. Some of you reading this are artistic performers and creators, and some of you are STEM people. The thing about science is that it's about asking questions and learning from answers. Scientists attempt to turn their questions into experiences. Either they build some kind of experiment, or they go out into the real world and make careful observations. It turns out that the great artists and musicians of the world do exactly the same thing. You can make these your habits, too. So here we go!

    How to Build a Growth Experience

    • If you are currently hitting a wall or barrier on something you want to accomplish, or if there's something new you'd like to try to see if you can get good at it, make a list of the things that you do understand about the topic or skill.
    • Describe in some detail what you actually want to be able to do that's different from what you can do now.
    • Use what you currently know to write out some instructions to create an experience that takes you at least a little way from what you currently know, or can do, to what you want to learn.
    • Repeat these steps as often as necessary to achieve what you want. Big success is achieved through small steps of learning.

    Some might say, “That doesn't sound like a way to think about the future.” OK, well, actually, it's not. It is, instead, a way you can create a small piece of your future. If you follow those steps, you've done the following things to create a more talented you:

    • You took your current level of knowledge...
    • You visualized an improved “you”...
    • You built a special experience designed to help you grow in a direction of your choice...
    • ...and you kept improving your learning experience until you accomplished your goal.

    You'd be surprised how many grownups just can't accept that simple set of steps. Some think it's too simple. Some think it's too hard. But mostly, grownups simply do not want to change anything about themselves. Gifted kids, by contrast, almost all want to get better and better at what they do.

    There are many people who believe that the best way to prepare for the future is to create the future. I've just given you one way to do it. If you can learn how to build a new, future you whenever you want, you'll usually be ready for whatever comes next in life.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G042919 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Managing the Power of Mistakes

    Mistakes! Everybody makes them. I suppose everybody hates them, but you can't tell by the way some people operate. They keep doing the same, dumb stuff all through their lives. But, as gifted and talented people, here's how we're going to look at the power of mistakes in our lives:

    • Mistakes often exert a power on the way we feel, our feelings, i.e., our emotions.
    • We can empower ourselves by converting mistakes into quick, important lessons.
    Dropped Cone

    We can learn to live with the disappointments of our mistakes while at the same time use our mistakes to speed up our learning about anything in life. (photo - pawel-janiak - unsplash)

    Much sooner than most people, gifted kids come to understand the meaning of a mistake or a failure as they try to do things that interest them. That's part of what makes us gifted people gifted. However, it's also often the case that we are so young when we first perceive our mistakes that we are also too young to know how to manage the feelings that a mistake gives us. We feel frustrated, and maybe we feel angry, and sometimes those feelings are just as new as the mistake we just made. So for lack of experience in handling our feeelings, we let them move us into behaving in ways that are very distracting to us and the people around us.

    But we don't want anything having that kind of power over us, do we? So, we each have to find our own set of tricks that deal with the feelings we get from mistakes. We find the tricks that free us to fix mistakes. We also need to find the tricks that help us avoid mistakes in the future. And this is all very personal. Some people can just put those nasty feelings “on the shelf”, so to speak, and continue to work on the problem that caused the mistake. Some people eventually learn how to weaken the feelings by not spending any time paying attention to the feelings. Over time this approach can even keep the feelings from getting started.

    Those, then, are just a few, starter ideas for reducing the power that our mistakes have over our feelings. And you know, that's pretty good stuff. It'll be better stuff once you get some practice on finding your own way of dealing with the feelings that your mistakes give you. But there's more, and I think it's even better stuff.

    You see, my friends at NASA and I made our fair share of mistakes while doing science. But, we learned directly from those mistakes. In fact, as you study to become an astrophysicist, you see that you can't do science without making mistakes. When you do science, you are usually doing things that no one else in human history has ever done before, and that means no one actually knows what the right answer is, or what the right thing to do next is. You become a better scientist through an organized process of trial and error. That's all you have.

    The same thing is true for all of my monster musician friends. They make mistakes all of the time as they learn more about music, and about playing instruments. Now, this also demonstrates the level of determination it takes to be world class: It's nothing for a gifted and talented musician to spend the whole next day practicing the technique to overcome one, single performance mistake. What might have started out as a feeling of frustration for a musician making a mistake turns into a feeling of unyielding determination to achieve perfection, or as close to it as possible. The feelings change and become more motivational with time and with the building of true expertise.

    This is all very good news for us gifted kids. When we're young, our mistakes often make us feel frustration and anger. But if we learn to keep pushing through our mistakes to grow, eventually our mistakes will trigger determination in us instead of frustration. Once we gain the positive experience of fixing our mistakes, and learning how to avoid them, we gain the confidence it takes to put mistakes into their proper roles in our lives...and mistakes truly have a role to play. If everything remains easy, we are only operating on our raw, natural talents. But if we have to struggle to make progress, then our talents have to grow into even stronger skills.

    So, while you're really young, try to change what you think about, and especially how you feel about, the mistake. It's not a brick wall. It is a challenge that you can overcome. Furthermore, never feel as if you have to face a challenge alone. Asking for help is what all of the famous, successful people in human history have done. Finding great helpers and coaches is a sure sign that a person is gifted and talented.

    So, maybe for you, this is one of the tricks: You know that you can overcome a challenge. And so, there's not much that feels better than overcoming a big challenge. It is OK for you to believe in your success to the point that you start to feel good about your future success. The trick is to keep working and practicing until you beat the challenge.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G041719 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    “Spotting” Patterns
    Organizing Your Experience

    I recently blogged about attention patterns. I called these the naturally pre-wired focuses you have to spot opportunities or troubles very quickly so you have more time to respond to what's going on around you. But, you know, these attention patterns are probably connected to a broader capability usually called pattern recognition.

    Cypress Leaves

    Pattern recognition often gives us clues to guide our work as we try to understand our gifts and improve our approaches to creativity. (photo - t.meylan - digitalclones)

    In simple terms, we recognize patterns in space, and we recognize patterns in time. In space, some artists might use patterns they spot in nature to reduce an unnatural “feeling” in their visual work. In time, a musician might hear rhythmic patterns from one culture, and figure out a way to apply them to their own musical efforts. Often these two pattern types combine, like if a dancer spots trees swaying in the wind; that might suggest some new moves.

    STEM people make use of patterns, too. I can't speak much about the “TEM” part, but the history of the physical Sciences is full of the use of patterns to kick off a line of research. Sometimes the patterns led to great meaning, and sometimes the patterns were meaningless. The point is that the pattern suggested a line of questioning that was worth following.

    In the context of Be the Boss by 12, we spend a lot of time encouraging you to keep your eyes open and watch for what, guys? In order to understand people, we have to watch them for their habits. Habits are behavioral patterns, that is, the things they do over and over again.

    We can ask “time and space” questions about habits, too. In time, is a habit daily, weekly, or whatever? In space, we can ask if a set of special conditions pushes a habit into action. If we look carefully at these time and space questions, we might be able to figure out why a person has a certain habit. We can start to figure out reasons why some people do what they do.

    But we can't rely on a pattern all by itself if we want to answer heavy-duty questions like “why” questions. We can start there, but we have to test the pattern itself to see if it is really going to help us understand something, or if it's going to send us on a while goose chase. After all, for example, just because a pattern motivates someone to do great work doesn't mean it would motivate anyone else. It's nice when one size fits all, but it's not often the case.

    We all experience many patterns on any given day. Some of them trigger our pre-wired attention patterns, and we respond accordingly. But many other patterns don't trigger a response, yet somehow they capture our attention. Even when our brains can't figure out their significances, we still spot them and stop for a moment. In those few seconds, we make a decision to investigate the pattern or move on.

    As a fellow gifted kid, I'd suggest giving patterns a few more seconds of consideration before making that decision. Something big could be there.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G041019 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Build a Team,
    Learn Big Social Skills

    There are some social stereotypes often attributed to gifted and talented people of all ages. Here are some of the common ones:

    • Gifted people are often too shy to join in a group.
    • Gifted people are too consumed by their interests to break away for social interaction.
    • Gifted people often think too highly of themselves to waste their time on inferior people.
    • Gifted people are on a disorder spectrum of some kind.
    Kids Team

    You can form any kind of group, team, or club that you want; this is a high-value skill. It can be just for fun, or it can be your first business to sell the things you make or do. (photo - duy-pham - unsplash)

    My personal experience indicates that these sterotypes are greatly over-applied. Shyness, for example, is extremely common in all times and places in human history. Then, while gifted people can concentrate on big challenges for extended periods of time, they have a need to “decompress” after hard work just like everybody else. Again, from my experience, there are arrogant gifted people, but in truth, arrogance seems to increase with decreasing capability. As to a disorder spectrum, I just don't know how to respond to that.

    The point is that gifted preferences for group activities aren't different enough to bother with. What is important enough to bother with is the ability to form and enrich a group. This is a highly valuable skill that you can apply to any aspect of your life. This is particularly important as a means to extend your gifts and talents into the real world. If you build up a group of people who are devoted, dedicated, and capable of supporting large-scale efforts based on your skills, you will go places.

    Building a group that's just for fun might be a good way for you to experiment to find your special group-building skills. All you need to do is to bring together people with an interest in doing the same thing for fun. Maybe play games. Maybe work a hobby together. It doesn't matter as long as the group has fun.

    The great thing about a simple group like this is that it teaches you about the different things that help a group enjoy the time together. The right snacks, drinks, music, even the right kind of room. And if you don't have a natural gift for making things fun, be sure to include fun-makers in the group, and watch how they operate. You're gifted enough to learn.

    The leader of a social group like this is called the host. The host doesn't have to be the life of the party; the host just needs to learn how to put the right people into the right setting so that everyone enjoys themselves in their own way. The host, as the leader, sets up the situation, and the situation provides the guests all the clues and tools to find a good time.

    The leader of a working group does things that are kind of similar, but the situation is set up with different clues and tools. My favorite illustration for this focuses on musicians, but any kind of artist or STEM person can use this pattern. If you're musical, you can wait to be discovered while you practice away in your room, or you can produce your own concerts. Producing concerts (or art shows, or hackathons) will be easier if you form a group to help you. Who do you need in your group?

    • Other musicians
    • Someone, or a small team, to get the auditorium, stage, or gym, and run the sound and lights for the show; make sure proper security people are in place
    • Someone to make and put up the posters (and take them down - don't leave trash with your name on it laying around the town)
    • Someone to sell and take the tickets, including someone trustworthy to handle the money
    • Ushers and other people to help the crowd find their places, and help keep order
    • Someone to set up and sell the refreshments
    • Someone to set up and sell the merch (which kind of suggests...)
    • Someone to create the merch

    Sure, that's a lot to organize. I'm not saying you just throw this stuff together. But gifted and talented people can figure out smart ways of getting a team like this to work, and still have fun doing it.

    But, the point of this blog is that figuring out how to make groups work is something you should learn how to do as early as possible. If you're in 6th or 7th grade now and you produce two or three shows a year from now until you graduate from high school, you'll probably be really good at putting successful groups together, as long as you and your groups learn quickly from your mistakes.

    And here's a freebie clue: You will have to teach your team members that they have to follow through on their assignments and promises to achieve success. Keep a kind eye on their progresss, and nudge the member along. OK, and here's a second freebie clue: If someone isn't getting stuff done, you have to ask them to leave the group, and you have to find someone else who can actually get the job done.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G040419 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    A Key Identity Element for Self-empowerment

    If you start out in kindergarten as the biggest kid in class, and you stay one of the biggest kids in class for the next 12 years, you're going to get 12 years of unconscious, but persistent, social stroking that “you are the boss.” It's just the way big mammal species usually work.


    Identity elements empower and dis-empower people. Building and nurturing a self-image of “being in charge” is a critical success factor for any individual, gifted or not. (photo - raphaela-vergud - unsplash)

    If you're a gifted kid, you get a different kind of long-term, social stroking. You get positive feedback for your great talents for 12 years instead. Well, unless you get push-back from family members or bullies at school. One of my best friends in grad school was told by her father that she was still just a silly, little girl the day she showed him her diploma for her Ph.D. in astrophysics. She didn't read “silly, little girl” as a term of endearment in that specific context.

    So, if you're small, or have a disempowering family, what can you do to become a self-empowered gifted kid? Well, we wrote a whole series of ebooks describing how to use the skills that come directly from your gifts to do that, Be the Boss by 12. And the first thing that we strongly recommend for you to do is to make a big decision and a big commitment to one idea. You have to decide to see yourself as a good boss, and you have to operate in school and in the family in a way that helps other people succeed. That's the big mark of a Good Boss, or a Great Leader.

    But you've got to stay committed to building that new belief about yourself. You will figure out a way to believe in yourself as The Boss, and you will figure out a way to make people see you as The Boss, and have confidence in you as The Boss. And why will they have that confidence? Because in little ways and big ways, you help everyone succeed a little bit better than they would have without your help.

    In practice, how might you think of this in your everyday life? Well, depending on your age, you probably already think of yourself in terms of your gifts and talents. “I'm a great guitar player.” “I love astronomy.” “I can't stop drawing everything I see.”

    Let's just add something very simple to each of those sentences: “I'm a great guitar player, and I'm The Boss of my life.” “I love astronomy, and I'm The Boss of my life.” “I can't stop drawing everything I see, and I'm The Boss of my life.” We talk more about these ideas in this video.

    That's the way I'd like you to pair together these two important pieces of your life. What ever it is that drives you to push hard to learn or understand something, you can always add the phrase, “and I'm The Boss of my life.” Just don't say that kind of stuff out loud where anyone can hear you. It's just your message to you alone.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G032819 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Use Attention Patterns from Gifts to Learn about People

    Gifted kids have a few ready-made attention patterns that serve the growth of their gifts. The budding musician hears something and wants to learn how to make the same sound or music. The pre-school astronomer notices that the shape and size of the moon change with time. The future naturalist notices smells that come and go during a walk through the woods with a parent. These sensations trigger a cascade of pattern-matching algorithms and memory linkages that help the gifted kid build their growing knowledge base.


    The observational skills that a gifted child uses to build knowledge about their interests can also be applied to learning how people around them operate. (photo - japheth-mast - unsplash)

    We can extend this aspect of the gifted and talented experience into other areas of everyday experience. We took a look at attention patterns in a general way last week. Let's look at these in a slightly different way this week.

    One of the reasons we have any attention patterns at all is to save any time we can to understand what might be a dangerous situation. Maybe we see and hear some big changes around us all happening at the same time. Could be that we see lightning and hear thunder. Could be that we see flashing, moving lights and hear sirens. Either one of these could tell us that we need to leave where we are and get somewhere else really fast.

    But the other thing that happens when an attention pattern kicks in is that it pretty much eliminates our ability to pay attention to anything else for a short time. The attention pattern captures our attention to the exclusion of anything else that might be happening.

    So, let's relate this back to those special attention patterns that help gifted kids be gifted. A gifted kid can clamp down on something that's got their attention, and you just try to get their attention back on the rest of the world. They can really concentrate on stuff while in that mode.

    What if we could convert one or two of these powerful attention patterns onto parts of a gifted kid's world that is vitally important to their success, but is also currently of no interest to the kid whatsoever? This would be to apply an attention pattern to the people around them and the way they behave. Why would we want to do this? Because in the future everyone, included gifted people, have to deal with all kinds of decision makers. If you learn how to read people at a young age, it's a skill that pays off huge dividends when building a secure and happy future. View an introductory video on this topic.

    How might a parent go about this? Start at home; just be careful what you ask: “Last night, at the dinner table, what did you think was happening when...?” A typical answer might be, “I didn't notice anything.” There are two ways to work with this answer. One is to remind your child about a specific part of the table conversation of the previous evening, and listen to that response. Another is to simply suggest that in the next day or two you're going to ask the kid about an evening meal time again.

    Over time you can broaden this line of questioning to any place where people watching occurs. Could be a large family gathering. Could be watching people at a park or a mall (if you still have one in your area). Your job in any of these situations will be to draw out not only the raw observations of what your kid sees or hears, but what they think these things might reveal about the people doing them, or saying them.

    Ask your child about the habits, or patterns, or anything that seems to repeat during these people-watching sessions. And then, get to the point where you can ask, “If you had to deal with this person on something important, how would you go about that given how you see them operate?” Ultimately, this is the skill all of us, including gifted people, should be able to use.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G032019 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    How it works — Prepare a Genius for Adult Life

    Boss by 12 Cover

    The gifts will mostly take care of themselves.


    Build emotional toughness
    into the child's inner dialog.


    Teach the child to project
    the social cues of "The Boss."

    Be the Boss by 12, Volume Zero: Parents' Prep
    Available Now!