Brilliance is an elusive concept. It’s a concept applied to many objects related to light, but when applied to human beings, it generally refers to an exceptional talent or intelligence.
What’s interesting about the word brilliance and its relationship to human beings is the belief that some people have it, and some people don’t. A study published by a group of US scientists in the journal Science drew out some interesting findings, in particular the difference in attitudes towards brilliance between boys and girls.
The study showed that, as early as six years old, girls attributed their academic success more to hard work and less to innate abilities, believing that boys are inherently smarter than girls. While academic results demonstrate categorically that this is not true, something in the educational system implants the belief in girls to attribute their success less to intelligence and more to hard work.
Why the educational system? Well, it’s interesting that at the age of five, girls and boys are pretty much equal in terms of their views on innate intelligence versus hard work, and it’s at the age of five that boys and girls in the US, where the study was conducted, enter school. The situation changes significantly by the age of six, with girls eschewing skills deemed appropriate for “intelligent” people and identifying intelligence more with males than females.
The real issue is that this bias negatively impacts both boys and girls. Girls are given the false impression about their lack of intelligence in relation to boys, and this dents their confidence, which, in turn, prevents them from stretching themselves academically with subjects like science and maths. Boys, on the other hand, falsely believe that intelligence will see them through life, so it comes as a bit of a shock when they learn that success rarely comes without hard work. Secondary school results are a key indicator of the impact it has on boys’ educational accomplishments.
It’s of vital importance that educators tackle this situation now to ensure equal opportunity in the future. We need to understand the source of the bias so we can transform it going forward.
How do you correct the damage that’s already been done? Perhaps you are one of those people who have been affected by this gender bias, and it’s having a negative impact on your career.
It’s not likely to happen overnight. However, you can definitely begin the process by being in the inquiry. Here are the five steps, which I call the AEIOU Process, to help you reclaim your brilliance.
When you reach this point, what are you left with? A blank canvas! An open space on which you can create whatever you want. So, how do you want to approach your career? Do you want to keep working hard? Do you want to keep living under the delusion that the world owes you something? Or do you want to live a life that fills you up?
It's your choice. As your coach, I suggest you consider your future. How do you want your career to look? What kind of thinking will help you get there? Choose beliefs and attitudes that support you to fulfil your goals in a healthy way. Remember, your career is only one facet of a multi-faceted life. You want to ensure that your belief choices work for you, your career, your family, your colleagues, your health, your pleasure -- your entire life, basically. Pie-in-the-sky beliefs set you up for further failure. You don't want that.
I want to leave you with a word about brilliance. Everyone is imbued with brilliance. It can feel like a monumental task trying to draw this brilliance out of yourself, especially if it has been diminished by limited thinking like bias. Would it be satisfying if everything was easy, though? Probably not!
It is your job to own your own brilliance. Imagine what your life could be if you approach it as an adventure in discovering who you really are, without all the fluff you've gathered over the years. It sounds like a lot of fun to me!
Believe me. There is gold inside you, waiting to be discovered. It's your job to mine it and fashion into a life worth living.
And here’s the truth (in an age of post-Truth): brilliance knows no bias.