The Gift of Being Uncommon

Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon

From the Foreword by Linda Silverman to the book Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon: Extra Intelligent, Intense, and Effective by Willem Kuipers. Dr. Silverman writes:

The vast majority of gifted adults are never identified.

Even those who were tested as children and placed in gifted programs often believe that their giftedness disappeared by the time they reached adulthood.

It does not seem to matter how much success a person achieves—hardly anyone is comfortable saying, “I’m gifted.”

That is why this book, Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon, is such a major breakthrough.

Willem Kuipers bypasses the problem by coining a much more palatable term: eXtra intelligent (Xi).

And, if someone has a knee-jerk reaction to that idea, Xi can also stand for eXtra intense.

More people are aware of and admit to their intensity than to their uncommon intelligence.

Parents note the intensity of their young child before they realize that their child is developing at a faster rate.

High intensity is a close cousin to high intelligence.

Kuipers gently guides the reader and his clients through a process of self-recognition. He and his partner, Annelien van Kempen, have offered career counseling and identity development for eXtra intelligent adults for ten years.

They know how painful it can be to feel so different from others and not understand why. They help their clients transform disconcerting qualities into positive resources that can be assets in the work world.

Enjoying the Gift of Being UncommonEnjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon describes three “Practices”: acknowledging Xi, exploring Xi and applying Xi.

The first step, acknowledging Xi, can be the most difficult.

It requires a total re-definition of the Self. The process is facilitated when others recognize and support a person’s uncommon intelligence.

There are five defining characteristics of eXtra intelligent/eXtra intense people (XIPs):

* Intellectually able
* Incurably inquisitive
* Needs autonomy
* Excessive zeal in pursuit of interests
* Contrast between emotional and intellectual self-confidence

It is not necessary for someone to identify with all five. Those who recognize themselves in at least three of the character traits may consider themselves XIPs. Self-recognition of one’s uncommon constellation of abilities and personality traits is a powerful tool for self-development.

It is transformative to discover that there are others who share the same characteristics, and that these are positive, rather than negative. Recognizing these traits in others and discussing Xi with them can be life-changing.

This expanded view of giftedness demonstrates the vast diversity of the population of XIPs. There are numerous ways of being intellectually able and an infinite number of pursuits that can captivate one’s zeal. Therefore, no two XIPs are alike.

However, they do share some basic characteristics, such as intensity, complexity, curiosity, drive and the need for autonomy.

When these traits are mobilized, XIPs lead happy, productive lives, enhance corporate effectiveness, and may even change the world through their innovations. However, when these same traits are repressed, everyone suffers.

One of my favorite sections is the table of common reproaches that XIPs hear, and the delightful reframing of these as assets. For example, the criticism, “Can’t you just keep one career direction?” can be translated into the unseen special asset of the “Ability to transcend borders among various disciplines.”

Kuipers provides tips for corporations to effectively manage their most talented employees.

He suggests that it can be very profitable for organizations to stimulate interaction between their XIPs, even when they do not work in the same department. “They will inspire and support each other to do their own job better…”

There is an extremely interesting discussion of “gift reciprocity versus market economy,” based on the book, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, by Lewis Hyde.

XIPs may have difficulty charging sufficiently for their work, especially if they view their own abilities, products or insights as gifts that need to be shared with others.

Society appears to be based on a market economy set up for the trading of commodities. Commodities are possessions. “In a gift society the highest esteem is for the person who gives the most. In a market economy, the highest esteem is for the person who takes the most.”

This situation poses serious ethical and economic dilemmas for most gifted adults.

Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon is an important work that should be read by all who have ever wondered if they might be uncommonly intelligent, by all who live with and work with XIPs, by all parents of gifted children, by all corporations seeking to attract and keep highly competent employees, by all those who feel out-of-sync with society, and by all those who seek guidance in actualizing their potential.

This book provides a blueprint for appreciating and mobilizing one’s gifts to accomplish one’s goals.

Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D.
Director, Gifted Development Center, Denver, Colorado, USA

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Book: Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon: Extra Intelligent, Intense, and Effective.

More details about the book are on the Netherlands site of the author: Kuipers & van Kempen.

Linda Silverman is author of multiple books including Counseling the Gifted and Talented.

Also see my related site Highly Sensitive for more material related to intensity.

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Originally posted 2011-01-25 12:47:17.


  1. says

    I read a copy of Silvermans book while on holiday a few weeks ago .I was knocked out by some of the concepts and how they can be applied not only to individuals but also at a more corporate level.Much to think about and get my teeth into . Yours is the first review of her book i have come acrooss and after having read what you think about Silvermans book i have to say you are sopt on with your view .

    Loise in Toronto

  2. says

    I have ordered the book and look forward to the expansion of perspective and application insights. The web site alone has increased awareness. The ability to understand ourselves, overcome the POV that impedes our expressing our extra intelligence connecting with other is critical and this book is a magnificent resource. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Cat Robson says

    I’m looking forward to reading this and learning more about ‘enjoying,’ rather than disparaging, my eXtra-ness. I love the 5 defining characteristics and relate to them all.

    Thanks for bringing this to attention!



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