First… this guy we’re talking about. He is NOT a genius. That was totally the wrong choice of words. He may have a high IQ, he may be considered to be “gifted”, he may pretend to play the part of the disheveled nutty professor… but he’s really just an average guy that likes to tackle hard problems. He often gets out of his depth– in fact he’s not happy unless he *is* out of his depth! But he loves the inherent struggle to get control of such a situation.
I’m not the first person to write about this personality type, but I may be providing some new insight into how this guys brain actually functions– I may be describing how this person thinks… literally from the inside. Some of what I say may be generic to your typically “male” approach to things (ie, “man-cleaning), some may be more applicable to the creative (“right brained”) process in general. In any case, this person tends to make sweeping generalizations for the express purpose of jump starting his analytical juices so he can begin to tackle other aspects of a problem. “Normal” people often get hung up on picking over where the generalization breaks down, and cannot seem to grasp the overall picture he’s sketching out. A good collaborator would instead put in his two cents in by taking part of the idea and running with it, but some people prefer to snipe at him instead of being “a real team player.” (Just kidding… I really would like some hard data on the ADD vs non-ADD, Autism vs non-Autism, male vs female, creative vs non-creative axes… but we have no Jean Piaget to develop and execute the experiments at the moment.)
Another thing he’ll do is take a set of premises and see where they lead regardless of his personal opinions and hunches. He’ll present a perspective as if it were his own so he can stand back and judge how that thread fits into the big picture. Regular people fail to notice the smile in the corner of his lips when he rapidly summarizes a set of talking points as if they were his own– he may actually be lampooning a perspective, but his “method acting” skills are so good people really think he actually holds those obnoxious opinions!
At any rate, most people failed to read between the lines of the last post– mainly because I stopped in the middle and dressed up what I had. (I was thinking… “yeah, you think you can identify with that first post… but there’s *no* way any of you will be able to relate to *this*! Before I go any further, let’s see how this one goes over….”) So… here’s the missing tips completely spelled out for you:
To get the most out of your nutty self-obsessed right-brained wanna-be mega-geek: let him solve problems his own way. Let him develop tools/abstractions that help him hide the sort of details and menial tasks that sap his strength. Force him to get up and go exercise or relax. Don’t hold a nebulous unfinishable to-do list over his head to guilt trip him– he will come down off of his creative high and beat himself up for being irresponsible and may even shut down emotionally. Allow him to relate to people one at a time– a hike with only *one* of the children, dates and activities without a big crowd. Don’t take it personally when he absolutely dreads doing activities you think are “fun”. Occasionally go stand by his desk until he gets that nagging little task done. Tell him things like, “if you don’t get anything else done today, please look into x; it’s really important to me.” Alternately, you can go with something like, “we have a critical secret mission and only someone like you can save us; we will hold down the fort and cover for you, but it is urgent that you work on this today.” And no, he doesn’t need all of a June Cleaver, a secretary, and a personal accountant– he does need someone to play the part of a “coach”, though. And someone that can organize some of the pesky details into something he can act on can be critical to this guy getting anything done. You more than likely have some valid complaints about his performance, but anything that smacks of character assassination will destroy him and cause him to withdraw and shut down. A little bit of sympathy can go a long way with this person– he criticises himself more than anybody else anyway. He is capable of minimizing the negative consequences of his traits, but he cannot accompish anything useful for you if you refuse to give him the slightest feeling of acceptance.
For a lot of people this guy is just not worth the trouble… but again, he can be an amazing part of the right team. Of course, the “right team” can change as he continues to grow in different directions, so be prepared to reassess his role and how he fits into things every six months or so. Having him around means he will solve some things that are important, but that nonetheless fail to show up on anyone else’s radar. He can be surprisingly child-like despite his nuanced positions and “deep” thinking. If you lack the empathy to provide this guy with any sort of “nurture” or encouragement, then he will burn out very rapidly and you will waste whatever you’ve invested in him.
This guy is not a good fit for just any place. In spite of the thinly veiled romanticism in the previous posts, do not fail to account for the warnings I’ve listed! Things can go very very wrong with this guy if you humiliate him to the point where he shuts down. (And yes… this dude needs to wake up and figure how to cope with his own personality if he wants accomplish anything. He is totally driven to help people and do useful original work, though. If he can get ahold of himself and/or get the right kind of support, there’s no telling what he’ll do. [At least, he has to tell that to himself just to keep going.] Beating himself up all the time because he’s not “normal” is a complete waste of his energy, but he needs to pay special attention to when he says yes to anything. If he can’t say “no” or can’t recognize when he’s not a good fit for something, there’s plenty of disappointment for everyone on the way!)
Edit: Getting lots of negative feedback now. I think I’ve pinned down the exact thing of what causes this person to get depressed… and why certain things are so debilitating to him. This is very valuable information for me… and I’m not sure how many counsellors/psychiatrists/whatevers could have helped determine this. And yes, I had to write this, put it on the line, and fool myself into thinking it was relevant in order to see this. (That’s the point of these posts! This is the thinking process in action!) The concepts hang well enough together to be useful to me, but are in a medium where they gain a large audience in spite of their rough form. Oh well. Carry on. Nothing to see here.