Do people with multiple talents realize their abilities as readily and as fully as they want? A high level of achievement and fulfillment is not an automatic outcome for all gifted and talented adults.

In her book Gifted Grownups, Marylou Kelly Streznewski notes, "For too long society has believed that if you aren’t president of General Motors, you aren’t gifted. If the estimates of the researchers are correct, and between 3% and 5% of the population is gifted, then we are talking about several million people."

She added that the many interviews in the book revealed that "a gifted person of multiple talents may not be as fortunate as a multitalented Bill Bradley (Rhodes scholar, basketball star, senator, author).

"He or she may be struggling through a series of false starts into careers and college majors, trying desperately to find the one that clicks."

A therapist and head of a private adult school in Los Angeles, Mary Rocamora has found "Simply knowing one is gifted often opens a floodgate of energy. Clients who came to therapy with established gifted identities were characteristically passionate, intense, and unafraid to unleash the shadow side of their personality."

She has had many years of experience counseling "multi-talented performers, writers, metaphysicians, and people who were clearly gifted in self-transformation. I have worked extensively with two types of gifted clients: those who knew they were gifted and were highly self-actualizing in their field, and those whose giftedness was unrecognized, masked, under-utilized, or thwarted in some way."

One way to learn more about your talents and express your multiple abilities is to find and really engage with your passions.

Chris and Janet Attwood write on their site The Passion Test, "People who are passionate work harder, do better work and more motivated than those who aren't. Needless to say they also enjoy their work more.

"Who do you think has the greatest opportunity to prosper when times are tough?," they add. "The person who hates their work and has to drag themselves to work every day, or the person who loves what they're doing and can hardly wait to get to it?"

Barbara Sher and Margaret Lobenstine write in their articles and books about Scanner personalities and Renaissance Souls, who bring a passionate attention to a variety of interests, simultaneously or serially.

Multitalented doesn't mean you have to do it all at once, all the time. Many people are what these authors describe as people with multifaceted interests, who follow their passions on their own schedules, whether or not they engage in traditional careers.

Encouraging or inhibiting abilities

But there are many factors that can encourage or inhibit the development of talents.

In her article Common Misconceptions About the Gifted, Mary Rocamora notes that the term "gifted" refers to "individuals who, in addition to high intelligence, share personality traits such as perfectionism, introversion, intensity, sensitivity, idealism, and overexcitability.

"As Abraham Maslow noted, giftedness can manifest in a myriad of ways, although we don't typically reward our gifted auto mechanics and gifted homemakers."

She says another misconception is that "ability automatically leads to high achievement, that compelling talent will overcome all obstacles. As children, many of us heard inspiring stories about eminent men and women who did just that.

"However, the reality is that there are both circumstantial and psychological factors that can adversely affect the actualization of the gifted."

She lists some of those factors: "Poverty, ethnicity, opportunity, lack of understanding about the nature of giftedness in the family, and being female are circumstances that can impede talent development."

Psychology professor Ellen Winner, PhD cautions in her book Gifted Children: Myths and Realities that "We cannot assume a link between early giftedness, no matter how extreme, and adult eminence. The factors that predict the course of a life are multiple and interacting. Over and above level of ability, important roles are played by personality, motivation, the family environment, opportunity, and chance."

Still, there are many inspiring examples of people who show we can overcome obstacles and contribute our talents to help make this a better world for everyone.

Author's Bio: 

Douglas Eby writes about the psychology of creative expression and personal growth. His site has a wide range of articles, interviews, products and other resources to inform and inspire: Talent Development Resources. Please visit