Engaging The Genius Quality: Sensitivity
As I wrote in my opening blog about the genius qualities, I’m basing this blog series on the work of Dr. Tom Armstrong. He identified the 12 genius qualities after reading biographies and autobiographies of “acknowledged adult geniuses.”
From his reading, Dr. Armstrong concluded that all people are innately open to these genius qualities, but they need to be awakened. He also believes each quality can be strengthened, stifled, or diminished entirely by the people we interact with and by our environment. Based on my experiences and discussions with many people, the “stifling idea” may be more true with the quality I’m writing about today than any others.
Surprise: Sensitivity is a Genius Quality
Many of the genius qualities are predicted by the audiences I speak with. This includes creativity, curiosity, and inventiveness. This one, sensitivity, surprises people. It’s defined as “incredible openness to the world.”
Children don’t have as many preconceived notions of how things are supposed to be or work. They tend to be more open than adults in both mind and heart, and in their five senses. Children don’t have to get out of a box because they’re not in one to begin with. Some adults not only live in a box; they have the lid shut.
I definitely lived that way for a long time. I liked knowing what I knew and I didn’t mind not knowing what I didn’t know. I thought about what I wanted to and left the rest alone. I didn’t naturally engage my heart when thinking.
What happened to change me? I began associating with open, sensitive people. I saw and liked their freedom, joy, and sensitivity to other people’s ideas and feelings. They felt other people’s feelings and also reacted to ideas with their own feelings. I learned that engaging the heart was a good thing that didn’t have to interfere with my thoughts. (Yes, I used to think it would.) I learned I could trust these friends with my observations and feelings. I, therefore, gained experience and confidence.
I’m grateful because I’ve become a better person from this. And I find other genius qualities are easier to use when I’m sensitive to what’s going on around me, impressionable to people, places, and experiences.
We Can’t Be “Too Sensitive”
I agree with Dr. Armstrong: Sensitivity makes life more vivid. Do you know people who have been told they are “too sensitive”? Have you seen them shut down and disengage? Maybe you can share this blog with them and talk about why you value their ability to feel. We can all help people move beyond their self-imposed boundaries or those forced upon them by others.
If you’re the one who has shut down, hang out with others who are sensitive, lift your lid, and engage with more of life again. Feeling life is rich.