Mary-Elaine Jacobsen - Liberating Everyday Genius (1999)

"Intelligently regulating the force of Everyday Genius is like balancing the flow of a surging underground river. Although its mighty current is mostly invisible, its dynamism is ever moving and ever present."

Aristoteles (384-321 v.Chr.) zegt in zijn Ethica Nicomachea dat het goede leven bereikt wordt door het ontwikkelen van een voortreffelijk karakter in de praktijk van alledag. Aristotelische levenskunst is gericht op karaktervorming.

Voortreffelijkheid van karakter

Voortreffelijkheid is een karakterhouding die ons in staat stelt een keuze te maken en die het midden houdt met betrekking tot ons, een midden dat bepaald wordt door de rede; dat wil zeggen, zoals een verstandig mens het zou bepalen.

Het is een midden tussen twee slechte eigenschappen waarvan de ene wordt gekenmerkt door een teveel en de andere door een tekort. Het is ook een midden doordat sommige slechte eigenschappen onder de juiste maat blijven en andere die overschrijden, zowel op het gebied van het voelen als van het handelen, terwijl voortreffelijkheid het midden weet te vinden en ook kiest. Daarom is voortreffelijkheid in wezen en volgens de definitie van haar essentie een midden.

Het boek “Liberating Everyday Genius” van Mary-Elaine Jacobson bevat onbewust links naar de levenskunst lessen van Aristoteles. In het hoofdstuk “The big three differences: intensity, complexity, and drive” wordt specifiek gesproken over hoe de “Everyday Genius” (of multiversalist), continu op zoek moet gaan naar het gezonde “balanced” midden.

The assets of Everyday Genius are powerful, and when managed, they can fulfill their intended role as the effective foundation for advanced development and excellence. However, when unregulated, these same forces can turn against us by becoming unnecessarily exaggerated - needlessly inflaming situations or causing time-consuming detours, either of which can trigger crippling bouts of self-defeating reactivity or self-doubt that make us appear hopelessly out of control. When Everyday Genius is collapsed or overregulated, the force of gifted ability becomes inverted and stifled or seriously weakened.

Of om het met een metafoor van een rivier te zeggen:

Intelligently regulating the force of Everyday Genius is like balancing the flow of a surging underground river. Although its mighty current is mostly invisible, its dynamism is ever moving and ever present. Because of this, we need a conscious plan to oversee and guide its unseen forces. Damming the current of Everyday Genius can divert it to a channel that leads in the wrong direction, slowing it down to a trickle, stagnating its flow. Letting the current of Everyday Genius energy run wild may flood potentially vital regions of our lives and personalities while keeping other areas drought-ridden.

Aristoteles zou zeggen dat we een voortreffelijk karakter moeten opbouwen in de praktijk van alledag door het midden te zoeken. Net als Aristoteles wordt er gewezen op het feit dat dat niet gemakkelijk is.

To be fully present and undiminished in today’s society, the Everyday Genius needs to acquire the artful agility of a tightrope walker. Let us never forget that the tightrope walk of being our true self, who we are meant to be in the real world is the power source of creativity and breakthrough evolutionary intelligence.

De belangrijkste categorieën van eigenschappen van de multiversalist zijn “intensity”, “complexity” en “drive”. Elke eigenschap wordt in het boek onderverdeeld in twee extremen “collapsed”, “exaggerated” en het gezonde midden of “balanced”.

Collapsed: the flow of energy is dammed up, turning in on itself

Exaggerated: the energy flow is uncontrolled and results in “flash floods”

Balanced: the energy flow is on course, liberated, and dynamic because of self-mastery

In de tabel hieronder nemen we een beperkt aantal van de vele voorbeelden uit het boek die relevant en herkenbaar zijn.

Intensity: quantitatively different

Intensity is primarily a matter of increased arousal. It is the result of a sensory, neural, and emotional network that is more receptive and more responsive, extending higher, deeper, and farther…




Verbal agility

Dodges controversy: steers toward popular opinion

Engaging conversationalist: comfortable with intense discussion

Intractable opinions: dominates conversations

Exceptional concentration

All plans and no progress; dreams fade away

Accomplished and fulfilled

Exhausted and burned out


Insensitive, hard and merciless


Self-destructive martyrdom

Apathetic; materialistic isolationist


Carries the weight of the world

Closed off; rationalizes feelings away

Open and receptive

Too trusting; easily wounded

Our extraordinarily sensitive nervous systems require us to make our way through life with all the advantages and disadvantages of being endowed with an ultrasensitive body, mind and spirit. [...] Excitability and sensitivity are genuine gifts. However, like all valuable commodities, gifted intensities must be monitored so it can be allocated wisely. This is why one of the essential parts of self-mastery is to find others like us with whom we can be open and authentic without fear of judgment or reprisal - a peer group in which it’s acceptable and normal to go fast, far and deep. Such validation will make it easier to regulate the outer expression of our intensities with those who don’t share our hardwiring.

Complexity: qualitatively different

Complexity is the realm of multiple interests, keen self-awareness, intuition, perception, exceptional memory, originality, and compound thinking. Everyday Geniuses have minds that are qualitatively different in that they rapidly assess, integrate, and employ information from multiple domains - facts or theories, images or symbols, feelings, intuition, and divine illumination.




Multiple Interests

Resists change; stuck in the tried and true

Energized by ideas, research and problem solving; lifelong learner

Information junkie; seduced by novelty

Self awareness

Unable to protect self

Monitors and maintains health and well-being

Anxious hypochondriac; compulsive self-evaluation


Restricts knowledge to what can be “proven”; all-or-nothing thinker

Trusts and applies ways of knowing beyond the rational

Bypasses common senses; distorts reality

Transcendent experience

Soulless; empty; inner battles between body, mind, and spirit

Spirit centered; integrates body, mind, and spirit; dedicated to higher principles

Neglect real life in favor of the ethereal - lost in the cosmos

Stunted growth; follows path of least resistance; unfilled

Enlightened; self-actualizing; steadfastly pursues wisdom

Self-improvement junkie

Exceptional memory

Mind clogged with minutiae; detail obsessed; flood of data camouflages lack of knowledge or truth

Extraordinary and wide-ranging knowledge base

Pompous know-it-all

Avoids in-depth analysis; unrealistic or incomplete thinking

Skillfully manages thought processes; expert synthesizer

Consumed by racing or overwhelming thoughts


Threatened by uncertainty and unpredictability

Comfortable with ambiguity; willing to let ideas evolve and mature

Confuses distraction with productive process

Dogmatic and demands instant results; undermines innovation with impatience

Accepts process; understands chaos is prerequisite for creative accomplishment

Thrives on chaos and confusion; feeds of on perpetual drama

Complex thinking

One-dimensional or dead-end thinking; repetitive or illogical

Outstanding problem solver

Analysis without end; no closure

Multiversalists hebben vaak ook een gevoelig afgestemde authenticiteit barometer, die misschien wat in “exaggerated” mode werkt soms. Onderstaand stukje legt dit heel goed uit.

Another subtrait of complexity, perceptivity, is an exceptional ability to cut through the veneer of situations to see the "truth" beneath. Everyday Geniuses readily comprehend the intricacies of other people's personalities and intentions. Everyday Geniuses with higher levels of perceptivity rely on their intuitions to inform and guide them. They tend to be open, honest, outspoken people who are irrepressibly curious and perpetually analytical, unless they are exceptionally introverted or very wounded. Their uncanny ability to penetrate the inner layers of people and situations make them excellent religious leaders, therapists, poets, playwrights, biographers, and photographers. This intuitive force may take them far in their own development when they apply it to understanding themselves and determining what they really want their life's journey to be.

On the downside, perceptive acuity can make social defenses like lying and pretense seem unbearable. Nevertheless, the danger is that not everyone wants to be "known" as quickly or as thoroughly as the gifted person can size them up. People caught in the Everyday Genius' penetrating awareness can feel uncomfortably exposed. This is especially the case if less-than-honorable intentions are laid bare by their piercing insight. Hypocrisy and gifted perceptivity are a bad mix.

Drive: motivationally different

Drive is much more than being unusually ambitious. It is rather a self-contained daemon or guiding inner spirit. Drive is the domain of insatiable curiosity, high standards (perfectionism), perseverance, independence, and self-motivation.




Insatiable curiosity

Ineffective decision maker; avoids information gathering

Adventurous and inquisitive; capable of doing many things competently

Overresearches and can’t decide; ruminates after decisions are made

Involves nobody; underestimates collaboration

Good collaborator; knows when to work together and alone

Involves everybody; overestimates collaboration

High standards

Chronic procrastinator

Holds firm to visions of the ideal

Chronic perfectionist

Exceptional perseverance

Gives up too early; lacks competitive edge

Manages obstacles and setbacks; knows when to persist and when to let go

Sticks it out no matter what; neglects health and relationships

Avoids hard work

Balances work and play; achievement remains part of larger picture

All work and no play; confuses labor with life - “I work, therefore I am”


Easily controlled; buries beliefs and aspirations

Selectively autonomous

Resists input and advice; insists on reinventing the wheel

Codependent and needy; avoids autonomy to feel protected

Mutually independent in relationships; individuality enhances intimacy

Solitary and obstinate; avoids closeness to maintain control

Self motivation

Needs permission and continual reassurance; chronically doubtful

Guidance from within; able to reassure self and others

Never seeks guidance; chronically overconfident

Most Everyday Geniuses don’t know the source of their drives. They have a need to know and a need to go. Sometimes they are motivated by the same things that draw out the efforts of others - awards, money, prestige, power. More than one gifted adults has heard, “You’re supposed to be so smart, so why aren’t you rich and famous?” Truth be told, fame and riches are hardly ever the primary goals. [...] The only wise course of action is to manage the underground river ourselves - neither slowing it to a trickle and letting it stagnate in resignation nor allowing it to rush unchecked, overrunning its banks at every change in the weather and ultimately eroding our most important goals.

Indien we deze inzichten vroeger hadden gehad, zou het zeker ons leven beïnvloed hebben: iets bereiken kost tijd, de lat niet even hoog leggen voor anderen als voor jezelf, ...

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