Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about giftedness


How do abilities and talents develop into exceptional achievements?

The development of an individual’s talents and abilities is a lengthy, sometimes lifelong, process of advancing from a specific potential to a specific achievement. Throughout this long developmental period, changes take place in the person, in his or her environment, and in the conditions that contribute to this person’s positive development. Initially, giftedness or a specific development potential is demonstrated by the fact that the person is successful in many areas without any specific external guidance. They learn new content easily and quickly, often through playful discovery and without instruction. There is simply a good match between the prerequisites that the person possesses and the requirements imposed by the activity. Further development of an individual’s potential now requires that he or she engage with and acquire content and skills in a specific area. Having a natural fit is no longer sufficient on its own. The person must also have the opportunity to learn and become proficient as a result. Alongside good teachers and support from the environment, this requires diligence, self-belief, and determination to practice.

To become an expert in one area while developing one’s talents and abilities to achieve above-average performance in this area, it is necessary to specialize even further, to intelligently and creatively use the acquired competencies, and to form networks with others. This puts great demands on people, for example, in terms of goal setting, planning, willpower, and handling one’s own resources or social skills. Finally, to deliver exceptional achievement that has a lasting impact on a domain requires individuals to maintain their commitment over time and believe in themselves, even in the face of failure and rejection. This is successful only if the person can overcome such adversity. Furthermore, it is necessary to convince others of one’s own ideas. Personality and the ability to inspire others can play a decisive role here.

In other words, the stages of development of abilities and talents can be characterized as potential, competence, expertise, and exceptional achievement, each with somewhat different conditions for further positive development. Accordingly, exceptional achievements are very rare because the development of abilities and talents is complex and linked to many different preconditions.


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