Finding Brilliance

A dear friend recently sent me a link called “10 Rules for Brilliant Women” by Tara Sophia Mohr ( and it was a fantastic bit of inspiration for me on a Monday morning during the busiest month of the year for folks who work in higher education.

While all ten “rules” are important for us to think about and take action in our own way I was struck by the last one:

Let other women know they are brilliant. Let them know what kind of brilliance you see, and why it’s so special. Call them into greater leadership and action. Let them know that they are ready. Watch out for that subtle, probably unconscious thought, “because I had to struggle and suffer on my way up…they should have to too.” Watch out for thinking this will “take” too much time – when the truth is it always has huge, often unexpected returns.”

This is a win-win situation for all involved. You have the opportunity to share positive affirmation with a person who is very deserving of your praise and they get to hear that their talents and abilities are recognized by another person. It may just encourage them to pay it forward or think about how to leverage their talent into something greater than they ever imagined possible.

At various conferences I have seen program sessions about how to give critical feedback and this is indeed an important skill. But it seems (especially as we move progress in our careers) that we may improve in having those tough conversations but we lose sight of the importance of recognizing people who add value to our work and our lives.

Think about your group of friends. Are they comprised of people you have known since you were a child or have they become close to you later in life (in college or later)? How do you recognize what they bring into your life? “Brilliance” can mean so may things. It can be recognition of amazing parenting skills, or praise of a personal characteristic like patience, empathy or ambition. It isn’t about being “Einstein” it’s about recognizing people who have skills that you admire.

There is also a myth that you have to be very close to a person to be able to praise them and I don’t believe that is true. I notice “brilliance” in all sorts of ways and I am not shy to share it—if I have known you for five minutes or five years!

So this is my personal call to action. When you have genuine praise to give, share it! Even if it is just a fleeting thought–call, text, email, send a card or tweet out your recognition (if you know the person is comfortable with that kind of public display.)

So…putting my money where my mouth is, I will use this post to introduce you to three people to recognize these folks who let their brilliance shine!

Vicka Bell-Robinson: Vicka is the Associate Director of Residence Life at Miami University.

Despite living a busy and chaotic life she somehow seems to manage all of this—work, a leadership role in a professional association, being a wife to Frank and mom to three young children–with strength and grace. Vicka is one of the most calm and patient women I have ever met and is usually my first phone call when I have a professional dilemma. She is a woman of integrity and I am so proud to know her.
Follow her on Twitter at @VickaBR

Jen Fox: Jen is the Associate Director of Housing Services at DePaul University.

Jen possesses a keen logical mind and a student-centered heart. Although her job duties are highly administrative in nature she is one of the first people to say “Will this work for students?” Jen is someone who I admire because she cares deeply about the success of those around her and is an amazing asset to her department.
Follow her on Twitter at @j_e_fox

Dr. Gail Cole-Avent: Gail is the Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs and University Ombudsperson at the University of Miami (FL).

Have you ever met someone and instantly thought “I need that person in my life?” Well, that is how I felt when I met Gail this year at the NASPA conference. Smart, sharp as a whip, and so REAL, I admire her career, choices and way in which she lives her life. Follow her on Twitter @gcoleavent

Who do you think is brilliant? Tell them…and me!
Follow me on Twitter at @annmarieklotz

About annmarieklotz

I write about all things education, personal & professional development and growth. Once is a question, twice is a discussion and three times is a blog post! Born and raised in Detroit Michigan but currently calling the Pacific Northwest home. I work at Oregon State University and belong to a fantastic community of higher ed professionals around the globe! Lover of theater and the arts. Live your best life!
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1 Response to Finding Brilliance

  1. teribump says:

    AMK… you are extraordinary~you are so generous, so committed, and so beautifully driven. You are Brilliant. T

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