Monday, August 01, 2022

Your Untapped Reservoirs of Brilliance

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a nurse client who came to me for career coaching, and we were discussing a variety of issues pertaining to her nursing career. At some point in the conversation, I used the phrase, "your untapped reservoir of brilliance", and it has stuck with me since. What untapped reservoirs of brilliance are you ready to mine for your highest good?

Brilliance can mean many different things to different people; for me, it conjures a plethora of images and metaphors. Brilliance can manifest at many levels and in every aspect of life, and in terms of your nursing career, your brilliance---and the brilliance of others---can serve you in ways both imagined and unknown.

The Brilliance of Your Network

If you've read this blog before, or listened to The Nurse Keith Show, you know that we all believe in the power of networking.

When you need advice, who do you reach out to? When you're looking for a job, who can you call on to be a reference? If you're having difficulties in your business, is there a small group of trusted colleagues who you have on speed dial? They're a reservoir of brilliance at your fingertips.

Whether you connect online or in person, your network of like-minded professional colleagues are themselves a potentially untapped reservoir of brilliance to whom you can reach out for support in the course of your career.

Your network is also more than just your professional colleagues; a treasured friend, a wise elderly neighbor, or a thoughtful uncle are also members of your network. When you're in need of clarity around your career, the reflections of someone wholly outside of the healthcare and nursing realms can be like a vein of gold hidden in a mountain. Additionally, when you need support in your personal life, your network of treasured friends and confidantes is unmatched in its potential to see you through a rough patch.

Finally, you're also a member of your connections' networks, so your brilliance is also available to them when it's needed most. Networking and connection are mutual and symbiotic; your ability to give back and bestow your brilliance on others who respect you is a gift so large that it can't be accurately measured.

Your Intuitive Brilliance

Have you ever walked into a job interview and felt certain that you were in the right place at the right time? Have you walked into a potential employer's facility and had a gut reaction that it was the perfect place for you?

Alternately, perhaps you've sat down for an interview with the sudden absolute knowledge that you would never work for this person in a million years; you may have even felt nauseous the moment you stepped in the door. This isn't just coincidence; it's intuition at work.

On the clinical side, you know very well what I mean when I say that nurses can sometimes intuit that something's wrong with a patient before any actual symptoms are apparent. Your intuitive brilliance can certainly shine in those moments, and you need to own that skill (and believe it when it happens).

The times when we second guess our intuition is when we can often miss the mark or throw away an otherwise fortuitous opportunity. The intuitive "hit" could be about a patient, or it could be about something entirely non-clinical. Choosing to pay attention to your intuition is key, and you can learn to listen to it more deeply.

Your intuitive brilliance is a skill, not just your imagination. It's a skill innate to human beings, and it can be honed, sharpened, and strengthened with practice -- and belief.

Your Emotional Brilliance

Most of us have probably heard of emotional intelligence (EI) and the emotional quotient (EQ), and this underlies the idea of your emotional brilliance.

Your emotional brilliance allows you to feel deeply, to use that brilliant nursing intuition, and to be tuned into your patients at a level that other colleagues may not share.

Emotional intelligence has to do with your ability to read and respond to your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Many individuals on the further end of the autism spectrum are not able to read others' emotions; social cues go unrecognized, and body language and facial expression hold less meaning than they do for many of us. Having said that, it's been demonstrated that emotional recognition can be taught and learned, even among some of those people living on the autism spectrum.

You may at times have contact with fellow professionals who seem unable or unwilling to respond appropriately to the emotions of others. You may know a steely-eyed surgeon who seems immune to feeling anything at all about her patients; consider that perhaps she stuffs her emotions down so that she can maintain a certain clinical distance when performing frighteningly complex surgeries. She may also just be a person completely out of touch with her emotional life.

Or maybe there's a nurse who appears to see patients as bothersome burdens rather than people in medical crisis; he may be burned out, emotionally exhausted, or in pain himself.

Emotional brilliance can be the very life force that empowers you through each day; it's the engine of your authenticity and connection with others. Even when some colleagues appear to be completely out of touch with their emotional lives, you can make a different choice. You can lead by example by being intuitive, sensitive, attuned to others, and unfalteringly empathic.

Your Relational Brilliance

Relational brilliance and relational intelligence are directly connected to the notion of emotional intelligence. Relational intelligence is, in a sense, where emotional intelligence is put into action.

Relational brilliance and relational intelligence assist you on the interpersonal level when relating to patients and colleagues, but also in terms of your inner life. And if your inner life is teeming with depth and insight, your ability to be fully present for your patients' deeper longings and grief will be exponentially strengthened.

Your brilliance may lie in communication, listening, demonstrating empathy, motivational interviewing, and other skills related to interaction with other human beings.

What is it about you that makes your relationships special? How do people feel when others are around you? What impact do you have on the people in your orbit?

As an introvert, you may relate more readily with one or two people at a time, whereas an extrovert gains energy and joy from interacting with people in any configuration. Both ways of being are valuable. The relational brilliance of an introvert can be just as powerful as that of an extrovert; it's simply a different approach and relational style.

Whether you're a natural leader who others look to for visionary thinking, or you're a quiet observer who chimes in sparingly but are always spot on and perceptive, your value is equal.

Relational brilliance will never steer you wrong; it's a skill and personal quality worthy of being nurtured and strengthened throughout your lifetime.

Your Nursing Brilliance

As a nurse, your brilliance shines through in many ways, both on and off duty. Nurses are so very trusted by the public, and our individual and collective brilliance is like a beacon to those who need both the art and science of nursing to work on their behalf.

Your nursing brilliance may manifest in your relationships with patients. Some nurses thrive on connection, and this can transform the nurse-patient dynamic in powerful and positive ways.

Or perhaps your brilliance lies in the ability to cut to the chase when reading the latest research and evidence-based findings, and then communicating your findings to other staff members. Your brilliance may be as an educator and researcher.

The members of the nursing profession need to recognize that we need nurses in every sector of our profession and the healthcare space. Not everyone thrives at the bedside, and the validity of one nurse's contributions are no less than that of another. Those who work in the ICU need to see the brilliance of those who work in home health or education, and vice versa. Nursing brilliance is everywhere you look, and its impact is beyond measure.

Your Lifelong Brilliance

Sharpening and strengthening your emotional and relational intelligence will certainly move the needle in your professional relationships, but also in your personal life, which will be enriched by the ways in which you can more deeply tap into your various channels of brilliance.

Meanwhile, the brilliance and collective power of your network will only enhance your professional and personal lives, just as your intuitive brilliance will shine through at just the right moments when you pay it heed.

There may be other untapped reservoirs of brilliance in your life. What are they? How can you identify them? And how can you bring them to the foreground?

If you can own your various forms of personal brilliance and allow them to manifest fully, your life will be richer, and your career more fulfilling. Let it shine!


Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is a Board Certified Nurse Coach offering holistic career development for nurses and healthcare professionals. All things Nurse Keith can be found at

Keith is the host of The Nurse Keith Show, his solo podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast.

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century and Aspire to be Inspired: Creating a Nursing Career That Matters. He has contributed chapters to a number of books related to the  nursing profession. written for,, MultiBriefs News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline, StaffGarden, AusMed, American Sentinel University,, Diabetes Lifestyle, the ANA blog,, American Nurse Today, Working Nurse Magazine, and other online and print publications.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, keynote speaker, online nurse personality, social media influencer, podcaster, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known nurse entrepreneur. 

Living in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico, Keith shares a magical life with his partner, Shada McKenzie, a gifted, empathic, and highly skilled traditional astrologer and reader of the tarot. 

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