Two Rules to Becoming an Artist of ADD


The first rule in learning the Art of ADD is very simple, yet incredibly hard at the same time. The first rule requires a paradigm shift, accepting what is, in order to allow what’s possible.

Rule number one

Accept that you suck. Accept that no matter how hard you try, you will never be as good as you could be.

Harsh words maybe, but true nonetheless. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. In fact, you are so not alone that the whole world is in your sucky boat with you. No one will ever be as good as they could be. You could always be better. Apart from Jesus Christ and few sacred others, perfection is a commodity that won’t be accumulated by anyone in this lifetime.

So accept that you suck because we all do. Then get over it and move on.

Rule number two

Realize you can suck less, or be better than what you are now. How can you be a better version, or even the best possible version of yourself in this lifetime? Here’s where rule number two and one collide. You won’t, or can’t, be better than what you are right now until you accept the fact that you have ADD and that you may never be that ideal person you imagine in your head.

That person you imagine in your head doesn’t exist.

Welcome ADD

In accepting ADD, I don’t mean just accepting you have the diagnosis that goes by those call letters, or that you admit it to other people or even shout it to the world. It is more important for you to accept what having ADD means in your world. You aren’t built like other people. Your brain operates in an entirely different fashion, and you need to learn everything you can about yourself so that you can live life the way you were meant to live it.

What I really mean is, that instead of fighting ADD, you lean into it.

When someone accosts you by the arm and tries to hold you back, simply pulling your arm away will only work if your upper body is much stronger than their grip. But if you lean in, ever so slightly, you can get a better stance and leverage your stronger muscles and agility against the hold to set yourself free. If your brain wiring is holding you back, it’s possible that you might free yourself of your challenges using brute force and sheer might, but my guess is that the “try harder” model hasn’t worked so far.

Acceptance means you let ADD be there, knowing that ultimately, it’s not going to go away. Take a deep breath, let a sigh out, and say “you are welcome here” to your ADD. Then, start looking for ways you and ADD can live together ”happily ever after”. Okay, back to reality: nobody lives happy ever after, but we can certainly live “happier ever after” if we let ourselves be just who we are.

Don’t you think?

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16 comments on “Two Rules to Becoming an Artist of ADD

  1. My first step – Accepting my 85% was enough. Since my 100% is like most 115% then my 85% is like their 100%… Or really I obsess on perfection rather than completion. So I get the guts of it done then spend the remaining time until due date perfecting. Then walk away and don’t look back. I work smarter not harder!

    Step two – was tuning into my “super power”. ADD is the reason for my quick wit, humor, creativity, ability to problem solve quickly and see so many things around me before others see the 1 thing right in front of their face.

    Step three – sharing with my students (I’m a middle school teacher) my struggles and successes. I’m real, straight up and broken in front of my students… Now we work together and accomplish great things.

    My home room is with 8-10, 13-14 yr old ADD’ers. My ultimate goal is for them to find their super power and let it explode. It’s so awesome to watch them stand with greater pride by the end of it. Not a good fit for all ADD’ers but it’s a work in progress.

    Thank you for this resource. I am looking forward to it’s growth.

    1. Todd – thank you for sharing. You highlighted something really important here – for an ADDer, our 85% is often like someone else`s 100% so it unreasonable to expect that we can continually put out 100% effort. I think we are built for short bursts of incredible effort – the kind that can`t be sustained for long periods, but that also can`t be reached by most other people according to Garrett LoPorto. I also love that you share your struggles with your students. You are a true ambassador for our cause. You stepping up and sharing your struggles with your students shows that you are a competent, successful human being who struggles. And that struggling is part of being competent and successful – for everyone. They need to know that. Helping them find their superpower makes you a superhero of the most epic kind, in my opinion! I hope that I can continue to be a resource that supports you in the amazing work you do!

  2. Tell it like it is, give our fellow ADDers the straight dope and provide realistic, actionable solutions. Likin’ it. And looking forward to reading lots more from you. -Crusher

    1. Thanks Crusher, really appreciate your opinion and could say the exact same for you. Everyone who wants straight-up, tangible strategies for managing ADD needs to check out!

  3. I LOVE the “you suck” comment! Lol. You’re right! I do!! We all do. And that fact really helps put life in perspective. Who truly expects perfection of us, except ourselves? Thank you for reminding me of that and allowing me to open up to the idea of “leaning into it” (which I also love!!). I can already see that your blog will be very helpful to me (and many others!!) and will be a place I’ll visit often. Cheers!

  4. You suck! I suck! Agreed? Good, let’s move on then. I love your ‘no b.s.’ way of putting it out there! Let’s all quit feeling sorry for ourselves and get on with life with no excuses! I appreciate your honesty and bluntness!

  5. Thanks to all. Had someone review it beforehand who agreed the “suck” part seemed a bit harsh at first, but then I think that sometimes a harsh reality is what’s needed. Especially when it points to the fact that its not quite as bad as it seems. I guess the way I woke up to the fact that I needed to “lean into it” was through an abrupt “smack in the face” – nothing gentler would have woke me up to it!

    Thanks for expanding upon the idea Gill – you are totally right, it is all about where your spending your energy.

    Rebel Yell – I’m glad that it met your expectations and that it has been helpful. Good luck with your venture as well!

  6. Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely helpful info specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this certain information for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

  7. I’ll admit, I was a bit shocked by Rule 1, but reading further gave it context and honesty that is often missing. Acceptance for yourself is a huge step and brutal honesty is needed for that.

    It’s so hard to stop fighting what life throws at you,even without ADD. Your description is so simple, yet appropriate. I’ve never fully thought throgh how the physical context reflects the mental fight: if we can learn to relax physically and mentally, to focus our energies on succeeding instead of fighting, we’ll become who we are meant to be.

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