10 ADD Trailblazers Share Their Biggest Assets

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of ADDers. Truth be told, I am a big fan of people in general, but those who dare to be a little different are certainly my favourite kind. The Art of ADD has one modus operandi – to help people find strengths in their differences. So for this post, I have rounded-up some expert insights from trailblazers of the ADD world, asking them this question:

“What is one ADHD trait you have learned to use to your advantage or that you believe serves you well in life?”


Terry Matlen

I’d have to say that being bored easily and being easily distracted has helped me. It has offered me the path to creative thinking and to pursue creative activities. In my ADHD related work, I do many different things to help people: writing (book, blogs, articles, etc.), consulting, coming up with various projects, ie group coaching, newsletters…the list goes on.

For my non-ADHD related work/activities, I’ve found that those two ADHD traits (distracted and easily bored) have given me the ability to be creative in other areas. I’m an accomplished artist and an amateur musician.

So…I am *never* bored because I cannot tolerate BEING bored. My energy then becomes a creative force that allows me to do all these different things.

Terry Matlen is the Author of Survival Tips for Women with ADHD and Director of, and Reach her at

Sari Solden

My ability to create even in chaos and work through confusion till I get to the place where I am calm, focused and strong.

Sari Solden is the author of Women With Attention Deficit Disorder and Journeys Through ADDulthood. A psychotherapist with ADD herself, Sari has worked with individuals and families affected by ADD for over 25 years. Find her at


Rick Green

Hyper-focus. At one point in my career I was co-writing, co-starring and directing The Red Green show (all 24 episodes of the season) and that same year I was writing and hosting 30 episodes of my science-fiction/comics/horror series Prisoners of Gravity. In my spare time, I ate food and tried to squeeze in a bath.

Rick Green is a Canadian comedian, writer, and producer of ADD & Loving It?! and ADD & Mastering It! He is also the co-author of ADD Stole My Car Keys and founder of

Zoe Kessler


By definition, ADHD brains think differently. An ADHD mind is the perfect incubator for creativity: for seeing connections where others wouldn’t; for interpreting things in fresh ways; and for creating humour in any situation. The latter ability has served me, and helped me to serve others, more times than I can count. Most importantly, it’s a healing balm that can be applied in life’s toughest moments. And for that, I am deeply grateful.

Zoe is the author of the blog ADHD from A to Zoë. You can also find her at,, and

Laurie Dupar

One ADHD trait that I have used to my advantage in my professional success is creativity. Not necessarily creativity in the artistic sense, although I am quite a crafty person and enjoy this part of my ADHD in my hobbies and personal interests, but in the sense of always being able to create new innovative solutions and possibilities for my clients to better manage their ADHD. Creativity in thinking of new ideas or ways to serve and meet the needs of the community of ADHD. Creativity and out of the box thinking in discovering better ways to manage some of my own challenges. With ADHD, I firmly believe creativity reigns supreme!

Laurie Dupar, PMHNP, RN, PCC has been a Certified ADHD Coach for over nine years. She has been the host of the Succeed With ADHD Telesummit in 2011 and 2012, and is author of 365 Ways to Succeed With ADHD. Find her at and


Alan Brown (ADD Crusher)

As an advertising executive and entrepreneur, I use my ADHD mind to brainstorm new ideas and creatively problem-solve. Linear-thinking, NON-ADDers can’t do what we right-brained, LATERAL-thinking ADDers can do – which is the synaptic thinking leveraged by inventors, artists and business pioneers. Yay us!!

Alan Brown, a struggling exec until diagnosed, crafted the success strategies in ADD Crusher™ videos — interactive tools helping ADDers live to their potential. Check out!

Marilyn Strong

The one ADHD trait that I have learned to use to my advantage is procrastination combined with a ‘gut feeling’.

Over the years I have procrastinated about nearly everything. Eventually I may get ‘to it’ by hyperfocusing, fueling up on adrenalin and caffeine and then crashing when the task or project is done. I’m much better now, working in smaller ‘bites’, taking deep breaths and planning all sorts of fantastic rewards when I accomplish a task or project. There are still times though when, technically, I’m procrastinating but in reality I’m not.

You see, I’ve discovered that if I’m procrastinating and I recognize that I’m procrastinating and there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason for procrastinating, and when I attempt the project or task it just doesn’t go together well, there still is a reason – albeit not a ‘logical reason’. Instead, it’s a gut feeling I get that tells me to wait. In this case, waiting is not procrastinating. Waiting is waiting for the right moment or the right timing or the right resources to come along. More times than not that waiting has saved me energy, time and money!

I can feel and tell the difference between procrastinating and my gut telling me to wait. And I have enough integrity to determine if that ‘gut feeling’ is real or imagined and to make sure I either plow through the task or project or recognize it’s truly a ‘wait’ time.

In spite of her ADD/ADHD Marilyn Strong, BA, MBA is an award winning newspaper publisher, successful business and marketing strategist and best selling author. In her book, “Getting Paid to Pay Attention”, Marilyn shares the strategies and action plans that will help struggling solo entrepreneurs and small business owners with ADD/ADHD end their procrastination, avoid distraction and conquer hyper-focus tendencies and become successful in their own businesses. Marilyn can be found at


Karen O’Donnell

I find that the hyperfocus aspect of ADD really, really works for me. In my work, I am required to get many things done very quickly and it seems at times, all at the same time. I have learned over the years that instead of panicking I seem to be able to switch into “hyperfocus” mode and the world around me falls into the background until I get what I need to get done!….This has taken a lot of practice however. The down side is turning it off!….which is where the practice really comes in. As we know, our biggest strengths can also be our weakness if we are not fully aware of how to use our abilities to our advantage. I am very thankful for this ADD trait of hyperfocus as it truly assists me in my work each and every day.

Karen O’Donnell is the founder of the production company Wordshop Productions and the producer of the ADHD documentaries Odd Kid Out and A Mind Like Mine. Check her out at


Stephanie Sarkis

I believe that my ability to connect with people, particularly those with ADHD, has allowed me to help people who are facing life’s challenges.

Stephanie Sarkis PhD NCC LMHC is a Psychotherapist, coach, and author of books on adult ADHD, including 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD. Her website is


Jonathan Chesner

Having an overactive mind. I’m always thinking up new ideas and different ways of doing stuff!

Jonathan Chesner is the author of ADHD in HD: Brains Gone Wild. Find him at and


I want to thank everyone for sharing their experiences and “insider information”, and for taking a chance to share it with me before The Art of ADD was even live. It is because of ADDers like this – who are so willing to share – that the rest of us can open ourselves up to our strengths too. A special thanks also goes out to Zoe Kessler, who was a great support in helping me connect with some REALLY GREAT ADDERS! Thanks all!


The Art of ADD Video Manifesto

Presenting…. a short and sweet version of the manifesto, condensed and animated for my visual friends. I would like to give a special thanks to Aidar Algozhin for his expertise and craftsmanship in designing and producing this video. He is a wonderful and talented animator/producer to work with – find him at or check out

Thank you Aidar for your work!

Thank you everyone else for watching my video. Let me known what you think!


Fighting the Waves of ADD


I almost died and still – I just didn’t get it. I guess wake- up calls don’t always resonate the loudest rings.

Thirteen years ago, I was caught in a rip tide off the Eastern Coast of Australia, near a lovely little seaside resort called Byron Bay. Being from a landlocked Canadian prairie province, I was a virgin when it came to coastal aquatics. I leaped in to cool off in the effervescent waves, drunk on the beauty of the sea and alight with the energy of the glorious Australian sun. I was oblivious to the rip and its intent for me.

Thanks to my lack of attention, it took some time for me to realize I was in trouble. It wasn’t until I looked up and noticed my traveling partner half a mile down the beach from me, flailing her arms in desperate exhaustion, that I twigged to the fact that something wasn’t right. I started swimming mightily for the shoreline, getting nowhere but further out to sea. My dear friend remembers it as the most frightening experience of her life. I only remember intense frustration and the incredible urge to bitch-slap mother nature in the face.

Thankfully, after an eternal fifteen minutes or so, a couple of surfers showed up and rescued us like knights in shining board gear.

I later learned that rips have a tendency to suck swimmers further and further out, but never actually pull them under. The unfamiliar swimmer, if not rescued, drowns from exhaustion. What you are meant to do is to let the rip pull you out a bit, then swim casually across, perpendicular to the shore, until you find the spot where the rip ceases. And then swim in.

I had no idea.

Swimming straight to the shore, even though faced with a fierce rip, seemed intuitively right. I didn’t know what I was up against. And yet my determination to fight against the waves is the very thing that would have killed me had it not been for a nearby surf school.

I wish that incident had awoken me to the preciousness of life and the need to soak up every moment of it, knowing that at any minute it could be ripped away. It didn’t. I’m not always an apt pupil of life’s lessons. I never could pay attention in class, regardless of the teacher. At best, my near-death drowning experience became a good anecdote to share once and awhile when the beer was flowing and there was nothing else to brag about.

I had no idea what a metaphor for my life that moment had been. I fought those waves for several minutes, but I had been fighting against who I am for a lifetime. I wonder if this kind of fight sounds at all familiar to you?

Years later, a light bulb went off and I made a deliberate decision to stop swimming against my ADD. The light bulb was a lot subtler than the oppressive waves, yet hit me with much greater impact. I simply listened – and observed – as an ADD expert talked to a group of people about the challenges of ADD, and how the ethos of brokenness keeps them stuck. As I listened, I suddenly realized this man knew more about my angst than anyone else in the world, and he had never met me. And it got me thinking – what was this thing I had been fighting against all my life? And more importantly – where was this fight getting me? Maybe, this thing and I didn’t have to be enemies anymore. Maybe, letting this wave take me out a bit could lead me to calmer waters.

The fight against my ADD self was exhausting me and it never worked – the harder I fought it, the further I got from where I wanted to be. So I gave up the fight; I gave in. I let the rip of ADD take me. I accepted that it is a part of who I am and that the things I was fighting so hard against would always be with me. It didn’t happen overnight, but when I finally accepted ADD as a part of me instead of trying to “will it away”, my self-concept, and subsequently self-worth, started changing rapidly-  for the better.

Things started to shift. I had a clearer picture of what it was I was dealing with. I could accept my flaws as part of my brain-wiring, rather than berating myself for not trying hard enough. I could find a way to live with those flaws, but manage them better. That part, of course, is still a work in progress. But the most disastrous part of my ADD is no longer an issue – I don’t beat myself up for it. I am swimming across the rip and making my way to shore.

For what it’s worth, I consider it an endurance swim for leisure, not a race.

I don’t know where you are in relation to your ADD – it may be somewhere completely different than where I am. Or, we may be on the same course. What I do know is that as ADDers, our greatest opportunity for growth and learning is from each other, as we are all part of the same tribe. I would love for you to share your experience of the ADD path in the comments below, and let us know how you have (or haven’t yet) come to terms with it, so that we all benefit from your insight!


Insider Information For Those Frustrated With Their ADDers


This post is dedicated to anyone who has the pleasure of living with someone with ADD.

The last thing I want is for you to think I have forgotten about you, the unsung heroes of the ADD world.

I’m not being obsequious when I call you an unsung hero. I’ve had to live with me for nearly four decades, and at least I could daydream my way through most of it. When I die and my life flashes before my eyes, it will be truly fascinating as I never saw most of it the first time around. But you (collectively, the ones who live with us) saw all of it. And lived with it. Somehow. How?

My first post was a call-to-arms, recruiting struggling ADDers to embrace their ADD so that they can live their best possible lives by working with it. As I wrote that, I couldn’t wipe from my imagination the loved ones who might feel slightly disgruntled by my message, especially if it wasn’t received exactly as I had intended it. So if that’s the case, I will elucidate my intention to you now.

So What’s It All About?

Turning ADD into an art form does not mean that you throw yourself into it without consideration of the other people in your life. It doesn’t give you an excuse to stay unchanged, making no apology for your mistakes and no amends to correct them. It is not a license to be reckless, thoughtless or selfish. Those things aren’t inherent for all ADDers, nor are they exclusive to them. Everyone has the ability to be reckless, thoughtless and selfish. And everyone has the ability not to be.

The two most important constructs underlying the Art of ADD “theory” will make it clear to you that it is not permission to act wild with abandon and carelessness. An artist of ADD always strives for two things when they do what they do: Authenticity and Integrity.


Authenticity means that your ADDer shows up in the world as him or herself, being who he or she truly is, openly and honestly, and not hiding or denying their challenges. It also means that they do not hide or deny their strengths and gifts, even from themselves. Being authentic means being okay with who you are and being free to be yourself.


Acting in integrity means that you learn to stop and think: about what you are doing or saying and why you are doing or saying it. It is making sure those things are in line with what you value and believe to be important in life. ADDers seldom have the chance to sit down and think pointedly about any topic, let alone those things that are globally important to them. Yet without thinking about it, it’s pretty hard to act in accordance with your values. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s easy to see why certain behaviours can appear to originate from a lack of integrity. As Russell Barkley tells us, ADD is not so much a disorder of attention as it is a disorder of intention. We do mean well. We just don’t always know how to act in line with these intentions. Part of that learning comes through building accountability into our lives.

That being said, I can’t pretend that your ADDer’s values will be the same as yours. That’s life. Any parent or spouse would pay big money for an elixir that seduces their loved ones into wanting what they want. But ADD doesn’t dictate what you will value in life. Becoming an Artist of ADD does help you figure out what you value and how to get more of it. Most people want to get along better with their loved ones and to feel that they are meaningful contributors to their relationships. If your ADDer doesn’t, I suspect it has little to do with their perspective of ADD, and more to do with things for which they should probably see a therapist.

What I want for ADDers is to see that there is nothing broken or wrong about their character, and that the path to living happier lives is not in trying to do things the way that others do them, but in finding unique ways that work for them. The bigger picture is that when an ADDer finds the way they work best, especially when they find their passion and flow, other challenges of ADD begin to lessen or dissipate. Some things that seem like an ADD symptom may actually be a faulty compensatory behaviour used in desperation to cope with “not being normal”.

What I want for you, the loved one of an ADDer is to know a few things.

Whose Problem Is It?

First, it’s not you. No matter what you might think, ADD can be crazy-making, so please don’t feel like it is your fault or responsibility to fix. Unless you are a neurobiologist working in the field of ADD research, it’s not up to you to figure out.

Second, it is you – kind of. Huh? Well, of course you have a part to play in the dynamics between you and your loved one. Humans who interact with each other, especially on a daily basis, affect each other and are responsible for one half of the relationship. I’m Okay, You’re Okay has a little known sequel called I’m Screwed Up, You’re Screwed Up. Read it. The point is, if there are difficulties in a relationship it is never down to only one person. Knowing this can help you work out what part you play in keeping an unhelpful dynamic going.

Third, Donne was right – no man an island, and no ADDer is the infallible deity he or she would like to be. Your ADDer needs your help, though he or she may resent that fact and is not likely to admit it openly. How you acknowledge this with your loved one all depends on where you are both at – in terms of understanding and accepting ADD, and the state of your relationship. If you can, find a quiet, unstressed time to sit down and talk about the challenges and what you both want to be different, and how you both can help. Sometimes, the only help needed is the open acknowledgement that your relationship needs equal participation in order to get better.

Lastly, you aren’t an island either. Loving an ADDer can be incredibly frustrating and at times downright exasperating. You need help too, a break or even some time out when it gets too much. But loving an ADDer can be wonderful as well (I have one of my own you see, so I know!), and only gets more wonderful when he or she learns to live in flow with ADD, instead of fighting against it.

I hope this makes clear the intentions of this blog. I would love to hear more about your challenges and successes in an ADD relationship, and of course your thoughts on my theories, so please comment!


The Art of ADD Manifesto (The ADD Way)

We are not broken. We are whole.

They say we have deficits. We have all the skills everyone else has, we just use them differently.

Others say we are distracted. We are; distracted by all the possibilities and connections we see, the ones others don’t.

We have fire in our bellies and engines that drive us. Our spirit is interminable.

We are not defined by a list of symptoms. ADD is a part of who we are, but not the whole of who we are.

We do it differently. Different is not bad or wrong. If there was no different, there would be no Edison, Einstein or Branson.

We don’t want to be normal. We want to be ourselves.

We need help with certain things, like others need helping cutting hair or doing taxes. That makes us human.

We easily forget to do what is asked of us. We apologize for that. We also forget easily when you fall short too.

We’re sorry we don’t always remember birthday cards or thank-you notes. You are important to us, but calendars elude us. Please don’t forget that when we do honour you, it is usually in a more thoughtful and creative way than a card could ever conceive of.

We are lost in our thoughts for one reason: our thoughts are very interesting.

We lose things and forget things, get sidetracked or derailed for the same reason: our thoughts are very interesting.

Our thoughts can lead to wonderful things, when we channel them and use them properly. Our impulses and whims bear this same potential.

We interrupt because we are excited by what you are saying and we want you to know we connect with it. We want to find a connection with you.

Ask yourself, does anyone else in your life get even half as excited by your ideas as we do?

We act on the impulses most people secretly wish they could. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out well. That’s a part of life. We accept that not all things we do will work out well.

But when they do – they work out very, very well. It’s a risk we are willing to take.

We long for inclusion but we don’t want to fit in entirely. What we want is a life less ordinary, with a few less bumps and spills as well.

We realize that we’ve had a place in the evolution of society. We have always been here. We didn’t become disordered until society decided that uncommon was unhealthy.

We are visionaries, dreamers, hunters and warriors. We are explorers, creatives, go-getters and doers. We know that there are limited spaces in this world for these positions, and we are happy to fill them.

Without your organization, structure and planning we could not do our jobs.

Without our vision and inspiration, your jobs would be pointless.

We are all cogs that make the engine run.

We run on diesel in a world where petrol is the dominant fuel. If we force ourselves to take in gasoline, our engines run poorly and fail. When we fuel ourselves properly, our drive accelerates us.

We don’t mind that others like to do things linearly, methodically and didactically. So please don’t mind our tangents and trajectories. We get there in the end.

Whether you paint by numbers or colour outside the lines, in the end – the picture is still complete.

We don’t apologize for our ADD ways, anymore than a zebra apologizes to a horse for its stripes.

We don’t use ADD as an excuse, anymore than a bumble bee uses his weight as a reason not to fly.

We don’t do life the normal way.

We do it the ADD way.



The Art of ADD

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” Henry Ward Beecher

Let me first introduce myself. My name is Andrea and I am your personal trainer, your drill sergeant, your muse. I am also your biggest fan.

I am here to do one thing: inspire you with my mission. My mission is anything but impossible. I want you to let go of all your negative perceptions of yourself and your ADD, and embrace an entirely different concept of who you are. You may not even identify yourself as having ADD, but are someone who senses something different about yourself when you look around at your peers. You see them going about their normal nine-to-fives, collected and organized, and seeming to “have it together”. You wonder if you’re missing something. I am talking to that awkwardness in you.

This mission may sound grandiose and naïve, but it is critically important. Hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, are counting on you. Some of these people haven’t even been born yet.

To some, my mission may seem inane. I don’t care. They don’t have to read this blog and frankly, it’s not for them. It’s for the rest of you, who don’t want to feel bad anymore and are ready to put your foot down on self-deprecation. Not just put your foot down on it, but lay the boots to it.

I will offer this warning, akin to a drug ad on TV. I am obliged to warn you of what side effects you may experience from reading my blog.

You may learn to like yourself. You may learn to live in an entirely different way, and I can guarantee it won’t be anything like the way your peers in the so-called normal world live. You may begin to understand your ADD brain (or awkwardness in life, if that’s the case), and to work with it – instead of against it. You may even learn to like it. You may learn to like you.

I am not a syrupy-sweet transformational blogger who oozes flippant advice on positivity and loving yourself. Sweetness won’t cut it in this revolution. I am a realist who knows that self-defeatist attitudes serve no purpose in this world and especially in your life. If I were an action hero, I would be Pollyanna with a pistol – pointed straight at the heart of the scoundrel who says you aren’t good enough.

Why the Art of ADD?

I believe that anything done well becomes an art in its own rite. Michael Schumacher was an artist behind the wheel. Richard Branson is an artist of business and enterprise. Chris Guillebeau is an artist at unconventional living.

I want you to become an artist of ADD.

I am not interested in prescribing methods of overcoming or managing your ADD so well that you become “normal”. Normal bores me, and let’s face it – no matter how hard you try, you will never be “neurotypical”.

The Art of ADD is not tactical or technique-driven by nature, though I do know a few tips and tricks I will happily share from time to time. I will also point you to some great resources that have helped me manage the challenges of ADD. But I am more interested in experience, and right now I want to help you have the best experience of ADD possible – one you may not have imagined possible.

So spread apart your feet, widen your base, throw your hands up in the air and lift your face to the sky. You have ADD and you are going to rock it my friend. We need to stand up and show the other members of our tribe that we have a place in this world, a very functional and useful place, and what we contribute cannot be offered by anyone else.

But first, we have to see what we are worth, accept that our value comes with taxation (yes, we will always have challenges). Then we must grow this wealth and share it.

You’ve more than likely had years of criticism and experience telling you how crap you are. A significant chunk of this psychological warfare has been in your own head, no doubt. It’s time to let it go. We won’t pretend that everything about ADD is awesome or cool. It’s not, and no one knows that better than we do. But we can be awesome and cool – we can be amazing, in spite of and because of our ADD. Don’t mistake art for perfection – even masterpieces have flaws.

Why is this so important? Right now, somewhere in the world, a little boy (or girl, but let’s say boy for convenience) is sitting there wondering what is wrong him and why he can’t be just like everyone else. He will have heard messages from his teachers, his friends and even family members (covertly or directly) that how he is … that who he is … is wrong.

“Sit down, shut up and do as you’re told”

seems to be the ethos that tells this little boy – who can’t sit quietly as easily as his peers – there is something wrong with him. The message that tells him he isn’t good enough, intended or not, will sync with that boy’s psyche day after day, until one day he believes it as truth. And they will affect his entire life. At best, he will fail to live up to his potential, and his gifts will be lost to a label of brokenness. At worst, he will fight against himself, until he becomes someone he was never intended to be. Maybe you know this boy. Maybe he’s you.

He needs you and me. He needs us to show him that ADD, or that being different, is not the worst thing in the world. He needs to know that he can live masterfully, playing towards his strengths, and that opportunities open up for him when he does so. He needs to know that “different” can do good things in this world, and that his “differentness” is an integral part of who he is.

He needs to know he is not broken; ADD is part of his unique brain- he can use it for a greater good.

He, and thousands of others, need this. And we can lead the way for them by bringing our own gifts to this world. We start by embracing who we are, then living the best way we can, in our own wayThe ADD way.

As a little disclosure: although I write this blog with intention for ADDers, I use that concept to include a wider group of people who may not identify themselves as having ADD, though they may experience some of the symptoms at times. To be honest, everyone experiences some of the symptoms, some of the time. I write for people who are unconventional, who think differently than the norm. People who want different things from life than the “Joneses” do, but are bombarded by the whispers of pop prophets telling them “the right way to live” (get a degree, a high paying job, climb the corporate ladder, buy more things!). People who want more spontaneity and joy from life, not just paychecks, credentials, bigger houses and all those other things that supposedly make you feel good about yourself.

The Art of ADD can be applied to anyone who wants to live their life in their own way, one that is congruent with the way they are built, and in line with their values.

It is also about honesty, integrity, authenticity and responsibilityIt’s about being you in this world, in your own artful way.

Lastly but most of all, the Art of ADD is about sharing. Being the best you can be is pointless if it serves your own reward. Being comfortable in your own skin, self-aware of your abilities and challenges, and authentically accepting them, puts you in a better position to help other people be the best that they can be.

Which is, in my opinion, what life is really all about.

Please share this with those ADDers you think are awesome, and remind them that their uniqueness is their art in this world!

7 Steps to Becoming an Artist of ADD

When it comes to managing the challenges of ADD, you could look at it one of two ways.

You could try to “overcome” it, to become as normal as possible. Good luck with that one, my friend.

Or you could try to be better at it. Yes, you could be better at ADD. Medication or not, your ADD does not disappear entirely and furthermore, it will always be with you. So why not get better at living with it?

How can you be better at ADD?

In order to get better or proficient at anything, there is usually a process you go through. That process is not formulaic but learning almost any skills requires that you follow some version of the following steps.

1. You start

Well done, you’ve already completed step one. From what I gather, most painters start painting long before they have any formal tuition. You’re already living ADD, so you’ve got some experience already.

2. Learn new tips and tricks

Read about ADD, talk to other ADDers, visit ADD websites (or blogs!). Talk to your therapist, psychiatrist or coach. Learn what other people have tried, tested and found to be true in managing their challenges. At some point, most artists will learn techniques from other artists. Some ideas will resonate and others won’t, but learning (not perfection) is the point at this step.

3. Experiment with what does and doesn’t work

Take what you’ve learned and try it out. You are in experimenter mode here, so its critically important not to judge the tactic (or your ability in relation to it) too harshly. Adopt a wait-and-see attitude. Post-it notes work for some people but they certainly don’t for me. If someone invented an over-sized electronic post-it with blinking lights and alarm bells – well, that might just work for me. Experiment and see what works for you.

In the Art of ADD, this step does not apply only to experimental techniques for managing symptoms. In looking at the bigger picture, you experiment with life itself. If a normal 9-5 office job is clearly not fitting with your hunger for variety and mobility, then it might be time for a grander experiment.

4. Get to know, intimately, the ins and outs of your craft (ADD)

Matisse, Renoir and Monet were all impressionists but employed different methods in creating their art. They saw different things and expressed their inspiration uniquely.

Your ADD is different from another person’s ADD. Pause and watch yourself, almost as if an outsider looking in. Where does ADD show up in your life? Where do you struggle most? Which areas of life do you excel in? What makes you come alive? You may think you can answer this right now, but I can guarantee that unless you carefully observe your life, you don’t fully know your ADD. You may recognize yourself as being impatient, but when you really analyze it, you see that while there are situations that frustrate you, there are others you feel completely calm in.

5. Practice

Try out the techniques you have selected, remembering that proficiency does not come with one, two or even twenty tries. Artists are never happy with every single stroke of the brush, but eventually the painting comes together. Leonardo Da Vinci attempted his masterpieces several times before he got to the point where he could allow them to be finished. Your life is your art, it will take a lot of practice to get things just the way you want them to be, and even then it is unlikely you will ever deem your art perfect. They say that art is never complete, only deemed “good enough”.

6. Learn from masters, mentors, and muses

Da Vinci apprenticed for Andrea del Verrocchio. Michealangelo studied under Domenico Ghirlandaio and Bertoldo di Giovanni. You can learn a lot from the people in your life who inspire you. They may be famous or unknown to the rest of the world. They may have ADD or not. They simply need to be people who you admire, for whatever reason, or people who live life the way you would like to. Watching truly confident people in action may not unlock your own confidence but it will certainly inspire you to find your own path towards it.

7. Find your unique style…

and embrace it as your own, knowing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the true Art of ADD lies in creating your own masterpiece. Living life in your own artful way is your legacy to the world. It doesn’t matter if its unconventional – its your life, so live it beautifully. Impressionism was scorned in the day for its radical departure from conventional methods. Today, one of Monet’s Water Lilies is worth over 40 million BRITISH POUNDS!


Who is anyone but you to say what your art is worth?


Warning to Pessimists: I May Be Wrong, But You’re Not Right

I know there is going to be a small legion of people (pessimists) out there who will to try their best to poke holes in everything I have to say. I welcome critical appraisals that challenge me to think and question my ideology. I don’t think blindly. But some people have a tendency to point out flaws for no other reason than to disagree.

Bring it, I say.

But first ask yourself, why are you even reading this? Be sure of your response before you answer, because I ask with an intuitive knowing what your latent intention is. Usually, it is some combination of the following phenomena:

–        You are jaded about something in your own experience and you haven’t found a way to get past it. The best way to bring yourself up is to pull other people down.

–        You flaunt your intelligence by deconstructing and criticizing someone else’s attitude because it makes you feel right about yours.

–        You are frequently negative, so by nature you subconsciously put a negative slant on things making them cohesive with your view – anything that doesn’t fit with the way you see things must be wrong.

To those legions of naysayers (who argue for argument’s sake), I truly wish you well but I am officially uninviting you from coming on this journey. If you choose to follow along, it is by your own choice and at the risk of your own nerves. I am not here to convert anyone who wants to wallow in the misery of their ADD. I am here to promote, inspire and motivate those who allow ADD to be a part of them, but do not grant the deficit model to govern their entire view of themselves.

But in the spirit of debate, I’m not shy of poking holes in my own theories. Holes could be stated as follows:

There is no science to suggest that ADD is a gift.

Yep, you’re right. There are camps of people who believe ADD is a gift. I’m not sure I totally support that idea; however, I will not deny the fact that having ADD can bring with it some strengths. There is science to suggest a strong link between certain genes (the 7R allele of DRD4 gene) and ADD, and these genes have had a specific advantage, evolutionarily speaking. More about that in a later post.

Telling people there are benefits to ADD is giving them false hope.

I am not telling anyone that life with ADD is wonderful, easy, or even something to aspire to (let’s face it – if you don’t have it, you probably can’t get it). I am not selling snake oil that intoxicates people with a notion of a perfect life, free from adversity. If you have ADD, then you already know what it is you are dealing with.

What I am selling is the idea that because of the adversity, you can bring strengths to the table that other people may not possess. People who are blind often have more acute hearing than others. That could be construed as a strength. It doesn’t mean they don’t wish they could see, it just means they use what they have got to the best of their abilities. And maybe they use some of those things just a little better than people who have all their senses do.

In the grand scheme of things, ADD isn’t the worst thing in the world to have. However, if having ADD has made you live your whole life feeling as if you aren’t good enough, it can certainly make it feel that way. Pessimists are prime example of this.


Playing to the strengths of an ADDer excuses bad behaviour and stops them from trying harder.

This is the single most damaging idea that ADDers and non-ADDers alike have about it. ADD has never been associated with a lack of moral character, any more than impotence has been connected to effeminate tendencies.

And anyway, when has being negative and ruminating on flaws ever done anyone any good? Unless you’re a poet or philosopher, negative rumination is probably going to do only one thing for you – hold you back.

The learned-helplessness model (see Martin Seligman and company) shows that people can be conditioned to give up trying when they believe they are powerless to change their situation. Finding opportunities to excel shows people where their power is.  What harm could amplifying your strengths do, apart from maybe depleting your deficits?

There are no strengths of ADD, only deficits.

Clearly, the bumblebee does not know that it is aerodynamically impossible for it to fly – because it does. Richard Branson was a high-school dropout. Thomas Edison was a third-grade drop out. For anyone to define a strength by merit of whether or not it is normal, assumes that being normal is, in and of it’s self –  a strength. You could argue that almost any attribute could be a personal strength, depending on what you do with it.


So there you go, you now have four ready-made responses if anyone challenges the view that your ADD has certain strengths. If I’ve missed any obvious holes to my own theories, please don’t hesitate to point them out in the comments below. We can meet at the O.K. Corral at dawn, just remember to bring your pistols.

In all seriousness, I would love to hear any of your objections or ideas about my theories, and especially any of your experiences when having ADD has been advantageous.