The Possibilities of ADD


“It’s impossible said pride. It’s risky said experience. It’s pointless said reason. Give it a try whispered the heart.”

As an avid reader and one possessed by the passion for personal transformation, every once in a while I come across a book that has me smitten from the opening chapter. My latest infatuation is fixed on a book written by a couple, Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander, entitled The Art of Possibility.

So far, none of the concepts they have written about are completely new to me. I have a background in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and ADHD Coaching, so the idea that we manifest the world we see through our thoughts about it is not only familiar to me but a personal manifesto of sorts.

What does make this book different is not the message it delivers but the questions it begs you to ask of yourself.

People learn not so much from what they are told, but from what they discover for themselves when they are asked the right questions. (Click to tweet)


The message of this book resonates loud and clear: if you intend to transform your life, you first need to look at it through an entirely new lens, one that is crystal clear with possibilities rather than muddied with thoughts of failures and problems. After all, the authors tell us – “it’s all invented anyway”.

I wonder how this message might change the life of an ADDer coming to terms with the diagnosis. Much emphasis is put on the disorder in the medical would. It is easy to neglect that some of the characteristics of ADHD could actually be employed as strengths, if used properly.

The idea that ADHD could be a strength may sound absurd. Currently there is much debate around the notion that it may even be a gift. Most people who live with it would beg to differ. However, if we play around with this idea, in the spirit of possibility, new views of the horizon can emerge.

Yes, I accept that ADD is a disorder, insofar as the ninety percent of the population (give or take) wired in a neurotypical way create the rules and structures in which the ADDer struggles. However, life is not always linear, systematic, or logical. There come times when a brain wired for obscure, tangential, circular thinking styles and hyperactive, hyper-focused energy is not only an asset but crucial.

In his book, The Da Vinci Method, Garrett La Porto argues that when ADDers are activated and truly engaged in what they are doing, they can apply an extraordinarily high degree of focus and energy in achieving that endeavour. He argues that they are capable of a level of engagement which far surpasses that which “normal” people are capable of.

The drawback – their routine output, the kind that keeps day-to-day life ticking along, is also far less. This may not be the case for every ADDer, but it’s certainly an interesting way of looking at it.

There are times in life when high engagement and output is demanded. These are the times of innovation, proliferation, creativity, exploration, crisis or even war. Just the right circumstances for an ADD brain to switch on and get into gear. Having this purpose in the bigger picture could be viewed as functional. I’m not saying that La Porto’s theory is indisputable.  I’m just saying – it’s a POSSIBILITY…

No one will argue that being short has its disadvantages in some domains. Being exceedingly tall has its drawbacks too. But there could be times when being either tall or short puts you at an advantage for getting certain things done.

Maybe the advantages aren’t as plentiful as the disadvantages. However one thing is certain – when you focus on what seems impossible rather than what could be, you decidedly live in a world that closes its doors to you.

ADD is a challenge. There is no doubt about that. It becomes especially challenging when you try to force yourself live a neurotypical life. Technically, you could drive your car in reverse everyday and probably still get to your destination, but your journey will go a lot smoother and more enjoyably if you operate your car the way it was designed to be driven.

Living well and flourishing with ADD means using your brain the way it is designed to be used. Pause and listen to what your body is telling you. Reflect on each day to discover what you might learn about yourself and what you need to operate well. Ponder how your unique strengths could serve the world. Do this over and over again and the path to a more satisfying existence will become apparent to you.

When you do – you open up a world that is full to the brim with possibilities. And the only doors that close are the ones you slam yourself.


Warning! The Myth About Change & Living Your Adventure

Change is hard or so they say.

I say:

No it’s not. Not as hard staying the same when the same isn’t working anymore.

Change is just unfamiliar.

The experts, whoever they are, say the hardest part about change is the fear of the unknown. There is a supposed comfort in believing the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. Personally, I’d rather not know any devils but I wouldn’t stay with one to avoid another.

They also say people fail to make changes because the patterns they are accustomed to are easy and automatic. Whereas as change requires effort.

What do they know?

Personally, I think the biggest barrier between the life you know and the life you want comes down to a simple human habit: unrealistic estimations.

Fear is another barrier to change. But if fear (or anxiety) could be broken down to a simple formula, it would look like this:

Fear = an overestimation of the likelihood of a perceived bad thing happening + an underestimation of one’s ability to cope

If we applied this logic to change, the fear of changing your life, or really going for your goals, would look like this:

Inability to make a change = an overestimation of how hard something is (or likelihood of failing) + an underestimation of one’s capability to do it or to cope with the consequences of not succeeding

I’m not a maths lover but I do like formulas for the simple reason that they break complicated things down and make them clearer. I like real life examples because they give those complicated things some context. I hope sharing mine with you helps.

I’ve lived across the world. In 1999, I left a cushy government job that paid handsomely for a youngster in my profession to backpack Australia for a year. I’d sacrificed prestige and my rung on the ladder for menial jobs and adventure. Then I moved back home with Peg and Al (as my parents are affectionately known), only long enough to recompense my bank account and set off for England.

After seven years and a lot of living, my partner and I decided it was time to move to back Canada (it’s a place north of the US), with our baby. But the nomads in us weren’t yet settled. We took a detour through the American West, 10 month old baby in tow, living out of suitcases and a rented vehicle. We ate out at supermarkets and chain restaurants. We even survived a mugging and a protracted case of unexpected morning sickness. Two months of fun, adventure, sickness, irritation and quite a few moments of “What the heck are we doing!?”

Did we doubt the decision we’d made to travel? Of course. Especially when that pink pee-stick surprised us one morning in a Super 8 room, somewhere in the Coachella Valley.

Would we change it if we could? Never.

At the end of the two months, we’d had enough. We took a quick trip to Hawaii to collect our thoughts (lay on a each and do noting) and flew home to Edmonton where we stayed. It wasn’t the original plan, but that was how it ended up.

None of it was easy, but all of it was much easier than anyone could have predicted.

The thing people most often say when I share my story is this:

“Wow that sounds like fun, I wish I could do it (apart from the mugging and morning sickness)”

And I say:

“Why couldn’t you?”

Of course you could. If I could do it, with all my executive dysfunctions, any sensible person could do it. It depends on how much you want it and how much you believe in possibility. It also depends on how much you are willing to fail.

The only thing that really stands in the way of living a life you really want is whether or not you really want it.  And what you are willing to do to get it. Travelling across Western USA with “two babies” really wasn’t as hard as filing income taxes every year or working at a dead end 9-5 for an entire mortal life. We do hard things all the time.

When it comes to the possibility of living your dreams, the proof is in the pudding. You only need to do it once to realize that it was your own head holding you back all those years. Of course you need to plan and prepare but being adaptable and open to changing your plans will serve you equally as well.

Our intention had been to travel Western Canada after America to find a place we’d really like to live. But because we’d overstayed our time in America, we decided to go straight home. And because of that, we settled somewhere that (as it turns out) we really didn’t care for all that much.

Still, none of this was hard.

It’s not that we couldn’t have carried on traveling to find the “perfect” place in Canada. We changed our plans to do what seemed like the right thing at the time. Many times I have asked myself if we should’ve forfeited the American trip to spend more time looking for a great place to settle down.

The answer I have always come up with is “no”.

Although we haven’t been incredibly fond of place we are living, it was exactly where we needed to be at that time our lives. We’ve learned a lot of things and made a lot of priceless connections with people we’d otherwise never have met.

And had we not traveled, we’d have rued the fact that we never got in “one more adventure” when the opportunity presented. Regret is much worse than uncertainty or even failure.

When it comes to changing your life you need to have a plan – just don’t get too attached to it. Be ready to change course mid-journey, because sometimes it’s the road you never planned on that leads to the best destinations. When it comes to reaching for your dreams, strike a balance between determination and adaptability. If you are too attached to certain outcomes, you’ll miss what is already there or what could be.

Realize that your estimation of whether or not your dream is possible is the one thing that will determine the success or demise of it. If you think it’s too hard you won’t bother trying. If you want it bad enough to make it happen no matter how hard it is – you’ll do it.

And no matter what, be prepared to fail.

Failure is rarely as bad as you predict it will be, but limiting your life to avoid it is worse than you can ever imagine. (Click to tweet)


Go back that equation at the start of the post and look at it. Can you see that you won’t be able to quantify any of those variables of change-making until you try it?

Change isn’t hard. Staying the same when the same isn’t working – is.

And four years later, it’s time for another change. We have finally found that place where can see ourselves putting some roots down and are moving there next week.

Will it work out? I don’t know. But I can’t wait to find out!

Pass this post on to someone you care about whose fear or failing is stooping them from making an important change in their life. Remind them that there can be no failure when learning is present.