Growth

Little Digs: Thickening Your Skin to Withstand the Pricks

Don’t you hate it when people say things that seem like ordinary comments, but really are little digs to point out your flaws?

I was waiting for a courier delivery the other day. When my package arrived, I was surprised by the driver’s greeting. Rather than the expected “Hello ma’am… sign here”, he decided to criticize my kids.   

My kids had posted a note on our front door, proclaiming our house to be haunted, or rather – “hanted”. I opened the door to this brown-suited man, pen in hand, correcting their spelling mistake. I would have shrugged this off, assuming him to be a very conscientious delivery professional with a penchant for spelling. But no. He didn’t leave it at that.

He told my kids, eager as beagles whenever the door rings, about their error. And then made a big deal about the importance of spelling.

Thank you Mr. Delivery Man, for lecturing my wayward children. The neighbors will sleep better knowing our house is not hanted, as my “illiterate” kids would have everyone believe. I shudder to think of the whispers down the avenue.

And by the way – mind your own freaking business! I get to choose what I correct my kids on, not you, a complete stranger!

Maybe he was having a dig at me, the idiot who let the note stand as it was.

Little digs can never hurt me…

What really bugged me was that this statement was a little dig – having your mistakes pointed out for no other purpose than to make a spectacle of them. It makes the other people feel big.

But why should little digs even bug me?

Before I knew about ADHD, I thought I was inept. I had experienced a reasonable amount of success in my professional and personal life, but I just couldn’t get it together on the day-to-day stuff like being organized, on time, etc. It was those things that I counted as measurements of my success, or lack-thereof. I cared more about those trivial things than I did about the fact that I had a happy relationship, great friends, and I job I loved and was good at!

So, that’s why I took offense with little digs. I didn’t take them at face value, I took them as an assault on my character. And most of the time, I blew them way out of proportion.

It wasn’t until I had done A LOT of work on self-acceptance that I was able to thicken my skin to criticism – the real and the perceived kind. When I learned to embrace my own values, I cared less about what other people thought.

Sometimes, criticism can be constructive. But criticism based on personal opinions and values, not on general concern for another’s welfare…. that’s called judgement.

I have no room for judgment in the list of things that keep me up at night.

My hanted house is the only thing that stops me from sleeping these days.

Mindset

The Joys of ADHD and the Risks of Being Normal

 

Most of us have spent our entire lives feeling broken.

We grew up knowing something was wrong with us, even if it at the time we didn’t know it by its four-letter acronym. We’ve spent years, even lifetimes, trying to get normal. We’d have been better off to escape Wonderland on the tail of a tardy rabbit. That would have been just as realistic.

What I’m saying is this:

If you are still trying to become normal, you need to wake up. There is no Wonderland. There is no normal.

Why Embrace the Joys of ADD?

Yes, 8 out of 10 kids may be able t0 sit still in class. Not all of those 8 will pass those classes with flying colours though. 8 out of 10 people don’t lose their keys every single day. But not all 8 of those will have tidy homes. 8 out of 10 people don’t interrupt in conversations. But not all 8 out of 10 are great conversationalists.

All of the things that make up our ADD-selves, the part of ourselves through which our ADD traits manifest themselves, those are things that other people (who don’t have ADD) also experience. Lots of people are frequently late. Lots of people are incredibly disorganized. Lots of people are long-winded interrupters who seem to have no point to their stories.

Just because we have all of those things, we are told we have ADD.

But let me ask you this: If a tree falls in a forest, does anybody hear?

Or put another way: if an ADDer is put in an ADD-friendly environment, do they still have ADD?

Let’s imagine I sent you on a little vacay for a couple of weeks. I left you on a deserted island, with only a spoon, a tarp and a box of matches to aid your survival. Because I am a wonderful travel agent, I also informed you that there were wild beasts from which you would need to defend yourself whilst simultaneously searching out a food source. Then I left.

Would your ADD hinder you in any way during your stay?

Think about it. You have no itinerary. You don’t have to awake at any set time, and there is nowhere you have to be. You have no home to maintain, no items to lose but the clothes on your back, and no one expecting you to remember the shopping. There is no TV to distract you. It’s just you and the elements of nature. Your duty is to survive and enjoy whatever the day may bring.

Would ADD get in your way AT ALL?

How might it help you?

People with ADD are often quick to react. They are frequently distracted by all the stimuli in the environment which, in this hypothetical environment, makes them a “scanner”. It’s pretty useful to scan the environment frequently when you need to watch out for predators and seek out your prey. Hyperactivity wouldn’t harm you in anyway either – it’s quite useful to be constantly on the move when you need to survive, or so I’ve learned from the Walking Dead anyway.

If you still can’t see what I am blatantly trying to tell you, let me encourage you to think of it from a different perspective. How useful are the skills of sitting still, listening in class, being neat, tidy and organized and punctual when you are running for your life (or at least for your stomach)?

Yes, of course, it’s not a real-life situation except on Survivor. But that doesn’t change the fact that if you were able to live in a different environment, your ADD might not be a problem at all. Maybe you don’t live on a deserted island, but that doesn’t mean you have to conceptualize yourself as the problem, rather than the environments modern society allocates us to live in.

You know, it’s only been in the last 100 or so years that kids were forced to sit down and learn the same standardized curriculum in a group of thirty same-aged peers. We think that’s normal. But if the world is tens of thousands of years old, and we’ve only started teaching our kids that way in the last century, in my books – that makes school abnormal. It may be the way we do things currently, but it’s not the way we have always done things and it’s very unlikely to be the way we will always do them.

Yes, the world has seen an explosion in ADD diagnoses. I don’t think it will always be this way. If Daniel Pink in A Whole New Mind has anything to say about it, I’m right. You should go read that book (or listen to the audio).

There are plenty of things that the ADD mind is adeptly built for. Like creativity, and innovation. Like chaos management and crisis resolution.  Like firefighting and emergency response. Like, like, like….

You see, when you look at things from a “broken” perspective, you assume that you need to fix something that is wrong, when nothing is wrong at all. It is what it is. When you celebrate what is good about that thing, you find a place for it.

That’s not to say that ADD doesn’t have its disadvantages, of course it does. But there are a lot of hazards to being a genius. And many hazards of being frugal. And also many hazards of reclusive or self-restricted. We don’t have to think that those things are ALL BAD though.

I happen to think that there is a place in this world for us ADDers. Thom Hartmann, author of The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child, agrees with me. He’s a pretty smart guy, so you should believe us both. Even if you don’t agree, at the very least you must accept that having ADD isn’t all bad, all of the time.

Research shows that ADDers have a higher tendency towards creativity. They also suggest that ADDers are frequently drawn to intense, high-demand and high-risk careers such as entrepreneurship.

You may not be one of those people. You may be, like so many of us, stuck in a career that is ill-suited to your energetic, associative, divergent thinking and need for constant stimulation and frequently changing environment.

It’s a lot easier to feel bad about being in the wrong place than it is to feel about being the wrong person.

I don’t have a simple solution to this. Try as hard as you can to find a better job for yourself. But in the meantime, try as hard as you can to make your job fit you.

The point about celebrating ADD isn’t to stand on top of your roof top and shout into a megaphone how wonderful you are. That tends to draw the wrong kind of attention to yourself and may lead to an all-expenses paid trip to a psychiatric facility.

However, celebrating your differences can have real advantages. People who celebrate their differences aren’t limited to ADDers. With the change in the way we think about “normal”, the idea of normal becomes a more and more obscure concept. Once upon a time, the only so-called normal people were white heterosexuals, with husbands who worked 12 hour days and smoked cigars, while their wives baked bread all day and their children played kick-the-can.

C’mon. Normal is so last century. But even last century…

Albert Einstein was not normal. Thomas Edison was not normal. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks were not normal.

Normal never changed the world.

The Risks of Trying to Be Normal

The strengths of ADD are inherent in their challenges. Abundant minds tend to be scattered. Energetic people tend to have a hard time sitting still. And quick-reactors tend to be impulsive at other times. It’s just the way it is.

But there is more to this point than accepting it’s okay not to be normal. You can never get to where you want to be – to get the most out of life – when you are trying to work towards a false ideal.

Sometime, you might get to where you wanted to be. You may get very, very close to normal. And in the process, you may lose everything that was wonderful about you as you were.

I know this first hand.

I will never profess to be normal but I can say that I got very close to acting like a normal person on a routine basis. I got to the point where I was never late. But it usually meant that I was a harried mess trying to get out the door, shouting and badgering the kids to hurry up. I stopped making impulsive decisions and “winging it” most of the time. Instead, I was always thinking about next steps, appropriate courses of action, and reasonable expectations. I lost the ability to be spontaneous.

I became an automaton of efficiency. I was the family Border Collie, herding them all day long.

I learned to keep my environment neat and organized. But I became dependent on it. I couldn’t function in a disorganized environment. I spent so much of my time keeping things in check that I started doing less of the creative stuff. I daydreamed less. Which meant that I seldom had any ideas at all, let alone good ones.

I became very dangerously close to not having ADD anymore. Though it would never go away, I came close to shoving it in to remission. It required herculean effort to be normal. So much so that I lost my way. I actually caught myself wishing I could be more ADD again.

Life was certainly more chaotic with full blown ADD, but it was also a lot more fun. Though at times it was frustrating, I enjoyed living in my head and having interesting ideas. Sure, there were many projects that I never finished. But without my ADD brain, there were also fewer ideas and the projects that I did take on all tended to be very mechanical and lacked flare.

I couldn’t keep it up, being someone who I wasn’t. The pendulum, they say, swings both ways. It seems that my pendulum had to swing completely in the other direction, before it could come back to the middle ground in a reasonably feasible way.

Now, I am living in what I call ADHD Integration. Its where I am able to take the parts that work for me and keep them, while managing the parts of ADD that don’t work for me. I don’t want to give the impression that I can turn it on and off, but rather that I have the ability to switch gears when I need to.

The whole point is that I was extremely unhappy when I wasn’t letting myself be ADD. I was functioning better on the exterior, but I had lost a core part of myself and failed to fulfill my needs to be creative, expressive and spontaneous.

Embracing ADD does not mean that you just let yourself be late, disorganized or dysfunctional in many areas of your life. But don’t try so hard to not be ADD that you lose everything that is wonderful in the process. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Some of the most interesting people I know have ADD. I also know many interesting people who don’t have ADD. The difference is that the people who don’t have ADD don’t walk around feeling broken because they don’t fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants. They fit in to the world but that doesn’t make them better people. It just means they’re better at fitting in.

People who don’t fit in have a place in this world. The shoes you have to fill may not be comfortable but no one said life was going to be comfortable.

Embrace who you are and what you have to offer the world. Be yourself. Manage ADD by all means, and don’t let it interfere with your happiness, but don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking you’d be happier without ADD in your life because trust me, you won’t.

 

Creativity

The Curiosity Prescription for ADHD

 

It may have killed the cat, but for your ADD – curiosity might just be your biggest asset.

ADDers are highly distractible and we consider this a bad thing. It’s not. Not totally, anyway. Ned Hallowell illuminates the positive side of distractibility: it’s just a manifestation of “turbocharged curiosity”.

“Turbocharged curiosity” is the thing that makes us creative. It fuels innovation. It’s a pre-cursor to effective problem-solving. Improvements in products, services or systems only come about because somebody got curious about how things could be better. Curiosity, in many ways, makes the world a better place.

At the same time, it lends to distractions. We get distracted because we are curious – about more things than we can possibly pay attention to at one time. So we vacillate from one thing to another, satiating inquisitiveness but sabotaging productivity and efficiency in the process.

We can’t filter or shut off our curiosity just because it’s not productive. But curiosity can actually be productive, if you use it to your advantage. ADD is unlike most other disorders in this respect. Its traits can actually help you when you employ them deliberately, with awareness and intention.

Think about it. Much of our dysfunction exists only because we were not aware ADD in action until it was too late. We didn’t see ourselves getting distracted when we were supposed to be working. We failed to notice we were talking too much when we should have been listening. We didn’t see ourselves get sucked into the maelstrom of doing “just-one-more-thing”, when we should have been heading out the door – like, ten minutes ago!

How do these things happen right beneath our noses? How is it that we are always off-task, inattentive or late? And more importantly, how do we change these patterns? Curiosity discovers solutions, and not always the obvious ones.

Reverse-engineering the problem, it asks:

  • What made me do x, y, or z?
  • What was going through my mind when I said/did/felt that?
  • What was my intention? What got in between my intention and my actions?

The best thing you can do for your ADD mind is to get curious about how your ADD mind works. You experience the world, in fact – your entire life – through your mind. That makes your mind the most fascinating place in this universe.

The more you ask yourself curious questions, the more apparent solutions will become.

Olivia was someone who, despite her best intentions, could not get her workspace organized. Every once in a while she would blitz it, doing a massive clear-out of the collected debris and carefully organizing the rest into piles categorized by urgency and priority.

It never lasted more than a week. Truth be told, there was nothing wrong with the systems she developed to get herself organized, except for one thing: she never used them.

Then, she got curious. She asked herself some pretty investigative questions. Like – why did she think she needed to get organized in the first place? What were her magical beliefs about organization and what it might do for her? What was her pursuit of getting organized “costing” her, compared the costs of things staying just as they were? And if organization really was so important, why didn’t she use the systems she created?

In the end, it turned out that organization wasn’t as big of a priority as she initially thought. Olivia was good at what she did (graphic design) and the state of her workspace, while inconvenient and sometimes inefficient, did not stop her from doing her job well. She thought she should be better-organized because it was an obscure ideal she held, rather than an integral part of her job. Curiosity helped her let it go.

Adam had the exact same problem. However, when Adam got curious, he noticed something completely different. Adam had the ability to keep his workspace organized and efficient at times, apart from when he was interrupted in the middle of a task. Being the Managing Director of a small organization – these interruptions tended to happen a lot, which meant his desktop would frequently be in a disarray of half-completed tasks. If he had not got curious about this dilemma, he would have continued to assert new strategies for “filing and filtering” his workspace, rather than dealing with the real issue at hand – the constant interruptions.

Same problem, but different people with different solutions. Common sense says “This is the best way to do it”. Curiosity asks “What’s my best way of doing it?”

Distractibility may be caused by insatiable curiosity, but if you use that insatiable curiosity to manage your distractions, you have effectively turned your ADD inside out and used its strengths against its own deficits.

And while it may have killed the cat, curiosity just might have saved it too.

Mindset

What Does Acceptance Look Like?

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know I talk a lot about acceptance, especially the importance of accepting your ADD/ADHD. But what does acceptance look like? More importantly, why is it even important?

Acceptance is a vague word. Dictionary.com offers a couple of definitions of this word, but for the purpose of this post, the first definition is important.

“The act of taking or receiving something offered”.

The act of taking or receiving something offered? Taking or receiving ADD? How exactly does a person go about taking or receiving ADD?

Let’s face it, you don’t exactly have a choice. You have to take AND receive ADD because you can’t give it back. As much as you would like to…

Perhaps it is easier to explain what acceptance is not. It’s not self-deprecation. It’s not beating yourself up. It’s not making excuses and it’s certainly not trying to be something you’re not!

Acceptance does look a little something like this…

“I know by now that I need to plan my day in advance if I hope to get anything done. My ADHD makes me think I “wing it”, even though that seldom works out. Sometimes it does and those times are so good, I wish it could always be like that. But if I don’t plan, there’s a better chance my day won’t go as well as it could. Sometimes, I’m overly optimistic – which can be a good thing, in some situations. But I am learning to become more realistically-optimistic when it comes to planning my day!”

What did you notice there? An objective analysis, rather than negativity or unrealistic positivity. An examination of all angles. A focus on learning. An awareness of how the self operates in tandem with ADHD. An endorsement of both strengths and challenges. A spirit of acceptance with a commitment to ongoing work at positive change.

What you didn’t notice was criticism or judgement. Not of the self or the ADD that goes along with it.

Why is this important? Because ADD is a defiant bugger. The angrier you get at it, the more it will act out. Have you ever had an argument with a difficult person? The more you engage in the argument, the more difficult they become? That’s your ADD – acting out, because it feels misunderstood.

Sometimes, in order to manage life better, you first need to change the dynamic in your relationship with your ADHD.

Some of you out there are struggling with the realities of living with ADD. I’d like to ask the rest of you to share your stories of personal growth and self-acceptance, so that we can reach out and help our tribe members who are struggling! Please share in the comments below.

(P.S. I’ve heard from some readers that they’re often afraid of commenting, for fear that they won’t be able to express themselves the way they’d like to come across. Here at The Art of ADD we promote a spirit of acceptance that allows you to say whatever is in your heart, however you are able to say it – so go ahead and say it!)

Focus

Transform Your Life: ADHD to Zen

 

Going from ADHD to Zen… is that even possible? You probably think I’m kidding. Actually, I’m not – and you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking they are dichotomous either.

Life with ADHD may seem restless, unfocused and disorganized on the surface. Dig just a little bit further, though, and you may find a layer of peace and calmness under the chaos, just waiting to be excavated.

When ADDers seek help through medication, counseling or coaching, they are hoping for strategies to overcome their symptoms and live “normal” lives. What they really want is to transform themselves, to have a different experience of life altogether. At the core, they want more peace and happiness.

Isn’t this what we all want?

But who has time for personal transformation? It’s hard enough just getting through the day with your head still on. Transformation is for caterpillars and Autobots, not people trying to muddle through each day without falling apart. Most of us would settle for just getting to work on time.

We should want more from life than just muddling-through. What about having a life in which we are flourishing and having a great time at it? We assume that by becoming more organized, productive and focused, our paths will eventually lead us to a life of tranquility.

What if we’ve got it the wrong way around? What if the way to organization, productivity and focus was through peace and calmness? What might be possible if transformation was the first step, not the result?

What I’m saying is this:

What if Zen came first and the rest followed?

I believe that complete transformation is not only possible, but inevitable, when you open yourself up to a new experience of life, even when circumstances haven’t changed one iota.  I’m not the only one. My ideas have been influenced by several likely suspects. Specifically – two monks, a professor and of course, a punk rocker. In this four-part series, I will explain what I have learned from them and challenge you to shift your perspective.

What have you got to lose?

You’ve already lost time and perhaps money trying to find the perfect system/treatment/cure for your ADHD. I’m daring you to try something different. Expand your horizon. For now, change nothing in your life but your perception of it. The nice part of this challenge – you don’t need to do anything but think. And we all know you’re good at that.

Transformation Step 1 – Embrace the Chaos

If you’re like me and many other ADDers, then I’m sure you’ve had this experience. You’ve tried countless tactics for getting yourself, your home or your work organized, and no system thus far has managed to stick. It’s not that you don’t know how to get organized, but keeping organized requires focus and effort – every single minute, of every single day. Focus and effort are limited resources and often – we’re just tapped out.

How can we transform this?

There is nothing inherently wrong with being disorganized or scattered. Sure, it makes our lives more difficult but there is no immorality in being less “together” than society seduces us into believing we should be.

However, the problem runs deeper than this. The pursuit of “getting-it-together” can actually divert us from the true purpose of our lives. Having an organized home, for example, should be something that supports us in getting on with our life’s purpose (if you don’t know what yours is yet, check this out). Yet the stress of trying to get and stay organized can be all-consuming, robbing us of the peace we are intending to achieve. A clean kitchen is a nice thing to have, but not something to record in a resume or obituary.

In The Art of Meditation, Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard tells us:

“We expend a lot of effort to improve the external conditions of our lives, but in the end it is always the mind that creates our experience of the world and translates it into well-being or suffering. If we transform our way of perceiving things, we transform the quality of our lives.”

What if we see chaos as the tariff we pay for lives rich in creativity, purpose and meaning – lives that don’t rely on neat-and-tidy togetherness to substantiate them? Let me clarify:

‘Ms Jackson’

One of my clients was a highly creative work-at-home mom, whose creative spark invariably saturated her world at work and at home (they happened to be the same place). She was amazing at her job but her home looked like Jackson Pollock’s studio. And she wasn’t even a painter, so you get the drift…

In her “home time”, she engaged her kids in wonderfully imaginative projects that inspired their own creativity, curiosity and joyful experimentation. But she was always three loads of laundry behind and rarely could she string together a meal that didn’t come out of a bag.

Although my client highly valued creativity, being a mom made her believe organization and “togetherness” were something she should be good at too.

Parenting comes with a lot of “shoulds”, ones that other roles don’t necessarily have attached to them. A chemist doesn’t feel a need to program a computer, yet creative parents are always expecting to be better homemakers, organizers, cleaners, cooks and so forth. When did these attributes become inherent in the Job Description of a parent?

I wondered:

“How many creative-types did she know – painters, writers or the like, that were organized and tidy in all aspects of their lives? And if she had to trade her creativity for organization, would she?”

There seemed to be an important part missing in her story.  I mean – her kids got to school, nourished and nurtured, and went to bed the same way. She loved them and did the best job she could for them. She gave them the best of her abilities and shared freely with them her natural talents.

In fact, they were lucky to have a mom who had so many great ideas and could show them the joy of colouring their world. But on another account, they weren’t that lucky. Their creative mom was always stressed-out by their messy and disorganized home life, because of standards she assumed were essential to good mothering. I’d have loved to ask them: did they want a creative mom or an organized one?

She wasn’t letting herself be herself. She disallowed her joy in creative living by pursuing the got-it-all-together-mom persona. Her joyful spark was lost because she was too attached to the notion of who she should be.

Eventually, she experienced a shift in her perception. In short, she gave up on being a “great mom” and instead became a great “her”, who also happened to be a mom. She let herself be herself.  While she did her best to organize day-to-day life, she didn’t sacrifice her peace and joy to do it.

She found calmness amongst her chaos. She found a way to roll with the punches and think on-the-fly, not beating herself up when she didn’t quite manage things so well.

How She Found Calmness in Chaos

  • She became more mindful, present and grateful for the moment, rather than focusing on how things should be.
  • She set aside her judgement, and allowed each day to unfold, vowing to take each moment as a learning experience rather than a test she must pass.
  • She noticed that, whenever things weren’t going as well as she would like, these moments (like all moments) would pass. Each moment was a new opportunity to start again.

What was really cool was that, as she found more calmness in her “chaos”, she became more organically organized. Not perfect mind you, but functional – enough to get through the day without feeling like a complete failure.

Let me ask you:

What area of your life could be better-served by an attitude of acceptance?

What sacrifices are you currently making to your life’s purpose, by focusing on some externally-imposed standard you think is more important?

What shift might you experience in your whole well-being, if you simply gave up your need to control this one aspect of your life, and allowed it to be just as it was?

Finding Calmness in Your Chaos

Let’s imagine, for example, that your desk is cluttered (not hard to imagine, is it?). You’re always searching for items needed to complete your work. Your productivity is seriously limited by this kind of disorganization, no doubt. But you’ve tidied your desk a bazillion times and it never stays that way.

Should you try to organize it yet again? Maybe you should flagellate yourself with a mouse-cord. Or hire a thug to stand behind you, slapping you upside-the-head every time you misplace something. Perhaps that would keep you organized.

Another tack might be to change your point of view.

A Fix That Fits

Accept that part of your work day will involve time spent looking for misplaced artefacts. I’m not saying that you can’t work on de-cluttering your desk, but you can factor-in a cluttered desk as a natural part of the way you work. You’re a square peg, so make the hole square too. After all, you’ll lose more time in endless cycles of de-cluttering and re-cluttering than you will by allowing a few extra minutes to find things.

If you can get organized and stay organized, you will. But if you can’t, you will have to make peace with your disorganization.

Zen in Clutter  

Allow yourself to find the Zen in a cluttered workspace. Take the pressure off. Be present and accepting of the way things are. When you notice your desk in disarray, take a moment to tidy it. Or don’t. But do not beat yourself up for being disorganized. The calmness in finding this Zen could actually help you get more focused and organized, simply by being more present and accepting of the moment.

Stop fighting the waves of ADD. Start riding them.

In the next three follow ups to this post, we will explore:

  • How doing less, or even nothing at all, can help you get more out of yourself.
  • How sucking lemons is the one of the greatest ways to live more fully.
  • How managing ADHD and living life well is truly an inside-job.

For the next couple weeks, work on your own perspective-shift. Whatever it is about your ADHD that bugs you the most – make a decision to see it from a different perspective.

What are the positive aspects or off-shoots of that challenge? For example, Ms Jackson was creative but that often meant she was also disorganized. What do you get to be despite your challenges?

Your challenges – are they really in opposition to your values, or to society’s imposed values?

What happens when you look for the Zen in your ADD moments? How do you feel? Does a shift in perspective help you when you other tactics don’t?

I’m curious to hear what you notice. And don’t forget – please share your experience in the comments below!

Growth

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.

hi