I’m a “serial entrepreneur.” As a child, I was never satisfied playing with dolls; I was always running one business or another. My working class family did little to encourage my entrepreneurial urges, but then I met Duane, my husband, a true entrepreneurial spirit. Fueled by his passion for business, I studied successful entrepreneurs while working to obtain my Business Administration degree. I launched several businesses including a retail store, business consulting and, of course, coaching, which I interspersed with jobs in sales, project management and teaching business administration and entrepreneurship classes.
Bringing Out the Best In People
Teaching, consulting and coaching were my most rewarding experiences. My strength is seeing and bringing out the best in people. I naturally adopted a “coaching” approach with my students, and I use this same strength to build my businesses, manage my project teams and help my clients.
I love to work with people who break the rules and blaze their own trail. I work with professionals, many of whom are entrepreneurs, artists or leaders in their fields, and their passionate, us-against-world attitude is exciting. However, I found that even with brilliant ideas, boundless energy and a world-changing vision, most struggled to clear away the fog, focus and deliver in the crunch. Eventually most of their big plans and great projects imploded as procrastination, distractibility, a lack of focus and clarity and poor productivity impeded their efforts.
On a seemingly unrelated tangent, I learned my youngest daughter had Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, or ADHD. My husband, Duane, and I learned everything we could about it and soon realized that Duane also had ADHD. We discovered that many of the unique qualities that made him a brilliant artist and entrepreneur were ADHD traits.
Traits or Symptoms?
We’re no longer surprised as we’ve learned that many very successful Creative Geniuses, including Pablo Picasso (artist), Howie Mandel (comedian and actor), Richard Branson (Virgin Industries), Paul Orfalea (Kinkos), David Neeleman (Jet Blue Airlines), Than Merrill (Flip This House), Salvador Dali (artist), Donny Deutsch (The Big Idea) and Seth Godin (marketing guru and author) have ADHD or many of the traits.
Most people are suited to live as a “farmer” (or accountant, assembly line worker or clerk), but some are more at ease as a “hunter,” the nomadic rebel (inventor, rock star, artist or entrepreneur.) Creative Geniuses think differently. Their brain works differently and activates with passion. The self-management strategies, tools and techniques used by most people just don’t work for Creative Geniuses.
Many of my first coaching clients were entrepreneurs who’d started businesses because they felt constrained by jobs, often as a result of their ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). I soon discovered that non-entrepreneur clients face just as many difficulties coping with their jobs, often coming to me only after having suffered through one or more burnouts. These dynamos have the energy of six ordinary people, but benefit enormously from working with someone who can help them learn the unique strategies and techniques that will allow them to channel that energy to produce concrete results.
My Personal Battle with ADHD
I can relate. My own experience with ADHD, also known as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), began closer to home. As I mentioned, Duane was diagnosed with ADHD shortly after my youngest daughter was diagnosed with ADHD and learning disabilities 16 years ago. I knew very little about ADHD, but we soon discovered that many adults learn of their ADHD following their child’s diagnosis.
The Opportunity of a Lifetime, or Impulsivity and Instability?
I’d naively hoped Duane’s marriage proposal only one month after our first (blind!) date signaled the end of his reckless trouble making and thrill seeking. But, impulsive as ever, he was thrown out of the military and roamed from job to job – sales, clerk, programmer, teacher, project manager… and from one business idea to another. Bright and capable, he was quickly bored, usually (though not always) quitting before he was fired.
The first time he quit, I freaked out! I was terrified, because I was still at home with our 3-month-old daughter, wondering how to make the mortgage and I felt vulnerable and helpless. Duane is laser-focused in a crisis (the only time!), and he landed three part-time jobs within a week, but I was a nervous wreck as I awaited his next “career suicide.”
After crossing the country (twice) in hot pursuit of his latest “opportunity of a lifetime,” selling houses and uprooting our entire lives each time, I put my foot down. This was the last time; he had to stick with his job with a dot com. He loved the excitement and constant change of the high-tech field, but quickly became overwhelmed; he couldn’t deliver the goods. He couldn’t focus, get organized or follow through.
Duane was thrilled when his boss, who just happened to be president of the entire company, telling Duane he had a bright future at the company, asked him to take over chairing the next departmental meeting. Duane jumped at this chance to prove his leadership skills.
Then the fateful day arrived. Everyone except the president was sitting around the conference table, waiting for the meeting to start. Someone asked why the boss hadn’t arrived yet. No one knew. Not even Duane! Incredibly, he had forgotten his boss’ request. He suggested everyone return to work and he’d call when the boss arrived.
When the president arrived, he was furious! He glared incredulously at Duane, the man he’d been grooming for big things, when Duane explained, “You were late so we returned to work.” It would be years before Duane shared the gut-wrenching pain of his humiliation as the president berated him. But he’d dreaded even more telling me he had once again let me down.
Devastated, Duane thought, “Time for a new career!”, but I wasn’t about to pack up and leave (again!). I wasn’t even sure our marriage would last… in the few hours he wasn’t at work scrambling to keep his job, Duane was just as unfocused and disorganized at home. I felt as if I was the only adult in our family.
Duane was spiraling out of control and things went from bad to worse. When he finally delivered an important project late (and at double what he’d bid!), his boss was ready to fire him (and as miserable as he was, Duane would have been relieved!) However, Duane’s boss only demoted him, but insisted things had to change. We needed help.
There’s no cure for ADHD. However, effective self-management can transform your life for the better. Diagnosis can help you understand ADHD, but an explanation is just an excuse unless you do something about it. So what can you do?
What worked for Duane is to invest in ADHD training and make some decisions about treatment. Medication can help you pay attention at work and at home, but you can’t stop there. Pills don’t give skills. Even with medication, Duane was still struggling and our doctor recommended additional help from an ADHD coach. We invested money that, at the time, we really didn’t have for the chance of turning our lives around.
With coaching, Duane was finally able to deal with his ADHD symptoms. He was transformed; I could finally count on him, but at the same time, with less stress in his life, the qualities that so attracted me to him became more pronounced. Passionate, focused, creative, exciting, fun, AND reliable… I fell in love with him all over again.
Breakthrough! Duane “cracked the code” of a new approach, working with his brain instead of against it, actually converting symptoms into strengths, and life took an exciting 180-degree turn almost overnight! Within weeks, he was back to his old position and salary and before long, he was promoted to vice-president where his inspired vision and out-of-the-box thinking led the company to amazing success.
Achieve Your Full Potential
Duane’s transformation, nothing short of miraculous, inspired me to seek specialized training as an ADHD coach. I am now a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with an additional specialization in ADHD coaching obtained at the ADD Coach Academy in New York. In my experience coaching hundreds of clients, I soon discovered that the same strategies that help my ADHD clients with focus, productivity, procrastination, and organizing, also work with my entrepreneur and Creative Genius clients struggling with the same issues.
Duane still acts as my guinea pig; I often work with him to create programs to help other ADHD adults self-manage as effectively as I now know is possible, and he supported me every step of the way when I wrote With Time to Spare: the Ultimate Guide to Peak Performance for Entrepreneurs, Adults with ADHD and other Creative Geniuses. Behind every program we offer, there’s a story of overcoming our personal challenges; one of the things my clients marvel at is how I “get” what they’re going through, but there’s not surprise there. We’ve been where you are.
I believe all adults with ADHD can achieve their full potential by empowering themselves with effective self-management and supportive systems and habits. I’ve seen it happen. It doesn’t happen overnight, but with a willingness to change, a commitment to invest in your success and a plan of action, it can happen for you too.
Working with people like you to help you advance to the next level is truly my passion. Creative Geniuses inspire me, and my hope is to return the favor with articles and programs that inspire, motivate and energize you to move forward and realize your dreams.
To Your Focus Action Success!