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Strengths Lessons from a 4-Year-Old

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Four generations of my family spent a week together sharing a cottage in a remote corner of Quebec. My oldest daughter, her husband and our two grandsons, Evan, 4 years old, and Peter, 20 months old, live in Regina, Saskatchewan. That’s 2,850 kilometres (1740 miles) away, so we don’t get to see them nearly as often as we’d like. The whole family only manages to get together once or twice a year.

I miss them terribly and so I cherish every moment with them. I was delighted to discover the cottage came with access to their two kayaks. On the first morning, I was up early and following breakfast I jumped into the bigger kayak. I’ve only kayaked twice in my life but found I was fairly skilled at it and developed an instant liking for it. To my great delight, my oldest grandson, Evan, also took to kayaking like a duck to water. It became something we could bond over.

Evan’s ease at learning kayaking inspired this post. He exhibited such clear signs of a strength it was a joy to watch. You often ask me how to determine what your strengths are, so I thought I’d use my experience with Evan and kayaking to share the five signs of a strength. Maybe it’ll help you identify your own strengths.

Your Strengths Are Your Path to Success

One of the keys to being a successful Creative Genius is to work with your strengths as much as possible. You may think this is easier said than done. My clients often tell me they’re so busy correcting their mistakes that there is little time to devote to identifying and developing their strengths.

The great news is that it takes much less time to develop your strengths to a high level of ability than is does to improve your weaknesses, even if you’re only trying to achieve mediocrity! Even setting aside a few hours a week to work on developing your strengths will reap great results quickly.

First, you must determine what your strengths are. Many Creative Geniuses fail to recognize the uniqueness of their strengths. When you discover something you’re good at and that comes easily to you, you usually think it must be easy for everyone else as well. Perhaps you’ve struggled so long it’s hard for you to imagine that you could be better at something than other people. Or perhaps you aren’t observing other people closely enough to see that most people struggle to do something that comes easily to you.

Whatever the reason, I invite you to take a different approach. When you find something comes easily to you, suspect a strength.  Then set out to prove that it is indeed a strength. You can do so by looking for these specific signs.

Recognizing Your Strengths

The first sign Evan was exhibiting a strength is the relative ease with which he picked up the new skills. Like most young boys, Evan can be a bit clumsy. But with the kayak, he exhibited very fast learning. With only a few instructions, within 5 minutes, he was paddling around the pond like someone who’d been doing it for months. And he learned each new technique quite quickly.

A second characteristic of a strength is that you yearn to do it. As soon as he set eyes on the little kayak and saw me kayaking on the big one, he wanted to try it. I know, for a four-year-old that’s not unusual – they tend to have unbound curiosity at that age – but every chance he got, Evan wanted to be kayaking. He also yearned to learn more. He was observing me and asking how I was doing each stroke and then he’d attempt it. This brings me to the third characteristic.

Evan, wanted to kayak every chance he got, and he was always interested in learning better ways to do it. His interest was consistent, and he was confident as he attempted each new technique, unafraid of making mistakes. Most four-year-olds quickly become bored with things and can get easily frustrated when they don’t get a technique right the first time. He seemed to know he’d eventually “get it”, so he was willing to continue to work to perfect his skills.

Evan strived for excellence, a fourth characteristic of a strength. He kept asking me to correct him and would follow my advice to the letter, always striving to improve his paddling, or other techniques such as stopping, turning, embarking and disembarking.

Finally, he gained a huge amount of satisfaction from it, the fifth characteristic of a strength. He enjoyed himself a lot.

How Can You Use This?

As an adult, we are often curious about trying new things but we hesitate. We’re afraid of looking foolish if we don’t get it right the first time. Unfortunately, the only way around this is to change your mindset. Worrying what others will think is keeping you from some potentially amazing experiences.

I encourage you to always seek out new experiences. You never know what will lead you to discover a strength. Don’t dismiss any opportunity – it doesn’t matter if it’s “practical” or related to your career. Any strength could help you in your career, but it’s unlikely Evan or I will make a career out of kayaking. However, successful experiences and activities you enjoy make your life more enjoyable. They also allow you to increase your confidence, which can help you in all areas of your life.

If there is something you yearn to try, seek a way to try it:

  1. Ask a friend who does that activity to let you try it.
  2. Take an introductory class or an online course on it.
  3. Read about it.

If you find an activity easy, don’t discount as “it’s easy for me, so it must be easy for others.” Set out to prove it is a strength:

  1. See if your skills grow quickly compared to others. What more can you learn to get better at it? Do that.
  2. Practice and see how much satisfaction you get from it.
  3. Are you consistently performing well?

In a comments box below, share what activity you’re going to experiment with. And enjoy!

The Single Most Important Thing Creative Geniuses Can Do to Get Better Results

 

Most of you don’t know this, but I suffer from chronic pain from an injury I sustained almost 20 years ago in a car accident. Since then, I live every day with pain. I manage the chronic pain through good lifestyle choices such as exercise and good sleep. Every now and then, the pain increases to excruciating levels. Those periods can last between two and four weeks. A bone growth digging into nerves on both sides of my spine creates severe pain. It can affect my back and one or both arms. There’s no cure for this at the moment.

Want to Change Your Results? Change Your Mind

Why am I telling you this? I’m not seeking sympathy. Many Creative Geniuses struggle in a neurotypical world, faced with failure after failure. At least, they do until they discover how to unlock their full potential. Life is lonely and painful – it is its own brand of chronic pain. If you’re a Creative Genius who’s felt the “chronic pain” of not fitting in, what I discovered will make your life better.

This flare-up came right in the middle of the launch for my biggest program. Program launches demand enormous effort, energy and money to be successful. A lot was riding on this launch.

There couldn’t have been worse timing. Or…? I now see what happened as an omen.

It All Depends on Your Mindset

Like many Creative Geniuses, I struggle with negative thinking and rumination. Every now and then, a horrible Gremlin whispers in my ear that I don’t deserve success. That voice tells me “catastrophes” always occur when I’m taking risks.

But are these “catastrophes”? Or is it only life unfolding? No one is bombing my neighborhood; no tornado is destroying my home. Those are catastrophes. Let’s de-dramatize the problem.

When I’m stretching out of my comfort zone, I often feel I don’t “qualify” for the “Successful People’s Club. Is it true? Am I “not enough” to be successful?

Kick Your Gremlin to the Curb

Everyone has the potential to make a great contribution.

This belief led me to work with Creative Geniuses. My Creative Genius husband transformed his life, yes. But he also transformed our family. And his transformation has affected friends, co-workers and thousands more Creative Geniuses. All by learning how to succeed as a Creative Genius. I wanted to unleash that potential for every Creative Genius.

We all have the potential to make a great contribution. It’s true for me, and for you. “Being” is all you need to qualify for the “Successful People’s Club.” All you need is to change your mindset so you have the strength and the courage to say, “Shut up Gremlin!”

While this was happening, I was reading “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero. A great book for anyone, it is especially wonderful for Creative Geniuses. You’ll find wisdom and inspiration to push through the hurdles you face as you stretch out of your comfort zone.

Seeing the Perfection of It All

The author suggested we face every challenge with the statement “This is good because …”

One Wednesday morning, I called my husband, Duane, at work. I was crying in agony – nothing would relieve the pain and felt vulnerable and hopeless. Duane dropped everything and came home immediately. He spent the next week and a half with me. We often say “I love you”, but nothing brings home that love like the selfless support he provided. I’m getting teary-eyed as I write this.

I had no choice but to rely on other people for everything. There were people counting on my program and I could no longer deliver, not on my own. Duane and my assistant, Kelly, worked together to support me and to run the launch. With my support system in place and medication for pain, I was able to complete the last video.

It was terrible. It looked like I felt. I couldn’t think straight, I didn’t have my usual energy. I hated it, but I knew it was the best I could do. As I watched it, my inner perfectionist struggled to release it.

This is Good Because…

Despite that lousy last video, I enrolled twice as many participants as my previous record! The statement, “This is good because…” was challenging. But demanding an answer no matter what obstacle I faced that transformed my mindset. That’s what allowed me to push through instead of giving up.

Looking back now, I still ask that question. And I like the answers! This is good because…

  • I (finally!) realize I don’t have to do everything myself. I can rely on others to help me.
  • I discovered I’m a badass! I can persevere in the face of any adversity, as long as I adopt the right mindset.

How Can You Use This?

  1. Live full out. You have much to contribute to this world. The world works best when we all enjoy our lives, when we do what we love, when we are our true selves… masterpieces trying to shine through.
  2. Reaching your full potential will demand you get out of your comfort zone. It’ll be scary… ok, terrifying! But if you push through despite the struggles, know you are growing into a better version of yourself.
  3. When faced with adversity, finish this statement: “This is good because…

Top 3 Strategies to Conquer Overwhelm

“I was running around, jumping from one task to another… as soon as I started something, I’d realize I was forgetting another task, so I’d jump on it. I was frazzled and then I realized I was getting nowhere!”

This was how my client, Chris described the moments leading to his near-breakdown. He was suffering a massive case of overwhelm.

“I lost it. I completely zoned out, paralyzed by this overwhelming feeling that everything was out of control. The phone was ringing, emails kept coming in, proposals needed my attention and I just couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. I felt this sense of doom.

“What’s worse,” he continued, “is that I have been having more of these episodes lately and I have no idea what to do.”

What Chris was describing is known as overwhelm. It happens to many of my clients, and as Chris discovered, unless things change, it’ll keep happening. If you tackle your work and your life the same way, you’ll get the same results, day after day… after day.

In this video, discover the 3 top strategies for stopping the cycle of overwhelm, strategies you can implement right now.

Facebook Live Event: Top 3 Strategies for Stopping Overwhelm

What: Facebook Live Event

When: Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 at 8 pm EST (New York time).

Where: on Facebook Live Click here to get notification

“I was running around, jumping from one task to another… as soon as I started something, I’d realize I was forgetting another task, so I’d jump on it. I was frazzled and then I realized I was getting nowhere!”

This was how my client, Chris described the moments leading to his near-breakdown. He was suffering a massive case of overwhelm.

“I lost it. I completely zoned out, paralyzed by this overwhelming feeling that everything was out of control. The phone was ringing, emails kept coming in, proposals needed my attention and I just couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. I felt this sense of doom.

“What’s worse,” he continued, “is that I have been having more of these episodes lately and I have no idea what to do.”

What Chris was describing is known as overwhelm. It happens to many of my clients, and as Chris discovered, unless things change, it’ll keep happening. If you tackle your work and your life the same way, you’ll get the same results, day after day… after day.

In this Facebook Live session, discover the 3 top strategies for stopping the cycle of overwhelm, strategies you can implement right now.

Like the Event and the following Page: CreativeGeniusCoach Page

How to Succeed Without Willpower

Have you ever wondered if you were one of the few who doesn’t have any discipline or willpower? If so, how can you succeed when most goals worth accessing require a certain amount of persistence?

  • 27% of stressed out people state that a lack of willpower stopped a change they wanted to achieve
  • Studies show that people with more self-control, or willpower, do better in life
  • Creative Geniuses appear to have less willpower than most because of different brain wiring
  • The more you have to use willpower in the day, the more your “bank of willpower” gets depleted and you have less willpower – it leads to more decision fatigue
  • You deplete your willpower far less if you are in a positive mood, have a strong belief that persistence will lead to success and have a good overall attitude
  • Willpower can be strengthened through practice and using strategies such as avoiding
  • Use implementation intention if / then statements to manage persistence and obstacles to persistence,
    • for example, if you chose to write every morning at 6 am you can state and make arrangements to, as Mary did, “if it’s 6 am, then I’ll be writing”.
    • If you can anticipate obstacles you can state something like, “if my friends call when I had planned to write, then I will let them know I can’t talk to them right now, but will quickly schedule a time for me to call/ or I won’t answer the call”
  • Steady blood glucose increases motivation – avoid sugar rushes or starving yourself
  • Start with one small goal – break down a large goal into smaller tasks that can be done in the time you’ve set aside

Best Strategy to Avoid Having to Deal with Willpower: Create Habits

  • They reduce decisions so they keep decision fatigue at bay
  • They free up limited brain energy for more important and creative tasks
  • Start with the one-pound (or half-kilogram) habit and build your habit muscle to avoid having to rely solely on willpower

Help! I Have no Willpower! How to Survive Without It.

willpower“I just don’t seem to have enough discipline, she exclaimed face in her hands. Every week I try to set aside time so I can write but it never happens. I end up checking emails even though I vow never to check them when it’s writing time. My husband now rolls his eyes every time I talk about writing my book and it hurts that he doesn’t believe me, but I don’t blame him. I don’t believe ME. Is it my ADHD that’s stopping me or do I simply lack willpower?”

Mary, a creative genius I was coaching to help her tap into her creativity and overcome her ADHD, had been trying to write a book she had floating around in her head for five years, but was getting nowhere. Yes, her ADHD made her more impulsive than most but it wasn’t the whole story. Willpower is a finite resource and to achieve a dream, you’ve got to go beyond the “buckle down and just do it approach.”

In this Facebook Live session, I’ll share the strategies Mary used to finally get her book written, and how you can use those same strategies to accomplish anything you want!

Monday, March 13th at 12:15 pm EST

Like my page or confirm interest in this event.

Goal Setting for Creative Geniuses: Reaching Goals Without Willpower

This is the third part of my three-part series on Goal Setting for Creative Geniuses. In the first lesson of the series, we discussed the importance of the big WHY, your reason for wanting to achieve this goal. In the second lesson, we looked at how you can improve your chances of making progress by taking consistent actions that lead to results. In this lesson, I’ll share a model you can use to turn results-driven routines into habits so powerful you’ll practically be able to achieve your goals in your sleep! (Well, almost.)

As we’ve seen, it’s much easier to reach goals using small consistent actions than it is to try to do everything at once. If you were able to make those small consistent actions without thinking about them, you wouldn’t need willpower to reach your goal. The way to do this is to turn those routines, the small consistent actions that move you toward your goal into a habit.

Let’s look at how to do that. Turning those actions into a habit requires three components: a trigger, a routine and a reward. Let’s dive into each of these elements. A trigger is an event that occurs in your environment that tells you it’s time to start the routine. A routine is simply a series of steps that when completed in the same order allow you to reach a consistent result. The reward, of course, is a motivator – it can be external to the routine or integral to it.

So let’s look at an example of the “habit loop.” When you are hungry, your stomach growls (the trigger), you raid your pantry or the staffroom refrigerator for food, heat it up and eat it (all these steps are the routine) and your hunger is abated (the reward).

Let’s apply this same model to a goal you might want to reach: Getting in shape.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s much easier to reach this goal through a series of consistent actions, such as exercising every day, than it is to do it all at once. You can’t get to the Olympics by being a couch potato for three years and then working non-stop for the last year!

Step 1: Consider the routine first. When you apply this strategy to reach goals such as getting in shape by exercising every day, you’ll always want to look at the routine first. In this case, let’s say you decide you want to run for 30 minutes every morning before work. If you haven’t run in a while, you might need to start with running 5 minutes a day.

Step 2: Identify a trigger that will remind you it’s time to put on your runners and pound the pavement. Triggers can be auditory cues such as reminders or alerts on your phone, visual cues such as keeping your runners next to your bed so your feet hit your shoes first when you wake up. A trigger can also be an event such as waking up or eating breakfast. Choose one or more triggers to see what works best for you. You decide to set your alarm an hour before you usually wake up and to put your shoes next to your bed.

Step 3: Determine how you will stay motivated to continue. ”Ideally the reward comes naturally as a result of the routine. In this case, feeling healthy is its own reward, but you may need to spice things up, at least until you start feeling the health benefits of running. You may decide to reward yourself with a small piece of dark chocolate (my favorite!), read a magazine you enjoy, watch a couple of cat videos on YouTube, spend time with friends, etc. The key is that the reward must be motivating for you. Eventually, these three elements will be linked in your mind so that the trigger will not only remind you of the routine but also of the promise of the reward you’ll get from completing the routine.

One client who works in real estate wanted to increase his listings. He decided to use the Habit Loop to help make it happen. He chose his trigger as an appointment he had twice a week with a junior real estate agent he wanted to mentor to make calls.

The routine that would lead to more listings was to call more prospects, among other things. However, he struggled to get this done, so he looked at a reward that might help motivate him.
His reward initially was to have several prospective listings to visit. His ultimate reward was to increase his standing in the real estate brokerage firm he was associated with.

The Habit Loop works for everyone, but as a creative genius, just remember that your rewards need to occur relatively quickly after completion of the routine.

How You Can Use This

So now your it’s your turn. What results are you looking for?

Step 1: What is a routine that will help you progress toward that result?

Step 2: What trigger can you use to set the routine in motion?

Step 3: What reward will you get?
Will it be intrinsic to the routine or will you create an artificial one while you wait for your desired results? (To play it safe, use both!)

Once you’ve established a strong Habit Loop, you can count on reaching your goal automatically. You won’t need to think about it, and it really will feel like you could succeed in your sleep! Master the power of the Habit Loop and you’ll be able to easily achieve goals you once thought were out of your reach.

Rick Green of TotallyADD Talks About His Challenges with Focus

Rick Green, creator of the TotallyADD.com Website and of several documentaries, including the notable, ADD and Loving It, talks about his struggles with inattention, how it affected his productivity, how he improved his ability to focus, and a surprising outcome.

Interview with Rick Green on the Focus to Freedom Blueprint Mastery program from Linda Walker on Vimeo.

Facebook Live Event: ADHD, Forget Anything?

On Tuesday, October 18th at 8 pm EST (5 pm PST), I’ll be holding a Facebook Live Event on my Facebook page.

ADHDers struggle with remembering information they received moments before, this is a little-known fact but a major issue

ADHDers struggle with remembering information they received moments before, this is a little-known fact but a major issue

During this 45- to 60-minute live Facebook session, I will explain the root causes of the challenges ADHDers face with their memory, the negative impacts it has on your life and I’ll provide 5 strategies to overcome it and its frustrating impacts.

I’ll even let you in on what completely changed my view of ADHD in my husband and my personal experience with ADHD.

When: Tuesday, October 18th at 8 pm EST (5 pm PST)

Where: My Facebook Page

Join me if you or someone you love struggles with ADHD by responding to the Facebook event ADHD, Forget Anything?

 

When Organizing Sparks Joy (Through the ADHD Lens)

Some of you may not know this but my youngest daughter moved out on her own last year. Kyrie struggles with ADHD and severe learning disabilities. To make matters worse, like many ADHDers, she has very low motivation from low levels of dopamine in her brain.

As a result, her apartment looks like a tornado just went through it. She doesn’t like to stay in her apartment when she’s not at work because it distracts her; she’s unable to relax and it’s far from a calming environment, so she goes out and spends money she doesn’t have just to stay away from that demoralising environment.

I’ve offered to help her get organized, but she has never been interested because she knows it won’t be all that enjoyable. Recently, I came across an interesting approach to organizing proposed by Marie Kondo, a Japanese woman who has written a couple books on the subject based on her work helping organize people’s homes in Japan.  I read her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, in hopes that her method could help my readers with ADHD. While some of the strategies are far from being ADHD friendly, there are some strategies that, I believe, are promising.

It’s a Two Step Process

Step 1: Discard then Step 2: decide where to store: The first strategy is to discard. I believe that the fewer items you have, the less you have to manage.  (This is why businesses hold big sales BEFORE they do inventory- fewer things to count!)

Tackle one category of things at a time: Kondo advocates gathering all items in one category in the same place before you begin and she means everything (but, remember, only in one category at a time) – this gives you a better idea of what you own.  She recommends you:

  • Start with clothes – that includes accessories, socks, shoes, belts and outdoor apparel such as mitts and scarves
  • Then move to books
  • Documents and various papers
  • Miscellaneous
  • And finish with mementos (the things you keep that have no purpose except to remind of you something) – they’re the hardest to deal with because of the sentimental value.

This doesn’t sound much different than other approaches so far, but when I spoke to Kyrie about the part I loved the most about this method, she was intrigued and eager to try it out.

Finding the Joy

Kondo insists her clients take each item in their hands and ask themselves: “Does this spark joy?” If it does not, thank it for either giving you joy when you bought it or for teaching you what doesn’t suit you, and then discard it for good. So last Sunday afternoon, Kyrie and I gathered every article of clothing in her apartment, put them on her made bed, and divided them into sub-categories such as:

  • Tops
  • Bottoms (including shorts, pants and skirts)
  • Dresses
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Purses
  • Accessories
  • Shoes
  • Outerwear

Then, starting with tops, Kyrie picked up each item and asked the question “Does this spark joy?” Anything that didn’t, we put in a bag to give to Goodwill or, if it was damaged, into the garbage it went.

It was amazingly easy for her to make the decision because the contrast in her mood when she picked up an item that sparked joy compared to when it didn’t was so great. She’d exclaim “Mom, I just feel so beautiful when I wear this” or “I just love, LOVE this color on me”.  She didn’t have to convince me that she should keep it. I could see the joy on her face.

Some Items Are Heavy

Some items didn’t spark joy; they sparked guilt. These were often items she kept because they had been gifts from me or her sister. They had served their purpose, but she kept them because they came from people she loves and she didn’t want to disappoint or hurt us. I encouraged her to thank those items for the love they represented and then let them go.

In no time, we plowed through all her clothing. As we completed each category of clothing, Kyrie decided where to store that category and we folded each item.

Folding For the ADHD Brain

folded

folded

Out of sight, out of mind; ADHDers quickly forget about things they don’t see. So if you know that if you don’t see something, you forget about it, why on Earth would you fold your clothes and store them one on top of the other in a drawer, or, as many of you do, shove them, unfolded, in your dresser?

If an item sparks joy, you want to be able to see it when you open your dresser. So Kondo recommends that you fold all your items so they are stored vertically in a way that allows you to see every piece when you open the drawer.

Rolled

Rolled

You don’t want everything to get wrinkled – who has time to iron everything before you put it on – but rolling the clothes keeps them visible and prevents them from getting wrinkled. Kyrie and I folded the clothes two or three times lengthwise, then, being careful to remove the creases, we rolled them up and placed them in the drawer.

Within two hours (and we took a break to go shopping for a few supplies in the middle), we were done.  I was so inspired by this approach, I started to implement it with my own clothes. I’ve included pictures of my drawers so you can see what it looks like.

Is This Sustainable?

Kyrie brings her laundry to my house once a week to save on laundromat fees, so a new habit she will start implementing (and I’ll help her by doing it too), is that as we are passing time together, she’ll roll up her clothes before she leaves and then put them away as soon as she gets home.

I’ve tried both rolling and folding and I like the effects of the folding better and it didn’t take much more time. Marie Kondo explains in one of her Youtube videos how to fold.

What About You?

Do all your clothes spark joy? If not, thank them and get rid of them. If you haven’t worn something for a long time, is it because you’ve forgotten about it? Or is there guilt associated with it? Get rid of it and allow it to spark joy in someone else.

Want To Give It A Try?

  1. Make your bed
  2. Gather all your articles of clothing and place them on your bed (and I mean everything!)
  3. Divide them into categories as I mentioned (see the list above)
  4. Then tackle one pile at a time; hold each item in your hand and ask “Does this spark joy?”
  5. After each type of clothing (tops for example) is sorted, roll up the ones you’re keeping (blouses and dresses should probably be hung up) and put them away where you’ve chosen to store them.

 

Here’s how to fold like Marie Kondo: https://youtu.be/Lpc5_1896ro

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