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Adult ADHD’s Dirty Little Secret Revealed

adhd-heroWhat did I accomplish all day? Many of my adult ADHD coaching clients and learners ask themselves this question every day. Heck! You’re likely asking yourself the same question today.

What’s most frustrating is that while you came into work fully intending to tackle the three-inch pile of work in your inbox, and you didn’t stop all day, now you’re leaving the office with a six-inch pile! To add fuel to the fire, you’re leaving two hours past quitting time. What happened?

You’re “Suffering” from OCB

Many adults with ADHD engage in what scientists call “organizational citizenship behavior.” You helped person after person; you put out fires for your team, you saved your boss’s day and you even “rescued” another department struggling to meet a deadline, all while your own work continued to pile up. The solution seems obvious until we look at why you do it.

It’s All About Rewards

Why wouldn’t you just let your colleagues deal with their own work challenges and instead, deal with your own work? Helping your colleagues solve problems provides you with something you crave. Everyone enjoys accolades and recognition, but ADHDers require more immediate feedback than is typically handed out in the workplace. Positive feedback is often only offered as part of a bureaucratic process of annual evaluations; it’s too bad we don’t do the same with negative feedback. No one seems to have a problem dishing out negative feedback immediately and often at high volume!

How Will You Retire Your Hero Suit?

Let’s suppose you decided to do your work instead of helping your colleagues. You won’t be nearly as motivated to do your own work when getting through your piles rarely seems like “saving the day.” No warm fuzzy feeling and what about feedback? If you’re lucky, your boss has a great memory and mentions your great work the next time you get your next annual evaluation in five, six, or twelve months from now. Not very immediate, or gratifying, is it?

Three Great Ways to Deal with OCB

I’m not proposing you retire your hero suit altogether; after all, helping your colleague also provides goodwill you can use to get out of a jam in the future, that is, if you and your colleague can remember the numerous incidences when you saved the day. You might also enjoy other aspects of OCB, such as the teamwork and camaraderie it provides. However, approached correctly, your OCB can actually help you craft a better work environment.

  1. Identify ways you can be more present to what you accomplish when you complete a task you’ve been assigned. You can give yourself your own immediate positive feedback.
    1. Some of my clients pat their own backs – no joke! They lift their right arm straight in the air above their head, bend at the elbow and pat away.
    2. Others print out their to-do list so they can enjoy the sensation as they energetically scratch out the task off their list for the day.
  2. Target a job that allows you to do more “hero work.” I’m not suggesting you slip permanently into a spandex uniform and call yourself a superhero. Rather, choose a career where your strengths can be put to good use, such as in a customer service role, or researching solutions for people etc.

I can already hear some of you say “Yeah! but…”

  1. You may not be able to leave your job because your family depends on you, or you have great benefits, such as a pension and medical plan. What you can do, though, is ask your boss for more feedback, or look for opportunities within your current organization that allow you to do more hero work. Many organizations are willing, even eager, to offer new positions to existing employees rather than lose a good employee to the competition. Seek out a position where you have more opportunities to solve problems or work on special projects.

You could also take on a slightly bigger challenge that will make your organization a better place to work for everyone. Whether you’re playing the hero and saving the day, or you’re completing your normal workload, ask your internal clients about the impact the work you do has on them, and then reciprocate. Tell them you appreciate what they do; be specific and honest. It is amazing what one person can do in a workplace. Teaching others how they could thank someone by modeling what you are looking for can, over time, even change workplace culture. It’ll certainly make your day more enjoyable.

Avoiding ADHD Blow Ups at Work

One of the top reasons adults with ADHD are reprimanded at work or lose their jobs is for what is perceived as bad behavior. Adults with ADHD are very familiar with their issues with productivity, but ADHDers often struggle to control their emotions. You may ruminate more than most people, become defensive and overreact in the face of real or imagined criticism, become easily frustrated and blurt out your feelings (once again asking yourself, “Oooops! Did I say that out loud?”)

ADHD Makes Me Lose Control

ADHD affects your brain’s executive functions, one of which is to control frustration and other emotions. You may also enjoy the stimulation of an extreme emotion. Many ADHDers I know seek or create situations where emotions run high because it keeps their mind focused on what’s going on. My husband often says that while it’s not listed as an ADHD symptom, it should be! ADHDers are “drama addicts”! Finally, you may have scars from numerous reprimands and put downs that make you more vulnerable to negative thoughts.

Controlling Your Emotions Starts With Taking Care of Your Physical Needs

You may remember the recent candy bar commercial where the late, great Robin Williams played a football coach (with typical manic impersonations of numerous characters) before transforming into the actual football coach once he’d eaten this candy bar. The message that “you’re not yourself when you’re hungry,” applies very well to ADHDers. I quickly notice how much more emotionally charged conversations are in our house when one of the ADHDers I live with is hungry or hasn’t slept well the night before. Exercise also helps you manage stress better, so skipping your regular workout makes you more susceptible to feeling frustrated.

Become Familiar with Your Internal Workings

You can help gain control over your emotions by learning how they work. And I’m not referring to “theoretical” knowledge you’d get from a book; I mean you need to take the time after an emotional outburst to think through what happened. What triggered the event, what was your reaction, and why were the results negative? You can then plan ahead by considering how you could have responded that would have had a different result so that you can better manage it the next time. This is a huge challenge for many ADHDers who, once the emotion has quieted down, don’t pay attention to it, other than to wonder how they can make amends for saying or doing what they just did.

However, if you can practice analyzing your emotional outbursts, you may need to apologize far less often. I know many ADHDers find rehearsed “scripts” that may or may not involve speaking very useful. One of the most common such scripts that everyone has been taught at some point is, “If I feel I’m going to say something I might regret, I’ll count to 10.) The problem is always how to know an outburst is coming before it’s too late (more on that in a minute.)

Techniques such as mindfulness can also be helpful. Mindfulness is not about contemplating your navel; rather, it’s about being present in the moment, engaging all your senses and feeling what’s going on now. What you want to review are:

1) What event triggered your emotional blow-up?

2) What sensation did you feel in your body shortly before the emotional outburst occurred?

Was there tension in your shoulders? Did you feel something in the pit of your stomach? Did your breathing or heart rate change? Paying attention to these signs can be very helpful for managing your emotions in the future. The next time you start feeling those sensations, you’ll be better able to predict and possibly prevent an imminent blow up.

3) What emotion did you feel?

Was it fear? Anger? Jealousy? Outrage? Sadness? At first blush, they all appear as, “I was just mad.” However, you want to hone in on the true source of the emotion you perceived as “mad.” This will shed light on the thoughts the event triggered.

4) What were you thinking?

Events trigger thoughts, which trigger emotions. What belief is at the root of the thought? For example, your boss may look at you one day with a strange look on her face. You might think to yourself, “I’ve done something wrong, she’s going to fire me” and begin to feel anxious. This feeling will cause a lot of tension in your shoulders and a lump in the pit of your stomach, thinking that you’ll probably be raked over the coals. You start telling yourself things like “I’m always making mistakes or saying the wrong thing.”

I’ll discuss how you can manage that thought in a future segment. For now, let’s keep our focus on how you can control the outburst at work.

Crafting a Game Plan

It’s always better to craft a game plan for those emotional outbursts that happen often while you’re not emotionally volatile. The best way to control your emotions is to be aware of triggers and clues that you’re losing your cool and to have a plan on how you’ll deal with these triggers when the clues show up. Most of us have a few options when events make us emotional.

1) You can react: This is of course, what you’ve been doing and you might want to change it since it is exactly what’s gotten you into trouble.

2) You can remove yourself from the situation: You can create a “script” to explain why you need to remove yourself; prepare it in advance.

3) You can let it go: As you become better at controlling your emotions, this will become an option that’s open to you.

4) You can prepare a response ahead of time: This requires forethought. Take time to analyze past experiences for clues. Once you have identified a few clues to help you predict an imminent emotional outburst, you can craft a game plan for managing your emotions BEFORE they occur. Become sensitive to the clues that something is about to happen and decide how you’ll handle things the next time these clues appear. The nice part is that you can even ask for help in preparing your game plan from someone who has more experience and more success dealing with people. You may want to practice your response in front of the mirror or with the person helping you, as long as they are someone who has your back and is willing to help you.

Your game plan may look like this:

  • When I notice myself feeling overwhelmed, I’ll take two deep breaths. As soon as I feel the tension dropping, I’ll make a list of what needs to get done and if needed, I’ll talk to my boss to determine priorities.
  • When I notice that I’m clenching my jaw and my fists and I know I’m close to losing my cool, I’ll tell people “I need a bit of time to think about this; I’ll get back to you later.” or you can simply use an excuse to walk away so that you can “regroup”.

How to Ask for Accommodations at Work (Without Coming Out About ADHD!)

The workplace has become a very challenging place, even for neurotypicals. Maybe it’s always been this way, but with the speed things happen today, increased expectations from bosses and clients and world-wide competition for your job, it certainly seems more stressful than ever. If you have adult ADHD, you add a big bunch of extra challenges to the mix:

  • Inattentiveness and lack of focus can lead to missed details, and make it challenging to accomplish work that requires concentration at the best of times,
  • Forgetfulness has very likely already led to more than one missed commitment and the resulting loss of credibility,
  • Disorganization has you feeling overwhelmed, distracted and jumping from one task to another,
  • Procrastination leads to last-minute, gun-to-the-head, high-stress production to meet deadlines, causing you great stress,
  • Or you play the hero, pitching in to put out other people’s fires while your own work goes undone,
  • and more.

These extra challenges make the workplace a veritable minefield of reprimands and disappointments, but what can you do about it?

The obvious answer, and the one most experts provide, is that “You should ask for accommodations at work.” That sounds simple, doesn’t it? Accommodations have been proven to help, and it’s likely they would help you, but there’s a little problem. How can you ask for and get accommodations unless you disclose your ADHD at work? And as we know, there are risks associated with that.

So what can you do? There are ways of asking for accommodations without disclosing your ADHD. If you don’t feel it’s safe to disclose your ADHD at work, or if you’d just rather not, you’ll be happy to hear there’s a “formula” that will help you to ask for “accommodations” without outing yourself. Use this model “script” to write down what you’d like to say, adapted to your specific circumstances, practice and use again and again with success:

Step 1. Describe your specific struggle and the circumstances surrounding it.

Step 2. Describe a possible solution you’ve thought of.

Step 3. Describe the benefits your boss, your co-workers and you will get from implementing this solution. WIIFY & M (What’s in it for you and me.)

For example, if there’s too much noise in your cubicle farm and you feel you’d be able do a better job preparing a particularly challenging report that you need to do regularly if you had a quiet place to do your work, you would apply the three steps as follows:

Step 1. Describe your specific struggle: Say something like, “I really struggle to stay focused on the XYZ reports because of all the noise in office.”

Step 2. Describe a possible solution: “I’ve thought of one possible solution: when I work on these reports, would it be possible for me to use a closed office, conference room, or to work from home?”

Step 3. Describe the benefits: “This will help me get it done much faster, so Joe can get started on his part sooner, and I’ll complete it with fewer or no mistakes so it’ll reduce the time you spend double-checking everything.”

You’ve done a good job of selling the solution by pointing out the benefits to all, it doesn’t sound like you’re whining… and no one mentioned ADHD!

So the formula is:

accommodations-ask-formula

 

“Job accommodation means modifying a job, job site, or the way in which a job is done so that the person with a disability can have equal access to all aspects of work.”1

Job accommodations may also include the use of tools such as headsets, assistive technology, training, job restructuring, job reassignments or even an administrative assistant.

One of my clients, an administrative assistant, had to review all of her supervisors’ direct reports’ expense reports once a week. This was tedious work that required a lot of focus and some quiet uninterrupted time. The challenge she faced was that she was expected to answer the phone at the same time, which led to numerous mistakes. Here’s the script she used:

Step 1. I’m really struggling with reviewing your direct reports’ expenses. The challenge is that each time I answer the phone, I lose track of where I was before the call. This leads to missing details or making mistakes.

Step 2. I know that I need two or three hours of uninterrupted time when I am most focused to ensure I don’t make these mistakes. I’ve found a possible solution: Could Carol take my phone calls on Tuesday mornings so that I can do the work uninterrupted?

Step 3. With this solution in place, I’ll be able to dramatically reduce mistakes and make sure all the receipts are there and accounted for. This will prevent you from getting calls from the Accounting Department or the company paying out more than allowed by receipts. With fewer interruptions, I may even be able to get it done faster.

Her supervisor thought it was an excellent idea and allowed the phone call transfers so my client was able to complete this work without mistakes. And they all lived happily ever after!

Come for a Taste Test of the ADDA Conference

ADDA-Conference

This year the ADD Association (ADDA) will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary in Orlando, Florida from July 24 to 27th during the ADDA Conference, a conference specifically for adults with ADHD and their loved ones.

I’ll be one the presenters. In the recording below I talk about two of the sessions I’ll be offering:

  • Overworked, Overwhelmed and on a Collision Course for Burnout
  • ADHD in the Workplace

If you’re still on the fence about attending this year, or you know you’re registered but don’t know which sessions to attend, ADDA has a solution to help you figure that out. They are offering a couple Taste Test sessions next week. You’ll hear various speakers talk about their sessions and what’s in it for you.

Click here for more information on the Taste Test sessions.

In the meantime, here’s a recording I did to tell you more about my sessions.

ADDA Conference

I hope to see you this July 24th to 27th at the ADDA Conference in Orlando, Florida.

ADHD Time Management Woes Part 3: Big Picture thinking

ADHD Adults Need to Focus to Thrive – a new group program

by Linda Walker

If you’re subscribed to my newsletter you know I’ve just launched a new program called Thrive! The Natural Approach to Optimal Focus and Effectiveness for Creative Geniuses.

In this video, I’ll cut to the chase to provide you with information so that you can decide if you want to know more.

I’d love to hear what you think of the video. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

What If It’s Not Procrastination?

By Linda Walker

struggling to focusNothing’s more frustrating than to plan to complete a certain task only to discover you don’t “feel like it,” you’re “not in the mood,” or you’re blocked, “drawing a blank.” You’ve spent time you’ll never get back, and you have nothing to show for it. We hear adults with ADHD are poor time managers, but when you make the effort, when you do what you’re supposed to do… it would really be nice if you accomplished what you planned. After all, it’s not like you have nothing but free time the rest of the week!

Even when you do everything they say

You dismiss it as “writer’s block,” or not being “in the zone,” and juggle appointments, staying late, again, to make up for the unproductive time you wasted. It’s so frustrating because you followed every time management expert’s recommendation: you broke your project into manageable chunks, you planned time to work on those tasks, you blocked off appointments in your agenda so no one could ask you to do anything else, you eliminated distractions (maybe you even hid out at a coffee shop to avoid phone calls and emails) and it still didn’t work. Hours have slipped through your fingers, never to be recovered, and you have nothing to show for it.

Mention this to most people and they’ll dismiss it. “You’re just having a bad day. It happens to everyone.” When it happens again, people wonder why you’re “procrastinating.” After all, you didn’t get it done today, so you’re rescheduling it for tomorrow, or the next day. It sure looks like procrastination. And they’ve got great advice for that too! They tell you, “Always do the toughest thing first.” Someone else confides that their secret is, “Always do the easiest thing first.” Another offers the always helpful, “Just do it.”

But when it happens regularly, they begin to look at you sideways. “Maybe you’re blocked because you’re not facing your fears?” Or the old favorite, “Maybe you don’t really want to succeed; are you sabotaging yourself?” Maybe you’d even believe them, if it wasn’t for the fact that sometimes, you’re not sure why, the stars align and everything clicks. You’re able to get things done, faster and better than anyone else. Obviously you can do this. You start to wonder if you’re crazy.

You can’t tell if you’re not managing your time properly, if you’re procrastinating or if you’re secretly self-sabotaging! What you do know is that nothing seems to work, at least it never works well enough that you can count on it.

You’re missing the real reason

What if I told you that you’re missing the real reason for your inconsistent performance? You’re not lazy, procrastinating, or even crazy. You’re not “afraid of success.” No, the real problem is that your energy levels are not optimal for the activity you have planned. Everyone’s energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. However, adults with ADHD are particularly susceptible to variations in brain energy. Concentration or mental focus requires a lot of energy, so if you plan to tackle an activity that requires your full attention at a time when your energy levels are low, you’ll struggle. You’ll find it impossible to focus, difficult to control your urge to fidget and a complete waste of time to attempt to “will” yourself to concentrate anyway.

Most people underestimate the importance of matching your energy levels with the demands your activities place on your brain. Unaffected, the prefrontal cortex can function well enough through a range of energy levels. However, as an adult with ADHD, your impaired prefrontal cortex is sensitive to even slight variations. The effect of a drop in energy is so dramatic, just understanding your own energy cycle so you can schedule tasks to match the appropriate energy level well lets you reliably finish whatever you plan rather than having to reschedule because you “weren’t in the mood.”

Scheduling the right activity at the wrong place in your energy cycle is like throwing perfectly good time out the window. I had one client, Diane, who had taken the plunge, leaving her job to start her own business. Within six months, she was desperate. Consulting contracts weren’t coming in because she was really struggling to complete and deliver her proposals. Funds were running low and she was wondering if she was cut out to be a business owner. She contacted me to help her to overcome her procrastination; she really needed to be able to prepare and submit proposals on time.

Once she explained the situation, I recognized that her main problem was not actually procrastination. It became obvious that because she was unaware of her energy patterns, she was attempting to work on her proposals at the wrong time of the day. In fact, her time allocation was completely off.

In the week following mapping out her peak energy cycles she called at 6 pm in a panic. She’d been trying unsuccessfully for the last four hours to complete a proposal for a potential client despite a next-day deadline. In the past, if nothing else worked, she’d count on the deadline to get her focused enough to complete the proposal, but today even that wasn’t working.

I helped her see that proposals require a lot of mental energy and that she’d have better results if she scheduled this work at a time when her energy cycle was high. She decided to tackle the proposal the next day during her peak energy time, and the next morning called me back, excited because she’d just completed her proposal, with ease, and it had only taken her 45 minutes! She had time left over to check her figures, have it edited and deliver it by the end of the day.

She loved the feeling of being “in the zone.” She got more done, in less time, and turned out better quality work. No surprise, really, that she got the contract.

Most people don’t pay attention to fluctuations in their mental energy, treating each hour of the day as if they were all the same. Unfortunately, while this may not dramatically affect most people, adults with ADHD are working at a real disadvantage when they don’t match their activities to their mental energy patterns. Many ADHDers also have habits that affect their energy patterns, making it difficult to stabilize and recognize their own energy patterns.

To improve your effectiveness:

  1. Adopt ADHD-friendly strategies to understand, identify and stabilize your energy patterns
  2. Take note of your predictable energy pattern fluctuations  and how they affect your ability to focus, your need to move and your periods of exhaustion throughout your day;
  3. Optimize your mental energy  by matching the type of energy necessary for each task to the best time to complete it;
  4. Engage in healthy habits that energize your brain
  5. If you still struggle to put this puzzle together, get the help of an ADHD coach who understands how ADHD affects energy patterns and how your energy patterns impact your ADHD.

Coach Linda Walker, PCC, helps adults with ADHD improve their productivity at work, achieve work-life balance and prevent burnout. The author of With Time to Spare: The Ultimate Guide to Peak Performance for Entrepreneurs, Adults with ADHD and other Creative Geniuses, she is also the creator of The Maximum Productivity Makeover and Thrive! The Natural Approach to Optimal Focus and Effectiveness.

Here’s How I Fixed My ADHD Husband

By Linda Walker

Duane-Linda (3)Yesterday, my husband, Duane, and I celebrated 29 years of marriage. I would like to say it was all blissful but I’d be lying, and I’m a terrible liar.  (Not the anniversary!  That was wonderful!  I mean the 29 years of marriage!)

Until Duane received his diagnosis of ADHD in 1996, neither of us knew what the problem was.  Duane and I struggled with dividing household chores (the struggle was not in dividing them, I did it all despite his best efforts and promises to do better), with our finances and the added pressures of Duane’s frequent job changes as he became bored with or lost his jobs.  Under so much pressure, we fought… a lot.  Duane’s impatience and emotional outbreaks affected our relationship and his relationship with our daughters. The entire family was dysfunctional.

After his diagnosis, Duane began his journey toward embracing the positive and overcoming the negative aspects of his ADHD.  Duane and my youngest daughter, as is quite common, received their ADHD diagnosis around the same time – Kyrie was diagnosed first and as we read about her situation, light bulbs went on about Duane’s struggles.  And while only Duane and my youngest were diagnosed, I think of us as a family with ADHD.  We could only solve this problem working together, and so this was as much my journey as theirs.

Today, as an ADHD coach, when I work with an adult ADHDer, some of our biggest challenges are with the spouse.  And I get it.  Been there, done that!  Being a member of family with ADHD can be exhausting, nerve-wracking and absolutely frustrating.  And I think what I found most frustrating is that I thought I had no control over anything.  Once I learned that there were some things I could do to make life with ADHD better for all of us, the building process began and the frustration diminished.

Here’s what I did to fix Duane:

 

  1. First, I changed my mindset. I realized that I wasn’t the only one suffering in the family.  I know Duane had it worse than me – he was living it 24/7.  He wanted to be a better partner and a more patient father.  Our daughters suffered too.  They saw their parents constantly worried, fighting or impatient.  Kyrie struggled with her ADHD and learning disabilities, and our oldest daughter, Jennifer, felt neglected as all our efforts were directed at helping Kyrie and Duane.  Duane wasn’t the only one who had some work to do, I did too.  As parents, we feel for our children and would do anything to make their hurt stop, after all they didn’t ask for this.  Oddly enough, we don’t always feel the same empathy towards our spouses with ADHD (even though they didn’t ask for it either!)  I let go of my martyrdom and embraced empowerment, realizing that at any given moment, people do the best they can with what they know at the time.
  2. I learned all I could about ADHD.  I didn’t just learn so I could help my daughter (which as a mother, I would do without question) but also for my husband.  The more I knew, the more empowered I felt.  I read books, listened to webinars and went to conferences on ADHD.  Attending our first ADDA Conference as a couple was a life-changing event.  We both learned so much, met other people coping successfully with what we were going through and left empowered.
  3. I became part of the solution.  Duane struggles with several aspects of ADHD, but the worst is his short-term memory, which IS an ADHD problem.  So why was I asking him to do things or to pick things up at the store when he didn’t have a pen and paper or his PDA to take notes?  I also often asked him to help when he was tired or distracted. How likely was that to turn into a positive situation?  It was only when I was willing to let go of the way things were done and turn responsibility over to Duane that we began to make progress.  He told me he’d take over certain tasks, if he could do it his way.  He took over the grocery shopping.  I offered my help if he needed it (secretly thinking we’d probably starve to death waiting for Duane!)  To my surprise, he created his own system for doing it (don’t ever tell him I said this, but it’s much more efficient than the way I did it!) and we’ve never looked back.
  4. I took care of myself.  I lowered my standards on things that didn’t really matter much, especially in the beginning.  So what if I didn’t clean the house EVERY week and cook ALL my meals from scratch?  Instead of chasing dust bunnies, I spent time with friends to relax and return to my family a lot more ready to laugh as freak out at the wacky situations most ADHD families encounter regularly.
  5. The most important thing I did was to notice any positive changes.  As Duane began to work with his physician and his coach, I avoided nagging about what wasn’t yet addressed – change takes time – and made sure to notice what was moving in the right direction.   And I was sure to let him know how much I appreciated it.

There are several other things we did to improve life as an ADHD family.  We learned to communicate better how we felt rather than blaming, and we shared our dreams and aspirations.  We started dating again; no, we didn’t have much money back then, but using Duane’s vivid imagination, we found fun things to do that cost little or no money.  We didn’t get bogged down by social norms of gender roles and what constitutes woman’s work and man’s work, opting instead to take on the jobs around the house that we were better at or liked more.

We even created our own secret language to use discretely in public (I could provide Duane with cues to appropriate behavior in social situations, for example. And he could signal when he couldn’t take another minute of the 47 family members sharing a cabin in the woods for Christmas anymore and needed a break for some peace and quiet.)

And so now 29 years later, here we are still married, and much, much happier. We laugh a lot more and fight a lot less. I can safely say that Duane is my best friend and I, his. Was it easy?  Absolutely not, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together and I know it was definitely worth it.

Don’t Cut Your Left Hand Off

I want to share a quote I read this morning; it is a powerful and thought-provoking quote by Victor C. Frankl, the Nazi concentration camp survivor who wrote:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

As a coach, I work with adults with ADHD, and one of my most important tasks it to help them to respond to their situation rather than reacting. When they are first diagnosed, especially when their ADHD is discovered later in life, interpret their diagnosis as, “I’m broken!” The search for a cure begins immediately. They turn to their doctor, “Now that you know what it is, isn’t there a pill that fixes it?” We are conditioned to “react” with medication rather than respond with lifestyle choices – miracle diets make headlines when the only real solution is to eat less and exercise more.

Even adults with ADHD who discover that “pills don’t teach skills,” and that with or without medication, you still need to change your approach to life so it’s more “ADHD-friendly” perceive themselves as broken and begin looking for a quick “fix.” You look for training to help you overcome your weaknesses by working longer and harder, being more disciplined, being more driven… you struggle with time management so you take training to improve your time management, you struggle to make decisions so you find an expert in decision-making processes, you work with an organizer so you can finally get your files in order… In every case, you seek, and struggle to apply, advice from experts who are well-meaning and knowledgeable, but who are “neurotypicals.”

You seek out experts, but they are experts in the way non-ADHD people do things. What they teach you are strategies and techniques perfectly adapted to help non-ADHD adults manage time better, to get organized and to make better decisions. Unfortunately, when these strategies fail, as they must since they’re not designed for adults for ADHD, you blame their failure on your own shortcomings. As an ADHD adult, you rarely question the strategies, or the expert; you shoulder all the blame.

Sometimes, initial improvements provide a false “A-HA!” moment because the ADHD brain loves anything new, but over time, these strategies cannot work effectively for you because they deny that you are different from neurotypicals… not worse, not better… but different. This is like you cutting off your left hand so you’ll be forced to do things the “right” way, right-handed. In fact, for many, many years, left-handed people were beaten in school for trying to write with their left hands. Being left-handed was seen as being “broken” or worse, evil! However, we now know that if instead, you learn to work with your left hand you’ll have more success in life than if you deny your differences. Why, it might even work to your advantage… left-handed pitchers are often harder to hit than right-handed pitchers.

So if your reaction to your ADHD has been, “Can’t somebody fix me?!,” and you’ve been trying to adopt a “neurotypical” approach to managing your life, I highly recommend you choose instead to respond by embracing your ADHD. Embrace your uniqueness and learn to work with your ADHD, adopting ADHD-friendly ways to manage your life. It is only when you accept your uniqueness and respond to it as merely a difference rather than a defect… when you stop trying to be right-handed like everyone else but seek out left-handed tools, that you experience growth and freedom.

Two New Conferences on Adult ADHD

We’re launching two coaching groups for The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses (AKA ADHD Adults). The groups start on Tuesday, October 16th at 1 pm ET (7 pm Central European Time) and Thursday, October 18th at 7 pm ET (3 pm CT).

For those who are registering by September 30th, we’ll also include two bonus conferences:



Adult ADHD: You, Me and My ADHD

When diagnosed, most adults with ADHD feel relief.  You feel vindicated, that you’re not, in the words of Kate Kelly and Peggy Romundo, “lazy, stupid of crazy!”  But your partner felt relieved too, but for an entirely different reason.  Unfortunately, your partner was thinking, “Great!  Now we can fix this thing and get on with our lives!”  Maybe you were too!

Linda Walker, whose husband was diagnosed with ADHD only after their daughter’s ADHD was recognized in school, was at her wits end when she learned her husband also had ADHD!  As Linda explains, “Once we discovered ADHD wasn’t something you could cure, that it was genetic and permanent, I was devastated!  It felt like a life sentence… I was condemned to “taking care of” my ADHD spouse, being the responsible one, the only adult in the family!

In this session, now-ADHD Coach Linda Walker and her husband of 28 years, Duane Gordon, successful artist and ADHD poster-child, share some of their secrets for surviving adult ADHD and creating a thriving relationship.  It is possible to transform a “life sentence” into a lifelong commitment.

Adult ADHD:  Create Time to Succeed

Catch-22 was a great novel, but it sucks when it’s your life.  You desperately want to improve your productivity, but you don’t have time to learn how.  Adult ADHD has turned your life into perpetual chaos and confusion.  Not a minute to spare and yet you’re never caught up!  You need to learn new self-management strategies and skills so you can impose order in the chaos, take charge of your own life and master your ADHD, but to do that, you need to make time in a filled-to-overflowing schedule. Catch-22!

Duane Gordon, ADHD Coach Linda Walker’s husband had hit rock bottom.  Demoted and threatened with dismissal, he had to do something, but what?  In their first session, Duane’s ADHD coach pointed out that he was trying to fit about 220 hours of activity in an average week (and that’s before sleep!)

After saving his job (and earning a promotion to vice-president), he went on to pursue his dream of being an artist, which he had abandoned many years earlier as he struggled to meet the demands of college and his career.  In this session, Duane, Linda’s Maximum Productivity Makeover co-developer and guinea pig, shares strategies and techniques he used to create time in an overloaded schedule to master his ADHD and take charge of his life.

To register, visit The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses Website.

We Serve International Clients!

We’ve worked with clients in all of the following countries:

• Canada
• United States
• Brazil
• Switzerland
• France
• Netherlands
• South Africa
• Algeria
• Iran
• Turkey
• And more…