Taking Charge Creates Ripples

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Recently, I met someone for the first time, and as usual, I explained that I was a coach working with adults with ADHD. As happens so often (far more often that simple coincidence would account for, I’m convinced, but that’s another story!), he declared that he’d been diagnosed with ADHD. His biggest issue, he mentioned, was that he found it impossible to stick with any routine. He felt he simply didn’t have the necessary self-control.

Take Charge With Self-Control

I smiled, although somewhat sadly. His response, and his evaluation of his own abilities, is one I hear frequently. It can be hard for anyone to set and achieve goals, but one of the ways to make it easier is to create a structure using habits and routines that help you achieve goals almost on autopilot. If you’re convinced you don’t have the self-control necessary to create habits or to stick to routines, it becomes far more difficult to achieve your goals and realize your dreams.

You Think You Have No Self-Control

Recently, I had two participants in my group coaching program, each of whom swore they had never been successful reaching goals because they had no self-control. They both felt powerless, resigned and completely at the mercy of their adult ADHD. If you have no self-control, how can you take charge of your life? Without self-control, you must be at the mercy of some outside controlling force, and in this case, they were turning that power over to their ADHD.

However, just as people have varying degrees of strength, there’s no one who doesn’t have any muscles. Some people have a naturally larger body frame and so are stronger initially, but regardless of your size, you have muscles, and a lack of strength does not mean you’re destined to always be weak. No matter how strong you are when you start, you can train and exercise your muscles and grow stronger. With the proper training, you can grow to be immensely strong.

There’s Some Good News

There’s some very good news about self-control. Research shows that self-control can be exercised and strengthened. Regardless of how much (or little) self-control you feel you have, you can train yourself to have better self-control. Some people may wonder why they would want to improve their self-control through training and exercises, but your level of self-control affects your level of success in your career, your relationships, your finances and your environment (would you like to live in a clutter-free home). Working out will build your muscles, but not everyone is interested in becoming a bodybuilder. However, building your strength will also let you lift your child in your arms, load your luggage in your car to head off on an adventure or move the couch to find the TV remote! So if you want to take charge of your life, you WILL need to develop your self-control.

And There’s Even Better News

The even better news about self-control is that just as working out in the gym to improve your strength has positive repercussions throughout your life, develop self-control in one area of your life and it will spill over into other areas. If you choose, for example, to abstain from eating sweets for a period of time, you’ll soon find you’ll begin to exercise more self-control in other aspects of your life as well. In his research on the effect of self-control training on overall self-control performance, psychologist Mark Muraven discovered that after two weeks of strengthening willpower (by abstaining from eating sweets or performing a challenging hand exercise), participants also tested higher in a difficult concentration task that required a large amount of self-control. Other studies show that starting and sticking with an exercise routine can help you improve your finances, your focus, control your temper, reduce clutter and more.

Look for Opportunities Instead of Problems

So, rather than focusing on the areas of your life where you lack self-control, consider where you do have self-control. We all have habits and routines (and they’re not all bad!), just as we all have muscles. Take charge of any aspect of your life that you can. Practicing self-control will build those muscles and you’ll soon be able to apply your new-found strength to other areas of your life, areas where, in the past, you may have felt completely out of control. You might just be surprised where the ripples spread.

Enjoy the Ripples!

Remember those two Maximum Productivity Makeover participants who swore they would never be able to get into a routine? Though they started small, as they worked through the program, they were able to successfully introduce routines in their lives. Building on that success, it wasn’t long before they also noticed that they were able to greatly improve their time management skills and have a significant positive impact on their performance at work. They’re enjoying the ripple-effect of taking charge of their lives, and you can too!

What You Can Do:
1. Work your self-control muscle by taking on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d rather not do. For example, cut out sweets, sit up straight, take the stairs, or whatever you choose that’s a little outside your comfort zone.

2. Plan for how you’ll deal with those times when you feel you want to give in, give up or just not bother. When Duane quit smoking, every time he felt like having a cigarette, he kissed me instead. I always made sure to comment on how nice it was to kiss him without his breath smelling like an ashtray.

3. Give yourself a self-control break. After challenging yourself, you sometimes feel depleted, so don’t try to do too much at once. Give yourself a chance to bounce back.

4. So now, go ahead and take charge!

Managing Work-Related Stress for ADHD Adults

Most people are feeling stressed, and this is especially true of many ADHD adults.  The downturn in the economy, climbing employer and client expectations, and an ever growing To-Do list, keep us constantly trying to do more in less time.

More fearful for their jobs than ever, ADHD adults often stay late to do their work.  Arriving home mentally exhausted, you are more likely to suffer from anxiety and of course, long hours and low energy don’t help them create with a more balanced life as a way to cope with the anxiety.

This ADHD-friendly success tips will help you manage your work-related stress:

Create a more balanced life
You must connect with family, friends, your community and nature to counter the effect of work-related stress.  Take up a hobby that allows you to be creative and in the moment, yes, even if you don’t think you have enough time or energy.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.  Even though I was launching two programs, I signed up for a pottery class recently and my stress level has dropped.

Keep a positive attitude
Worry, frustration and negative thoughts rob you of quality time and happiness.  Notice your thoughts and ask yourself, “Is this productive?”  Will you solve the problem by constantly thinking about it, especially if you’re thinking negatively?  No!  Instead, choose to think differently.

Here’s an example.  The common reaction to someone cutting you off in traffic is to get mad and stay mad all day; again, choose to think differently.  Often we get mad because that person cutting you off in traffic only reminds you other inconsiderate people or people you feel don’t respect you.  Instead of focusing on you, consider the other person’s point of view for a moment.  The person who cut you off probably woke up late and is frantically trying to get to work on time.  If you empathize with the person, thinking, “Poor guy, I know what that’s like”, it changes your attitude about the situation and diffuses negativity before it can ruin your day.

Learn to be more effective at work
Studies show that ADHD adults are less productive than non-ADHDers because the techniques they use to manage their productivity and their time aren’t compatible with their unique brain wiring.  ADHD-friendly strategies to manage your time and life can make you even more productive than your non-ADHD colleagues.

With improved productivity, you won’t need to work later, you’ll do more in less time using less energy and you’ll feel more satisfied and more confident.  You’ll come home at a reasonable hour and with enough energy to enjoy the rest of your life.  Your improved productivity will also reassure you that you’ve done everything possible to keep your job, which in turn will reduce stress.

Stressful situation will always exist, good economy or bad.  You determine your level of stress and anxiety by the way you respond to them.

If you’d like to learn how you can better manage work-related stress, check out The Maximum Productivity Makeover for ADHD Adults. The next session begins on November 3rd.

Entrepreneurship: Yes, It CAN be a GREAT Career for ADHD Adults

ADHD adults often struggle in the corporate world. Many lose their jobs, often multiple times, because they don’t fit the corporate mold.

It’s little wonder they gravitate toward starting their own business, after all, you can’t be fired when you’re the boss! While entrepreneurship may initially just be a way of creating employment flexible enough to adapt to your way of working, it often turns out to be a great career move.

You minimize negative ADHD symptoms when you spend most of your time engaged in activities you’re passionate about and that play to your strengths.

I often help ADHD adults select their ideal career and we always consider as the following Top Criteria for a good career fit:

1. Your level of interest and passion for the work
2. A very high percentage of career activities will use your strengths, and
3. You can minimize work in areas of weakness.

Apply these criteria to entrepreneurship and you’ll see when it’s a great fit for ADHDers. What other career lets you design your perfect job description and delegate the rest away?

Little surprise, then, that studies indicate a large proportion (some estimates run as high as 60 %!) of entrepreneurs have diagnosed ADHD or have many of its traits.

While some people feel ADHDers are too disorganized to thrive in their own business without an imposed structure, many common ADHD traits: big-picture out-of-the-box thinking, creativity, high energy, ability to think on your feet and make quick decisions (otherwise known as impulsivity!), and a tolerance for risk, are the same characteristics found in successful entrepreneurs.

Running your own business can be challenging, but these entrepreneurs deal with the organizational needs of their business by creating structure, streamlining systems and complete their team with people whose strengths fill any gaps in their own skills.

Many ADHD entrepreneurs are extraordinarily successful because they focus their energy where they excel and get the help they need, and to help them achieve their ambitious business goals, many of them hire an ADHD Entrepreneur Coach.

If you are an entrepreneur or are striving to become one, visit my new site dedicated to entrepreneurs with Entrepreneurial ADD at http://www.focusactionsuccess.com.

Who Are You Not To Be Great?

Years ago, in a speech, Nelson Mandela quoted Marianne Williamson, “Your playing small does not serve the world.  Who are you not to be great?”achieveyourgoals-flashcourse-logo

As I read this, I realized that I do sometimes play small, not allowing myself to be as successful as I can be.  What is playing small?  It’s easiest to define by considering the opposite: “Playing Big.”

For me, “Playing Big” means developing my strengths so my life’s work transforms the world in a positive way.  It means using my strengths, empathy, passion and connectedness, to bring a community of adults with ADHD not merely overcome inattention, procrastination, disorganization and other ADHD challenges, but to help them move beyond “overcoming” to tap into their true gifts so that they too can affect the world positively.  It also means to be financially successful so I can continue my life’s work and be a model for others.

Helping my clients “Play Big” also means not accepting their excuses for playing small or, worse, not playing at all.  Playing Big requires that you face your fears about failure… or about success… and not allowing anything to stop you… not ADHD, not money, not fear, not anything!

How have you been playing small lately?  What will it take to move to your Big Game?  Because…

Who are you not to be great?

Stop Trying to Do What You Can’t

Often, someone else says something you wish you’d said, or (as in this case) you’ve been saying for a long time, but they say it in a way you wish you’d said it.

This happened to me today. I was reading yesterday’s CopyBlogger issue, “how 2 blog if u suk at writin.”  It’s an excellent article for you entrepreneurs out there who have been hesitant about blogging even though you know it would be enormously beneficial for your marketing efforts, but….

This tip really jumped off the page (screen) for me! I hope the message comes through loud and clear for you too! As an adult with ADHD, your life will be so much better if you take this message to heart:

“Attempting to do what you can’t will only frustrate you. I speak from experience. When I was a child, I wanted nothing more than to be the next Bruce Lee. I read every book I could find on every style of martial arts. I attended every school within a 50 mile radius. I went to expensive seminars from renowned fighters. I was bound and determined to be able to kick anyone’s ass.

But I was in a wheelchair. Worse, I had (and still have) a disease that caused me to become progressively weaker, eventually losing the use of my arms altogether. Pursuing martial arts was the sort of hopeful foolishness that only a child can muster, and it led me to oceans of frustration. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I wanted it, I would never become the next Bruce Lee.

Eventually, I wised up and put all of that energy into mastering the use of words instead, and after about 10 years of studying every aspect of writing and practicing it on a daily basis, I’m finally getting pretty good it. I still can’t kick your ass, but I can probably persuade someone to kick your ass for me. Not quite as satisfying, maybe, but it’ll do.”

Thanks to Jon Morrow, the Associate Editor of Copyblogger and co-founder of Partnering Profits.

ADHDers can kick butt!  If you do it in a round about way, you’re still kicking butt. So stop worrying about what you can’t do, and stop worrying about the things you can do but not exactly like everyone else, and focus all your energy into making the most of YOUR superpower. Yeah, you’ve got one, If you think you don’t, some more exploring is in order.

Linda Walker empowers entrepreneurs, artists, authors, adults with ADHD and other creative geniuses to unleash their superpowers.  You’ll really kick butt once you break free of everyone else’s rules. Discover 10 misconceptions that are putting the brakes on your performance at www.productivitymythsbusted.com.

Survey Says… Adult ADHD Affects Work and Home

 

 65% of ADHD Adults say it affects their ability to fulfill their responsibilities at home.

 I can tell you from personal experience both at home and in my business that this is a common problem. ADHD adults sincerely want to pull their own weight at home but they often forget their commitments because of chronically poor memory, they can’t get started as they struggle with procrastination and their easy distractibility means they rarely finish projects.

 50% of those employed worried that it could affect promotion possibilities.

ADHD adults make, on average, $5000 to $10,000 less revenue than their colleagues working at the same job because they struggle to get to work on time and to deliver quality work on time. They lose more than 20 days of productivity per year at work just due to distractibility and poor time estimating. Distractibility made 60% of ADHD adults unable to wrap up projects. Their poor quality output usually attracts negative attention so they are often passed over for promotions.

75% said ADHD greatly affected their ability to stay on task

Today’s work environment is not conducive to focusing on one priority or task at a time. Many distractions, such as email alerts and ringing phones, vie constantly grab your attention. In addition, ADHDers are interest-based performers, that is, they are able to stay on task when things interest them and they are able to work to their strengths, but they struggle to activate their brains activated in the face of boring tasks.

ADHD also affects their ability to work in teams

In today’s corporation, your ability to work in teams one of your most important skills. For many, team meetings or team activities take up a large portion of the work day, which makes it especially difficult to perform well for the 70% of ADHDers who said they had trouble concentrating on what others are saying, and for the 60% who reported it was difficult to sit still during meetings.

There is hope for ADHD adults

Unfortunately, reports of these types of research findings are rarely accompanied by offered solutions. Yes, these figures are alarming, but what can be done about it? Some companies are considering pre-emptive testing to ensure that they don’t hire ADHD adults. These corporations are likely to miss out on some excellent employees at a time when a company’s talent pool is its most important asset. After all, there is some good news.

These ADHD productivity issues are all manageable with appropriate training designed especially to help adults overcome the challenges of ADHD, training like The Maximum Productivity Makeover for ADHD Adults. With the right training and support, adults with ADHD will become valuable employees, contributing directly to the bottom line with their creativity, unconventional out-of-the-box thinking, and their high level of energy and passion.
 

 

 

How to Tell Your Employer You Have ADHD – Part 1

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ADHD,adult ADHD,ADHD in the workplace,attention deficit

This is a question I come across often in my work with people with adult ADHD. When they ask me how they should tell their employer about their ADHD, I usually ask them to identify what benefits they hope to gain by divulging their ADHD.

In a survey I conducted last year, when asked why these participants with adult ADHD felt the need to tell, most mentioned that they needed accommodations or specialized help like coaching and that without that help they struggled at work. Some also felt it was a last resort as they were having so much difficulty at work, they felt they might be fired.

Those who never mentioned their ADHD status stated their main reasons were that there was no need as they were managing well or that it was a private matter and they didn’t feel their employers had any right to know. About half felt shame or were fearful of being negatively impacted. Unfortunately some of those who did mention it were discriminated against.

When problems arise at work, that seem caused by ADHD, require divulging your ADHD consider the following:

  1. Could the specific problem and solution be mentioned without talking about ADHD?
  2. What is the company’s track record around issues like this? Their size? their ability to pay for accommodations?
  3. What do you estimate is your value to your company? What is the employment rate in your industry? Obviously if you are a rare resource with a good track record, you’re less likely to suffer negatively when asking for help.
  4. What is YOUR attitude around your ADHD? Many see it as a mental disorder to hide; others realize that there are some positive and negative to having ADHD. If you are in the first category, you’re more likely to convey this sentiment to your boss.

The point is not to hide your ADHD status in shame; however, there is still a lot of misinformation and judgment around ADHD. You may not have the financial means or want to be a martyr. On the other hand when people around you understand and accept differences in others (no matter what they have) as a positive thing, it can be liberating.

I look forward to the day when you can talk about ADHD and people around actually understand the challenges but also ackowledge that you have strengths.

In my next post I’ll provide an answer to how to tell your employer you have ADHD.

The ADDA Conference: Making Connections

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I just returned from the 13th ADDA Conference (http://www.add.org) called Adult ADHD: People, Purpose and Passion, and what a blast!

For adults with ADHD, this conference provides access to resource people (experts in numerous fields) and resources such as books, programs, and tools. Access to information through the numerous breakout sessions and motivation from the keynote speakers is unequalled anywhere, and it’s also a chance to see many different models for how to live with ADHD successfully.

At the same time, while the keynote speeches by Drs. Ned Hallowell, John Ratey and Sari Solden were definitely worth the investment and travel, they aren’t the most valuable treasures you get from attending such an event. As an adult with ADHD, you likely spend a lot of energy trying to meet “neuro-typicals” expectations. Trying not to ruffle feathers and dodging the proverbial bullet is stressful, exhausting and fraught with pitfalls.

Now imagine yourself with in a room 400 other ADHDers (hopefully more next year). They accept as you are, providing the opportunity to connect with others who deal with many of the same issues as you… most of them caused by trying to make the 90% of the population who don’t have ADHD happy! Even people who came to the conference alone left having forged connections with other ADHDers who accept and understand them. This is perhaps the most rewarding part of the ADDA conference experience: connecting with others who “get you.” Perfect strangers came together and shared their experiences as ADHDers without fear of ridicule or making a “faux pas.”

So often ADHDers avoid connecting with others fearing judgment (often with good reason). It’s simply too stressful to worry about doing something socially unacceptable. However, Dr. Hallowell (author of Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction among others) emphasized the importance of connecting with others who know you and love and accept you despite your “flaws.” It’s important for everyone, but absolutely for ADHDers to find someone in your life who can say:

“I know you and I love you anyway.”

If you haven’t found someone like that in your life, don’t give up! And I’ll see you next year at the ADDA conference!

Don’t Play the ADHD Blame Game

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ADHD blame game If you’re an adult with ADHD, you’ve lived through many negative situations, probably more than your fair share. A lifetime of failures, shame and struggles leaves scars in the form of low self-esteem and a tendency not to trust others or yourself. As a way to protect yourself, you may begin to play the ADHD Blame Game.

When disaster strikes at work, you blame your boss, the situation, the resources that weren’t quite good enough or when there’s no one or nothing else to blame, you play blame solitaire and blame yourself. You’re not alone, everyone does it… in the “big leagues”  they sue each other, always looking for someone to point the finger at.

The problem with the blame game is that it focuses on judgment, instead of learning. Mistakes are an essential part of learning and when you play the blame game, you deprive yourself of important learning experiences. You can`t learn because you`re busy looking for a scapegoat.

If instead you shifted your thinking away from blame, you’d find that maybe you’ve identified a need to acquire or improve current skills, or that maybe you should avoid certain situations in the future or at least ask for help from someone more skilled or experienced. Maybe you need a whole new approach! Heck! If nothing else, you now know what doesn’t work. Remember that and you won’t be doomed to repeat it.

Even if you were wronged, avoid playing the blame game just because it’s not productive. It keeps you thinking like a victim and only prevents you from moving forward.

So if you find yourself looking for someone to blame, stop! Now, ask yourself:

  1. What can I learn from this situation that I can use in the future?
  2. What have I learned about myself because of what happened?
  3. What do I need to do to move forward from here?

And then just do it!

ADHD May be Helpful

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hunter, adhd, hunter-farmer

I just read this morning an article that described a study about the effect of ADHD in nomadic tribes in Kenya compared to Kenyans who are settled. One of the genes thought to be responsbile for ADHD, the DRD4, was found to have a positive effect in nomadic tribes such as the ability to find nourishment compared to farmers with the DRD4 gene. This suggests as I’ve always thought that ADHD creates problems in certain contexts but not in others. Our current work environment though resembles the “farmer model”, which is very sedentary and linear.

In nomadic herders, ADHD may be a strength because of ADHDers’ tendency to be easily distracted and notice stimuli in their environment, making them more likely to notice preditors and their impulsivity allows them to act quickly to protect the herd. In his book, Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception (published in 1997), Thom Hartman wrote, he advanced the hypothesis that ADHD may be the product of evolution where the ability to hunt was necessary for the survival of the tribe. The ability to notice everything in your environment allowed people to find their prey while avoiding becoming prey themselves.

We saw first hand the validity of this hypothesis when a few years ago my husband, Duane, and a group of guys went into the forest in Banff to take pictures. Duane who has ADHD noticed all the animals in the forest, which lead one of the guys to ask Duane if he hunts. He doesn’t.

The effects of ADHD seem to be based on the context. In some situations it can be an asset like for herders and hunters while in others can be negative like in farming and in most of today’s work environment. The career you choose can have an impact on whether or not you succeed. Entrepreneurship is a career choice that resembles the hunter setting the most. This may explain why so many ADHDers tend to choose to become entrepreneurs.

Of course, other factors are also important in choosing a career such as level of interest, and many work conditions have to be taken into considerations. Each person is different and these differences mean you don’t have to become a Kenyan sheep herder to have success. You need to understand your ADHD and yourself enough and put in place strategies at work that will allow you to succeed, like improving your self-management, and adopting a healthy lifestyle.