I sat on a piece of wood. The “seat” looked like a T. The purpose --- If I moved too much, I’d fall out of my seat.
Then. I took this ridiculous pill. It made me dumb. Slow. Uninterested. A joke.
After tests and teachers prodding and probing at my diagnoses, my parents let me live. As a polite, energetic, jump-off-task and come back to it child. Thank you, mom and dad.
I disliked school. The boring reading. The boring English class. And…whatever else they tried teaching. I’m ADD, remember? I forgot the rest. I’m not even sure how I’m writing this.
School was uninteresting. Like a North Korean dictatorship. Everyone trying to make you something. Something I'm not.
All hale Principal Dick!
How 1,000 books, sports, and an MBA changed my life. Yet I’m still unemployable.
I was a B student all the way through college. I worked for our family business, doing a whole lot of random junk. To scratch my ADD itch. No purpose. All random. I’m not even sure I got a paycheck. You won this one mom!
My dad always told me growing up, “If you play sports, you don’t have to work.”
All year long, I was in sports. And I mean, I’ve done it all. Even diving! Until my dad ripped me off the diving board. That’s another story and it ended my 3-week diving career. Thanks, dad!
Sports was my ADD outlet. I would sleep in school. Then use the built-up energy to bash my head, plan to win as a Captain of many teams, go to State Championships, and lose. A lot (thanks, high school coaches).
But as I’ve grown up, two life lesson has stuck with me. Failing is common and there’s no growth in the comfort zone.
And that leads me to the further development of my ADD superpower.
According to some fancy ADHD website, these are the symptoms of “inattention”:
- often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities;
- often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities;
- often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly;
- often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions);
- often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities; often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework);
- often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools);
- is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli;
- is often forgetful in daily activities
If I had a Wikipedia page, that’s me in a nutshell.
Writing this paragraph, I’ve looked at my phone (it’s even on silent), admired a beautiful landscape, thought about how neat the sunrise is in my office (all windows, yay me), outlined a sales strategy, had an idea on a future Skylink post, wondered how I can better lead, moaned at the deliciousness of by Fat Bomb Coffee , and I’m forgetting half my thoughts.
You see. My mind races. Like a rocket heading for planet Mars.
The only time it slows is when I’m exhausted and relaxing with a book. I‘ve faked extroversion all day long. I’m introverted. Nobody believes me. But I am. I never share my thoughts. Thank God we don’t have mind reading devices.
My start to true ADD learning
I decided to go back and get my MBA. I had the potential to lead a multimillion dollar company. I needed to look fancy and sound smart. But something much different happened.
The way they taught my MBA courses was adaptive and immersion learning. Yes, we had to read and watch boring lectures. But we also had to engage with our team, test corporate hypothesis, and come up with our own ideas. It was hands on. I loved it!!
It was in line with the way the book “Make It Stick” talks about how to remember things. To make it stick.
My MBA gave me more confidence (not that I needed it). I graduated with a 3.89 GPA and learned, I’m damn smart. I told you. Confidence. Not an issue. Not book brilliant, but life smart.
I found what learning truly was.
I have to learn, apply, discuss, fail, and repeat. Learning, for me, is hands on.
Since then I’ve read 20 - 50 books a year. I take 2 - 5 courses a year. And I’m always reading, watching, and analyzing. I try applying everything I learn. It doesn't always work. But I apply it. I try. And this is my ADD superpower.
(Learning + Ideas) x Applying / Failing = ADD Superpower
I’m not afraid to fail
My ADD superpower journey starts with me not being afraid to fail. I use to be. But over the years, failure is a part of me. I never start doing something perfectly. Not even sitting on a T shaped wooden seat. Failing is necessary. Bumps and bruises are essential to the ADD mind.
It’s immersive. It allows me to dissect and correct. It’s a challenge.
With my mind, I like challenges. But not the mathematical formula type. That puts me to sleep. Or I’ll daydream.
If you’re ADD like me. Allow yourself to fail. Learn from it. Grow. Be better next time.
Read a lot. Anything. Everything.
I hated books growing up. They were boring. I’m not the imaginative type.
Some mystical dwarf with a magical stick does nothing for me.
But once I learned how my mind lights up with non-fiction, my life changed forever.
I read a ton. I have 20 books I'm currently reading on my Kindle (30 completed this year - 2017), a daily dose of hundreds of articles delivered to my RSS feed from mentors I follow, and industry magazines.
My brain likes activity. That’s my superpower.
I can take in and disseminate more information than most. My non-ADD counterparts. Which by some estimates is 95% of the population.
Many data inputs don't stress me out. I’m thinking, analyzing, and solving.
Put me in a chair if you dare. But allow me to absorb, bake, and settle with information, and it’s game over. I’ll come out with something.
That’s why I read. A lot.
It’s true. Ideas are shit without execution. But most ideas are shit, so now what?
With my ADD superpower, I’m an idea monster. One after the next. Ideas pop up and disappear. And for the ADD mind, this is chaos.
My savior --- Evernote. I capture everything. More thinking. Less stressful forgetting.
The act of having the ideas is one part. Then thinking about implementing them is another. That’s my ADD mind at work. Multitasking within my own brain.
Allowing myself to drift. Allowing myself to think mid-project. Allowing myself to create ideas.
That’s a superpower. Thanks, ADD.
Managing my time
You’re thinking. Time? You're ADD. Is that a joke?
And my answer is yes. It is a joke.
Within the context of an hour, I bounce around faster than a golf ball in a dryer. But, this is what I like to call, strategic bounce. Bounce that matters.
Yet, within the context of my uncontrollable mind bounce, I have a structure I follow.
These are the 7 fundamentals to my productivity system. They allow me to leverage my ADD to superstardom:
- I structure my life to be less ROTTEN.
- I create a business playbook for ultimate clarity.
- I structure my days around my brain's energy level.
- I plan my weeks and days around what matters most. Those 3 - 5 things that have the biggest impact.
- I time block my days around specific topics in my calendar.
- I use a task management software to align my tasks within my time blocks.
- I use Evernote religiously to take down notes and ideas.
I use this framework and let my ADD run wild. I can't tame it.
When I’m deep in a task, my mind will fidget. Or it’ll jump to another planet. That’s cool. I let it do its thing. I don't hold it back. But I guide it and give it focus with my productivity system.
And that’s why I thank my ADD for every moment of my life.
It has been my superpower. It’s allowed me to stray away from conventional thinking.
It’s allowed me to dare to try. Dare to learn. Dare to think. And dare to execute.