Month: February 2016

Successful, Intelligent and ADHD, is this possible?

You are successful because you’re intelligent.

ADHD is not a learning disability, your brain works differently. The disorder shows up as impairment of specific cognitive functions like working memory and executive function. Something that isn’t talked about much is that the ADHD brain provides you with strengths that neurotypicals rarely possess.

I consider ADHD a superpower. Like any superpower is must be refined and focused. If not, it can be very destructive, and possibly destroy you.

When the energy is harnessed and properly applied one can join the ranks of people like Leonardo DaVinci, Alexander Bell, Ben Franklin, Richard Branson and many others that are successful but not as famous. We generally don’t care about the fame anyway; we are hyperfocused on what we are passionate about. It is finding the productive and valuable things that we can hyperfocus on are the key or else we’ll be scattered and unsuccessful. You have already found Calculus, there is so much more. I invite you to find more, it’s wonderful.

It sounds like you’re already using the energy of ADHD to propel yourself to success in life when you mentioned your dream of being an entrepreneur. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that you’ll follow your own path no matter what people say since you admit to disrespecting authority. Do you disrespect authority or do you just question it?

All superpowers also have weaknesses and ADHD has distractibility and emotional disregulation which you write as; daydreaming, always late to class, easily angered pessimistic and sensitive. There is more than enough information on the bad things that can happen. Creating “safety nets”, “scaffolding” help minimize these weaknesses. They can be as simple as setting a reoccurring timer on your phone, temporarily limiting the “scope” of your studies, a group of friends you select who keep you on track or an ADHD coach. I’m sure you have plenty of scaffolding techniques. Become aware of them then develop and refine them.
One scaffold I have is that I try to choose friends wisely, finding the ones that elevate my superpower not exploit or degrade it. I personally like finding a person who is excelling in something I like and I set up a secret “competition” to see how I’m keeping up. I’ve had many great acquaintances from competition. I also have a wife that elevates my superpowers.
Competition also reduces my sense of being a “stupid” and “retarded” person. I still think I do stupid and retarded things but I don’t consider myself stupid or retarded. It is a subtle difference in perspective but it makes a huge difference when I do screw up. I still get upset that I did screw up like a normal person but don’t beat myself up. Sometimes I even find it hilarious, like finding the cereal in the refrigerator. That’s where the milk goes so my ADHD brain says, why not?

I practice calligraphy and copperplate. This sounds like your rhythmic writing. You might find the Mavis Beacon typing program useful. Mavis Beacon | Broderbund | Official Software Site

Join an Adult ADHD support group in your area. You are mature enough to gain benefit and contribute. I get camaraderie and connection from sitting in a room of ADHDers. We’re a Legion of ADHD Superheroes.

For me life with ADHD is terrifying, stressful, rewarding, exciting, and fulfilling. For me it is a wonderful path that I wouldn’t trade for being normal or anything else.

To Manager: How to handle a new ADHD employee

Sticky post

First thing is to make sure your new employee with ADHD and not another disorder or something else like drug use like someone has suggested. Has he approached your or HR about accommodations or does he just say “I have ADHD”? There are many who claim it because ADHD has a good reputation in high-tech and an image of non-conformity. If he refuses to provide proof of diagnosis and treatment of ADHD then fire him.

Regardless, you’ll be working with other ADHDers in the future and you will find us passionate about our work and among the best and brightest.

Communicate, challenge and hold accountable. Clearly defining what is expected and what will get him fired will give him a domain to perform and assist him to acclimatize to the job. Write it down; these boundaries may be obvious to you but probably not to him, especially just coming out of school.
Find out what he does to manage his ADHD traits. If he got through school he already has methods to deal with any challenge you can give him.

I developed a reputation of being able to be handed a big mess and the ability to sort it out and develop a good solution independently. For success I learned that I required a good definition of what the end result should be either a work breakout line item or a contract requirement, and a schedule.

Agile development envisioning and scrums might be a good approach for this guy to get aligned with the team. Having a user story and a daily check-in will provide the “scaffolding” needed to avoid “rabbit trails” and “space outs”.

A quick informal ADHD friendly format:
User story:
As a developer I will develop (feature) in order to (function) so that (stakeholder defined goal).

Answer 3 questions
1. What I did yesterday
2. What I am doing today
3. What is blocking me?

The user story communicates what feature and why which will give opportunity for engagement and big-picture understanding. Defining the end result will help with direction. The user story is aligned with the team’s direction and also describes work for two weeks at a time. Any longer risks getting off track.

The three questions get your ADHDer aware of what is happening now.

I use this approach both professionally and personally. I scrum with my wife over breakfast every morning.

Why I suggest this:

If you give an ADHDer a laundry list of things that are unrelated, e.g. assign a handful of issues on bug tracker, then he may not know where to start, how long should it take, when to ask for help etc. This can be a big rabbit hole and the direction he decides to take may not be aligned with the team’s direction.

The two week duration is also good for the time perception of ADHDers. We have two times, NOW and NOT NOW. You can be firm about what work is being done NOW. Define what is NOT NOW to reduce distractions. Refer back to user stories and the points to be worked on today. It might sound a little micro-managey but it actually reminding him of agreed on work, which you are paying him for.
More things you may find:

Getting him to show up at a specific time every morning may not be worth the amount of effort and aggravation. In my career I did not have to show up at a specific time every morning unless there was a meeting. It was made clear that I put in the hours. As a response to working hour flexibility I happily put in way more hours than others. If I was on-task I didn’t want to stop.

He will have periods of low-productivity and this is the downside of the ADHD superpowers. You will probably be able to tell and be on the lookout for bugs and divert him to binary tasks if possible. I really haven’t found a way to always be “on my game” but have learned not to keep banging my head against this wall. When we are “off” then we can screw up even the most basic tasks. When we are “on” we can do amazing things and it more than makes up for any lost time.

Inconsistencies in performance makes unit testing vital. He probably knows when to be more vigilant on error checking. Be clear on coding standards.
Thank you for seeking out how to work with ADHDers. You will reap the benefits and probably enjoy the experience.

If you have any other questions you can ask me directly on this forum.

One of the biggest things ADHDers are known for is being “on” or “off” with no in between.

Just like any true superpower the ADHD Superpower has a weakness and that is inconsistency. We can be kicking butt one moment and a little while later it’s like we’ve lost all ability and power. Pick any Superhero or Greek God and you’ll find this is also true.

When we are on we are unstoppable and we can find it just as hard to stop as it is to sometimes get ourselves going.

It is important to have people around us recognize the good is outstandingly good and help us make the bad not a big deal. My personal approach is to do this with myself. When I do this I find a heck of a lot of awesome things…except for my keys…squirrel.

Getting Finished: A way to complete things.

For me sticking with something to completion and not jumping to greener pastures is about creating the situation and motivation where the hyper-focus superpower is evoked.

1. Identify the goal and map out a plan and the tasks required to get there. If it’s boring I connect the task to bigger activity.
2. Make sure the activity is connected to my goals, interests, passions and legacy. Jeff Spencer is a great reference for this The Champions Blueprint with Dr. Jeff Spencer
3. Vividly visualize until I can feel what it is going to be like to succeed in reaching the goal. Directive affirmation gives my visualization structure.Favorite texts: Lanny basham
4. Commit to the goal that I get to in that visualization. Giving my self permission to proceed. David Giwerc’s method is what I use Permission to Proceed

Once I have a clear picture in my head of what I want to achieve, I am passionate about it the trivial tasks are no longer boring.


Impostor Syndrome

There has been a lot written about Impostor Syndrome which is where someone feels like they are undeserving or that they will be “found out” as an impostor.

Most “remedies” I’ve found point towards improving self-image and self-worth.  I feel that this is damage control because the feelings already happened and there is already the hit to my self-image.

I wanted to get to the root cause of what was making me feel like an Impostor.  Having to fight the impostor thoughts was like herding cats.

Taken out of context it appear that sufferers of Impostor Syndrome are constantly plagued with feelings of inferiority and being a “found out”.  It wasn’t like this for me and I haven’t spoken to anyone who actually feels like an impostor all the time.

My impostor feelings usually happened after a dopamine rush caused by an achievement or success.  The drop is sharper with bigger wins.  The body says “I’m done”.  It is known among competitive athletes as an adrenaline crash.

I have found that the subconscious can interpret this as “I’ve lost”, “I give up” or “I’ve failed”.  This is reasonable because our bodies wind down after effort the same way whether we win or lose.

If the person is at a high level in business, research, sport or any competitive environment then recognition, victory or success may be rare or lacking.  During the struggles to reach the higher levels of performance the subconscious has learned to interpret this physical state based on what it has experienced the most.

There are plenty of moments where an ambitious person has feelings like defeat after a failure, physical exhaustion, soul crushing realizations, and rejection of ideas.  This this teaches the subconscious “Impostor” feelings and thoughts.

I have developed methods to redefine this connection with our bodies and minds to treat “impostor” feelings.  Using physiology science, sports psychology and non-violent communication I’ve been able to reduce the effects of the triggers and how the subconscious interprets the adrenaline crash.

I will be holding workshops and releasing training modules on Impostor Syndrome in the coming weeks.


As a Superpower

ADHD as a Superpower

I see ADHD as a superpower.  If it is not focused for good it can hurt a lot of people and maybe destroy the person.

Even as far back as 2011 ADHD was written about in the press as a Superpower.

Earliest Article I found on ADHD Superpower

You can become a Super Hero or a Super Villain.  Beware, if you become a Super Villain a tragic demise awaits.

As a Superpower 

My approach is influenced by Jungian archetypes Jungian archetypes. “They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world.” (wiki)

There are 12 types or qualities The 12 Common Archetypes. Of course, ADHD as a superpower, is influenced by Comics and Graphic Novels which I consider modern-day Greek Legends. Think of Achilles who was invincible except for that ankle.

A “Superpower” is a source of great power and potential. Pick up any comic book and you’ll see this illustrated. The superpower can be there from birth like Mutants or Fantastic Four. They can sometimes manifest later or transformed into having powers like Spiderman.

You can argue over whether some superheros or supervillans have superpowers because they use something to enhance it like with Batman and his inventions but he made those things. It is like that with ADHD and what enhances my ADHD is old-fashioned Ritalin. Regardless, there is a power there. The details of whether they are worthy of the “super” title needs a few beers to determine. ; )

The most important part is that every Superpower has a weakness. Superman Kryptonite, Wolverine metal detectors etc… Sometimes the weakness is with their superpower itself. I’ve always like Lobo, I consider him the most ADHD comic book character but don’t know if he’s a villan or hero…

No one is going to say that ADHD doesn’t have raw energy. Whether it is physical hyperactivity or it is internal thinking and the person appears lazy there is a lot going on with us ADHDers.

Here is the catch to the superpower thing. You can have a superpower and not be a superhero. If the superpower is not recognized and focused it is highly likely they will be consumed by it and it will control their lives. Dr. Hallowell’s story of how ADHD didn’t stop him in life because a teacher recognized his potential and power. He is an ADHDer and a graduate of Harvard College and Tulane School of Medicine and “The Main Man”. Dr Hallowell ADHD and mental and cognitive health

There is plenty of information out there on how bad ADHD can turn out. Just search for ADHD and addiction or check out Dr. Barkley. Dr. Russell A. Barkley The bad side of ADHD has tragically affected his family.

By taking the view that ADHD is a superpower I can truly help other ADHDers uncover what they truly want to do and reach levels of success and happiness that they haven’t even imagined.

I would like to see a day where people intentionally “ADHD” in the same way they impersonate their favorite superhero.

To Infinity and Beyond…squirrel!

David Boswell
ADHD Coach
Brentwood Psychological Services

Psycho Educational

Cognitive Enhancement

Superpower and Jungian


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