Achieving Success with ADD

I have a friend who is highly creative, and there seems to be no stoppage to his original ideas. Whereas most creative individuals have a bucket of creative ideas, my friend has a bottomless well where he can retrieve the divine H2O at will.

Interestingly, creativity is a common characteristic of people with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

In my work, I help a number of students with ADD. Outside of my work, I interact with a number of people with ADD. Although I do not have ADD myself, I do have a limited attention span and am easily distracted.

Here are two things I’ve discovered about successful individuals with ADD:

First, they own their ADD. Rather than use it as an excuse, they understand and recognize some of their challenges and develop workarounds. For example, if they have a tendency to forget appointments, they use electronic reminders. If they often lose things like their keys or phone, they designate a specific place for them.

Second, they embrace their strengths. Many people focus on the negatives associated with ADD such as distractibility, impulsivity, or forgetfulness. Successful individuals with ADD, however, not only develop workarounds to compensate for their challenges, but also embrace their strengths. For instance, they see their creativity, originality, or high energy as gifts and find ways to best utilize their positive traits.

A great book related to Attention Deficit Disorder is Delivered from Distraction.

Book by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey.
Cover of Delivered from Distraction Photo by M. Fleming

In one chapter, the authors list seven habits of highly effective adults with ADD. Here are four:

  1. Do what you are good at.
  2. Have a creative outlet.
  3. Organize enough to achieve your goals.
  4. Regularly connect with some close friends.

The authors also offer an inspiring message:

Everyone who has ADD can sculpt a fulfilling, joyful life out of what they’ve been born with.

I’ll take it one step further: Everyone can sculpt a fulfilling, joyful life out of what they’ve been born with.

Enjoy sculpting.

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