I have a confession to make, which is probably not going to come as a big surprise: I have ADHD (with a heavy H) and was diagnosed only in my late 30’s (at the same time my oldest kid got diagnosed). That diagnosis was so validating.
It explained why my mind felt like a fluttering butterfly going from flower to flower and getting excited about starting something new. Why I get so bored at the day-to-day operations of my businesses and excel when there is a crisis or when there is a unique challenge to solve. Why I have this endorphin-inducing obsession with multi-tasking. Why I salivate at the thought of starting a new venture and my brian takes a long time to go to sleep at night.
Many of the most brilliant minds in the business world are fellow ADHD’ers – some diagnosed, some not (Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines and Ingvar Kamprad of IKEA to name a couple) .
Once I got diagnosed, I decided to harness my ADHD superpower for creativity, problem-solving and out-of-the-box thinking. I also decided to use medication as needed: to sit still and focus during long (and sometimes boring) board meetings or anything that requires my full and undivided attention for longer periods of time and does not require creative thinking. Medication is a very personal choice that works for me in certain situations.
As a diagnosed entrepreneur, this is what ADHD has taught me:
Use a Calendar/Planner – every day
My mind hates structure but it thrives on it. I have used aaaaall the planning tools in the world. In fact, I wrote a post about this a while back. I still continue to use the Panda Planner as a way to structure my days, weeks and months. This sounds like a lot of work (trust me fellow ADHD’ers, I get it), but the benefits of writing it down is extremely powerful. Now my kids know my mantra: “if it’s not in the calendar, it doesn’t exist.”
Diagnosis is validation but not an excuse
This is a big one. Once diagnosed, I had knowledge, and knowledge is everything. I used my diagnosis as a way to educate myself on the things I can control. From as simple as using a planner to more serious as when to use medication. Yes, sometimes my reckless mind daydreams about opening a new business every day, but as I get more educated on ADHD (an older and tired, maybe?) I hold my own reins and steer myself into the direction I was previously working in (easier said than done though).
Celebrate the small wins
As a type A entrepreneur with ADHD, when I set a goal, celebration doesn’t happen until that goal is reached in full. It is very hard to see the cup half full and I tend to focus on the empty part. This is so exhausting! As I get to know myself better, I have learned to enjoy the small wins. I still have to remind myself to write them down at the end of the day. This one is still a work in progress but one I’m very mindful of developing. I mean, I celebrate the small wins for my clients, why shouldn’t I celebrate that for me?
An idea can stay an idea – and that’s ok
In the past, I would get an idea and before the end of the day, it was already a thing. Also very exhausting but so deliciously satisfying. The thing is, my ideas are hardly ever small…they go big or go home! Just recently I have taught myself to marinate in that idea for a week without doing anything (no Googling, no researching, no talking to anyone about it) and I have found that after a week, that urge to make it happen fizzes away. For the few exceptions that haven’t fizzed away, then it’s an indication that I can start doing some premeditated research and force myself to take my time and plan before doing. Again, easier said than done.
I find brains fascinating. The more I learn about myself the more I understand my past and the better I can control my future. Having ADHD has definitely made my life exciting and full of adventures – never a dull moment (my poor husband!). In my head, ADHD is an Avengers-worthy superpower. We just need to learn to harness it for good.
Any other fellow ADHD’ers in the room? How do you use this to your advantage?