The gift of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)
Growing up was a struggle for me.
I always seemed to be on another wavelength from everyone else. I was a silent, shy and introverted little girl, that did not really fit in anywhere, so I always hovered around on the edges.
Great was my surprise when, in grade 6 I was one of the candidates to go to leadership camp for final selection to become a Prefect (or leader). We had to solve obstacle courses (almost like the reality show “survivor”) working in teams, and individually.
Well, if you know anything about ADD you would know that one of the biggest telltale signs is called weak impulse control (or as I like to put it no filters). Other people perceive things like risks, danger and morals as things that will make them stand back and take a second to think about what they are about to do, but an ADD or (ADHD) person sort of just jump in, they don’t really have those filters (they do have them, but don’t give it a second thought). Of course there are lots of sub – conditions that people with ADD can develop such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (this has nothing to do with being neat) – it is counting things, having to be in control of things, and having to do things a certain way.
This is both a good and bad thing while still at school. I came up with, innovative solutions, and jumped right in to go first on the jungle swings etc, when nobody else wanted to try it first (no brakes/filter remember?). The teachers loved it. But at the same time the team members did not like it one bit, and could not get along with me. You see, I’m also very assertive and overpowering ( yes, a shy introverted girl like me), and spoke my mind without thinking about the impact on those around me I may offend (still no filter here…).
And that turned out to be my downfall on becoming a Leader in school but also many relationships with friends, boyfriends and of course the family.
As I grew older, I learned to live through the consequences of my unguarded mouth and emotions, – I learned a very important thing : EMPATHY.
I learned to ask myself how I would feel in the other person’s shoes, and finally I was able to forge more lasting friendships. The friendships I build are with people who understand me (mostly) but also knows about the ADD and accept it.
When starting my first job I did allot of job hopping from one to the next – without fear ( I always got the job- I could sell myself to the prospective employer with ease) because of my ADD I have an amazing ability to think on my feet. I never stayed at a job for more than 2 years. I got bored and moved on.
I often landed jobs where I had to implement new processes, or workflows. I had to create new training materials and set up systems in companies.
I’m an out of the box thinker.
And best of all? It comes naturally!
All I had to do was learn to catch the details, and make sure I understood the problem/ project before I presented my opinion…. And I had (and still have) lot’s of those! I believe it is called logical deduction. Here is a short breakdown of all I hopped myself in to:
I went from being a salary recon clerk , to being a pest control sales rep, I did the accounts for a tile shop , then went on to become a recruitment consultant. Next I moved into the wonderful world of computers as an order clerk for hardware, did a quick course or two and became a training officer, working with the developer project teams. Did another software course and all of a sudden I was a Technical writer.
I started creating user guides and help files for software programs, and while doing this learned about CRM, ERP, workflows, scorecards and many more things. I never kept a job for more than 2 years, everyone worried about my inability to stay in a single job, those days it looked bad on your CV if you did not work 10 years for the same company. It did not bother me at all.
I started my own little company in 2007 and we are still going strong. I find it best to work for myself, have a company, but not to be bogged down with the daily processing details (I never follow through) – hire people to do that for you, but managing the people, the processes, the company and finding new and innovative ideas to keep us going? Now that I can do.
Today when I recruit for my own company, I scowl at people working for companies for long periods of time, unless it was in different positions (moving up of course). They obviously had no inner motivation to go anywhere with their careers, and for some jobs (like admin processing) that is perfect, but for a sales position that is horrible.
The best thing I learned was to keep on evaluating, implementing and fine tuning processes, (from my technical writing days), make sure I have well trained staff (trainer and recruitment days), and make sure the company can run without me as an essential part of it. Of course I stay in control, but they can cope perfectly without me, and I have the systems in place to measure all the outcomes.
NONE OF THIS would have been possible for me if I were just a regular shy and introverted girl !
I turned my medical condition ADD – into a gift, and used it to grow into a confident person, a company owner who canvasses and attend, give opinions and make suggestions without feeling inferior. I spend meetings in the company of CEO’s of large corporations like ABSA Bank, Ferrero Rocher, Standardbank, FNB, and other large and small companies.
Embrace your ADD (get properly diagnosed and medicated), build your support structure of family, friends, workers and leaders around you, and turn it into something that works for you!
The mobile world of iPads, iPhones and smart devices is a wonderfull way for me to make lists, make lists about the lists that I made, and forget about all the things in the lists (even if I set reminders), but I still have wonderful staff that call and remind me constantly, endlessly, until I sit down and do whatever it is they need. They know to do this, because they know me, and how forgetful I am. But they also know what brilliant Ideas i can think up, and how smoothly I can sail into the factory and fine tune it, or sort out a problem that looked like a mountain, and turn it into a little heap of sand.
I’m like that. And I’m not ashamed of it!