Success & Focus/Strengths & Weaknesses

By Rick Green

Last week (2012) we drove to Boston to do a show at the PBS station WGBH. They’re going to be running our new documentary, ADD & Mastering It!. A big coup for us!  After that, we were off to Albany and the PBS station WMHT.

In between, Jimi and I paid a visit to ADHD legend, Dr. Edward ’Ned’ Hallowell.   We talked and talked and talked. With our camera’s rolling.  And we will probably talk again at the CHADD conference in November. If you haven’t been to a CHADD event you owe it to yourself. The lineup of speakers is always impressive. This year it’s in San Francisco! Bonus! In fact…  Whoops, stay on topic, Rick!

At the CHADD conference, Ned will be speaking on a theme that is more than near and dear to him, it forms the backbone of everything he does. He calls it a Strength-Based Approach to ADHD/ADD.

Focusing on strengths is a crucial distinction because we can so easily focus on our failures and screw-ups. Most of my life that’s all I saw. Still do, sometimes.  Real success come from playing to your strengths, capitalizing on what you do well. Yes, you want to get the problem areas managed. You want the challenges eliminated. You want to reduce the friction, the drag, the ways you mess up. But fixing weaknesses doesn’t lead to success. Getting my taxes done just eliminated pain. It didn’t create joy, pleasure, or a sense of purpose.  Real successes come from your strengths.  Yes it’s great to have my paperwork managed. But I’m doing that to allow me more time to create comedy.

Hmm. Maybe I should make this funnier?  Oops, back to the topic, Rick.

You want to play to your strengths. You want to develop them. And what one in 1000 people realize is just how many potential strengths each of us has. One reason we have no idea how good we are at things is because we simply never tried them. Maybe I would be good at whitewater rafting. Never tried. Maybe I would enjoy playing backgammon. Never tried it.  And why haven’t I?  It’s not for lack of opportunity. I’ve been in lots of stores that sell backgammon boards.  It’s that it doesn’t appeal to me. Doesn’t interest me. It doesn’t tickle my fancy. (And lets be honest, life is all about getting your fancy tickled.]

Whereas there are 100 things I haven’t tried but would like to. The new term is Bucket List. Things you want to do before you die.

That reminds me of the time a very sensitive woman asked me, “What would you like to do before you die?” And I replied, “thrash around, gasp, clutch my chest, collapse in a heap shout out something profound, and then expire with the dramatic shudder.” She stared at me. Okay I thought it was funny. When she finally realized what I meant…

Sorry. What was I talking about? Now I have to go look at the beginning of this…

Oh, right. Strengths.

You want to play to your strengths if you’re aiming for success. If success isn’t that important but the process is enjoyable then it’s not so important.  For example, I’ll never be a professional hockey player, but I like playing ball hockey, street hockey. I’m pretty good at it but there are a lot of people who are way better. And that’s just fine.

Play to your strengths but also follow your passions.

Sometimes passion gives you the fuel to stick with something long enough to turn it into a strength.  Make sense?

6 Replies to “Success & Focus/Strengths & Weaknesses”

  1. Rick, You live in Ontario and you have never done whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River? It’s great and there are no cars to stop the action as in street hockey. You never have to say “play on”. I too played a lot of street hockey and never got good at real ice hockey, but it was great fun and it help keep me fit for varsity rugby and track when I was attending university.
    Wayne ( I scored before you yelled car) McFarlane

  2. So true Rick. I spent years taking my son to speech therapy for remedial reading and literacy, OT to help with his poor fine motor skill and a psych to fix behaviour problems. Only now am I focusing on his strengths – he has a great sense of humour and is very bright with maths (top 3% for his age), but I fear his self esteem is already too damaged from all the focus on his weaknesses.

  3. SweetSheba, you should be able to find out more about CHADD’s conference from their website. It’s in November. We’ll be there interviewing any one and everyone we can.

    And no, Wayne, I have never done white water rafting on the Ottawa river. I’ve done a lot of white water canoeing and Kayaking, but that was on calm lakes. The white water was me thrashing around.

  4. RedSquirrel; I too fear the same for my 8-yo son. Yet, everyday I wonder, I take one look at him and see his kung fu is strong and his magic powerful. He has parents that love and admire him and who set bounderies to appropriate behavior and keep him pointed to the path of enlightenment.

    It’s hard and heartbreaking to see his struggle yet reassuring to know he will not have to suffer the pain his parents did. That knowledge helps to temper the panic.

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