By Rick Green
What’s the best job in the world for you and your mindset? Or for anyone with ADHD? Being a comedy actor, director, producer, and writer, I know what I’d suggest.
And yes, I know that’s actually four jobs, not one, but then I have ADHD.
Now, let’s be clear, by ‘best job’ I mean the most fun… joyful… engaging… challenging.
Not the most lucrative. I’m saying ‘best’ as in ‘spiritually rewarding’ versus ‘financially rewarding.’ Not that joy and money are mutually exclusive.
So, does that mean I recommend that anyone and everyone with ADHD get into comedy? No. First of all, I don’t need the competition.
Plus, if I stop and think it through, (which is not like me), I realize that not everybody loves getting up in front of large crowds.
Apparently public speaking is a bigger fear for most people than death, poverty, or listening to a political debate.
Everyone is Different (How Annoying!)
Every person is a unique individual. We’re each weird in our own way. Whether we have ADHD or not, we all have our personal buffet of challenges and strengths.
I suppose this is good, and it makes for a more interesting world. But the fact that everyone is different is exhausting isn’t it? I find it takes a lot more energy to remember people’s likes, dislikes, marital status, or name. By the way, if name tags are so handy at conferences and other events, why don’t we all wear them? All the time. That would save me a lot of mental strain. Who’s with me on this?
What Was I Talking About Again?
Oh, right. The ideal vocation for someone with ADHD.
After editing interviews with a dozen experts to create The Perfect Career for ADHD, it is clear to me that there are two universal truths for ADDers and work.
First Universal Truth (FUT): There is no one all-round right job. (Don’t pout! This is good news. If there was only once choice, it wouldn’t be a choice, right?) Your ‘calling’ is whatever calls to you.
In the Perfect Career video, Wilma Fellman, a Career Counselor who specializes in folks with ADHD, explains that every member of our tribe has a unique combination of challenges. Your personal pot-pourri of strengths and weaknesses are different than mine. Sure, there is lots of overlap.
We’re All Different Except for the Similarities
It’s like human faces–lots of variation from one individual to the next, but generally a nose, two eyes, a mouth, forehead on top, chin near the bottom. And yet these elements can produce faces as different as actress Zooey Deschanel and billionaire Richard Branson. (Two people who are very open about having ADHD.)
So, yes, there are common challenges for people with ADHD. (Easily bored. Impatient. Able to focus when interested.) This is why it’s not surprising that certain occupations attract a disproportionate number of ADD Adults. In fact, as Dr. Margaret Weiss jokes, there are certain jobs that only someone with ADHD would even consider! (She was looking at me as she said this.)
This Is a Big Deal
Second Universal Truth: Finding the right job can be crucial for someone with ADHD.
As you can probably attest ADHD is very situational. In the right situation we can soar. (Onstage at a Comedy Club, I’m great!) And in the wrong situation we will struggle mightily, or simply give up. (Doing my taxes. Making follow up calls. Following a To-Do list…)
The first time I watched the finished version of The Perfect Career For ADHD, I was struck by two things. One, framing it as a parody of Mad Men really worked. (Although my Don Draper was a bit more Pee Wee Herman.) Second, I realized how lucky I have been to find a job, or rather a series of jobs, that really play to my strengths.
One piece of advice the experts all recommend is ‘Handing off the stuff you don’t do well to someone else.’ Sounds sensible. Not so easy to do.
Handing off chores that I hated was not something I did for a very long time. Even though I hated them. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed that I started to understand that I didn’t have to do everything myself. And I was wasting my already limited willpower trying.
Funny, if you’d ask me, ‘Can one person do everything?’ I’d have said, ‘Of course not.’
Why then, do I, and many of adults with ADHD, think we have to do everything ourselves? Perhaps when you’ve grown up feeling you can’t trust yourself to do things, you find it hard to trust others.
Let Go of Struggle – Focus on Strengths
If you try to do everything, which is impossible and exhausting, you end up living a very small life.
Almost every career you can think of involves working with others. Somebody made doing stage and television productions require me to work with scores of other people: experts in costume, makeup, set design, lighting…
I was glad to hand off those things because they were exotic specialties. Yet I insisted on struggling to finish my taxes every year, which meant they were always late. I spent more on late fees and fines than we now spend on our bookkeeper.
That’s right, we have bookkeeper who handles almost everything. Flawlessly. For her, numbers and precision are a real strength. She finds it interesting. Challenging.
Remember I said everyone is unique. Well, bookkeeping is the Perfect Career for her.
Funny thing, when I talked a bit about my work she just shook her head. The prospect of being a writer, actor, and director, ‘In front of all those people…’ terrified her about as much as that giant shoebox overflowing with crumpled receipts, invoices, and letters from the tax department used to paralyze me.
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