This is going to be one of those stories where I admit to resisting something that turned out to do me a world of good.
Dunno if that’s a ‘guy thing’, or an ‘ADHD thing’, or a ‘Rick thing’, but it’s going to take me a minute or two to get there. Stay with me! (Or skip to the end, then come back and read chunks in a random order until it makes sense. Hey, it’s your ADHD, do what works for you.)
So, as you well know, there is a lot of confusion about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Some people don’t believe ADHD exists. Including a lot of ADHD experts. And even some folks like us who have ADHD. “What did he just say? ADHD Experts don’t believe in ADHD?” Yeah. Kind of. It’s the name, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
It’s those first two words. ‘Attention Deficit.’ The fact is, most of us can hyper-focus when we’re interested. So saying we suffer from a Deficit of Attention is a bit like saying someone who is seven feet tall has “Door Frame Head Bang Disorder.”
Yes, that’s one problem a 7’ person faces, but there’s a lot of other issues they deal with. And if they love basketball, being 7’ tall isn’t a problem at all. ADHD is complex. Who among us only suffers from a deficit of attention?
This must be why, these days, every expert we interview is keen to talk about ADHD as a deficit of Executive Functions. Executive Functions are, well, think of it this way… Imagine a top-level executive at a company that makes toilets (it’s just an example, ok?). Call her Tanya. Of Tanya’s Toilets. As a top executive, Tanya doesn’t make the toilets, she doesn’t test them, or work on design, engineering, or a thousand other details. The ‘doing’ gets done by others. So what does Tanya do?
What Is Executive Function Disorder?
The role of an executive is to manage things, like…
- Creating and maintaining a vision.
- Long-term panning, including setting goals, standards, deadlines.
- Coordinating different groups, including setting priorities and limits, keeping the focus on goals.
- Motivating and supporting.
- Checking progress, following up and providing feedback.
- Efficiently managing time and resources.
That’s an executive’s job. And part of your brain has that job. That’s its Executive Function.
Part of my brain is supposed to have that job, too. But that list of Tanya’s roles? That’s not me. At least, that’s not my brain’s natural inclination. If I was working at Tanya’s Toilets I’d be in the design department, coming up with a dozen ideas a day on new designs, ways to improve efficiency, and… Okay, I’m going to switch from a mythical toilet factory to my life. (Insert your own joke here.)
Executive Functioning, There’s People Who Do It Well
Back in my early days, writing for stage and radio, I had to create systems to keep track of scripts as they moved from a funny idea to a finished performance. It was difficult and took a lot of time and energy for me. It was exhausting. Disheartening. Which meant my personal life was a mess.
When I began working in television, I discovered the power of the Production Manager and the other specialists who didn’t come up with the funny ideas, but could get them produced. They created the system and kept it humming with far less stress than I ever experienced. All I had to worry about was being funny. Wooooo hoooo!
Admittedly, it was unnerving to have other people making all these decisions—at first. I discovered I have, well, control issues. (Who me? Really?) But… deep breath… By the time The Red Green Show hit it’s stride, I learned to trust the team to work their magic.
Work Was Going Great! But…
When I launched my own series, History Bites, I was the Host, Head Writer, Producer and Director. I still had a strong team to support me, but work was taking everything I had. Then I discovered coaching.
I’d like to be able to tell you that I instantly knew an ADD Coach would be the answer I didn’t even know I was looking for. Alas! At the time I thought, “I don’t have the time or money to fit coaching into my schedule.”
Looking back now, I can see it was a bit like driving madly around North America at full throttle searching for an address I desperately needed to get to, but had no idea how to find, and complaining, “I don’t have time to stop and plug it into the GPS.” Then I discovered ADHD Coaching.
What Can A Coach Do?
Remember that list of Tanya’s Executive Functions? Managing time and resources? Checking progress, following up and providing feedback? Motivating and supporting? Keeping focused on goals? Yadda, yadda, yadda… OMG! These are the precisely the things a coach does! But, you may well ask, and if you didn’t, I will ask for you, “What if I already have a doctor (or a therapist or an analyst or…)” Totally different story. Like saying, “I already have car, and a tank of gas, why do I need a GPS to navigate?”
My doctor was there to help me stop the suffering. Starting with medication. He could help me work through emotional stuff, beliefs, and feelings. We worked on areas where I felt I was ‘broken’ or ‘failing.’ Crucial stuff. If I was to give my life a grade, my doctor helped me go from an F to a C. My coach has taken me from a C to an A. An A+ on a good day.
What my coach does is help me create strategies, and generate actions that work for me. My coach gives me straight talk, with much love. She reminds me of my priorities, checks in, nudges me when I go off course, and makes me pause to celebrate and acknowledge my victories so that they don’t slip by unnoticed.
Like a lot of folks with ADD, I’m always on the next thing. The next script. Or the next breakthrough flushing mechanism for Tanya’s Toilets. Just thought of a sales idea: “Tanya’s Toilets. Flush With Success.”
Where Was I? Oh, Right…
The point is, when my wife first suggested we try coaching, I was verrrrry uncomfortable with the idea. Just as I was when Production Managers started taking over all the things I’d forced myself to learn how to do in the entertainment biz. People with ADD can have trust issues, can’t we?
Now, all I will say is this: Coaching has made a huge difference for me. In ways I never would have anticipated. (See, I told ya I would get to this part of the story!) Coaching isn’t free. But I can tell you that coaching has saved me years of time, money, and effort. I’ve avoided endless frustration. And been far more productive.
A lot of adults with ADD we’ve spoken to have expressed similar concerns and questions about coaching. Or they never even realized it existed. Which is why our newest video looks at the hows and whys of ADD Coaching. It explains the many ways coaches work—in person, by phone, on Skype—and how you can work with a coach to create solutions and ADHD strategies customized to your needs.
As coach Barbara Luther says, “There’s no one else in your life that’s going to tell you the truth, really truly, and listen and hear who you are, who you are becoming and what you really want—AND keep you working toward that. That’s the coach’s job.”
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