Category Archives: Life Path

ADHD at Work: Hunter or Farmer…What are You?

Adventure. Risk. Creativity. Novelty. Intensity.

I am a hunter – at least, I am according to Thom Hartmann. In his 1994 book, How to Succeed as a Hunter in a Farmer’s World, Hartmann created the perfect metaphor for those with ADHD. Those of us with ADHD come from the tribe of hunters; the rest of the world is dominated by farmers.

Farmers are in full control of their executive faculties. They are comfortable with systems, routines and organization. They make sure schedules are maintained; they’re experts in logistics; they crave surety and security – they don’t like unnecessary deviation. When they take a risk, it is calculated, with every pro and con weighed, analyzed and thoroughly vetted. Farmers run the world – the world doesn’t run without them. Roughly 90% of the people roaming the earth are Farmers.

The hunter is driven to explore, with highly evolved instincts – especially as he or she moves stealthily through a jungle filled with traps, snares and challenge. That’s an environment  in which the hunter thrives and feels most alive.

Those with ADHD possess these traits. With a need to experience frequent hits of dopamine, hunters have a constant need to experience novelty. They do this by taking risks that are fueled by intense curiosity, the desire to create, the need to tread into the unknown. Uncertainty isn’t something to be feared, but to be savored.

Unfortunately, as mankind evolves in this technology and data driven world, there is less and less need of the hunter. This is a farmer’s world.

Think about it – there are very few professions in which the hunter’s skills are needed. Take a look at any job board – business values stability, predictability, management. A guy sitting at a desk fidgeting with algorithms will pull down six-figures while a woman out cold calling prospects will be phased out in favor of automated sales funnels. The job fields are awash in the need for data shepherds, spreadsheet wranglers, system architects.  Farmers.

However…

Hartmann’s book, along with research that has been done since its publishing in 1994, has identified an area of business life that tends to be dominated by hunters: the world of entrepreneurship. A preponderance of entrepreneurs possess ADHD. In fact, one such entrepreneur – Jeff Neeleman, CEO for JetBlue – says that ADHD is an indispensible factor in his success.

This backs up what Syracuse University researcher, Johan Wiklund, has discovered as he delves into the connection between ADHD and entrepreneurship.

“Those with ADHD tend to spur themselves into action regardless of uncertainty,” Wiklund told Jonah Sachs in a story he wrote for Fast Company (June 29, 2017). “An impulsive inability to wait comes with a willingness to take risk. The ADHD entrepreneurs I studied struggle. But if they had a chance to be like everyone else, none of them would take it.”

He makes the point that quite often the attributes that make people comfortable with being an entrepreneur, are the exact reasons why they are edged out of traditional positions or roles within an existing organization. These attributes make them far more competent in striking out on their own.

I can relate.  In the last job I had my supervisor often labeled me a “cowboy”. I liked to go against the mold, break out of the routine. She wanted a more systematic, predictable mode of operating. I don’t blame her. That’s what managers want most – predictability.

So, wanting very much to keep my job, I reigned in experimentation and risk-taking. What happened is we traded big wins for smaller, more consistent wins. I would argue that those smaller, more consistent wins were opened up because we had some big wins first. Either way, while the smaller, more consistent wins were more palatable, the systems bored me. Systems are for farmers.

I am a hunter.

Perhaps the saddest thing I see in business today are the number of people who have a proclivity for traipsing through the forest with a spear in their hand, trying to fit in by trading the sword for a plowshare, the spear for a hoe. Hunters have the blood of thoroughbreds, built to race, to feel the wind in their faces. Now, because they live in a farmer’s world, they’ve hitched themselves to plows, tilling a field methodically.

As a manager – someone charged with producing results, utilizing all your assets to meet or exceed goals and expectations – why would you ever strap a harness and plow to a thoroughbred?

The problem is that most managers today are farmers who either don’t know what do with, or how to value what a hunter brings to the team. How will you use a hunter’s innate need to roam free when you expect a certain amount of discipline from your other team members?

First, understand what your people bring to the table. Is there an entrepreneurial role within your universe? Do you need someone who is willing to take risks, possibly fail? Will you give them the freedom to risk and fail?

Second, one way to get the most out of a team member with ADHD is to pair them with a farmer who is tolerant of the hunter’s idiosyncratic ways.  To a certain extent your farmer will manage the hunter’s results, track progress, complete the paperwork and make stuff is filed properly.  This can work.

So, is there a need for hunters in a farmers’ world?

Absolutely. In fact, while our culture honors and rewards farming activity on a day-to-day basis, it is the hunter who moves the culture forward. There are effective hunters in every industry, every walk of life, who contribute mightily. The key is to allow hunters to be hunters. Invest in them. Tolerate a degree of uncertainty, value novelty and exploration. You don’t have to give up your systems. To the contrary, simply because of demographics, if you have a workforce of 100 people, only 4-6 will be true hunters.

Some researchers have called ADHD the “entrepreneurial gene”, a sort of missing link. So, what happens when you have someone with ADHD as a manager? The key is support. That manager must have people around her who can manage the details. This allows her to employ her best skills – maybe as a dreamer, an inventor, a visionary, someone who inspires others to greatness. Just make sure someone is there to keep her calendar and remind her of appointments.

If you have ADHD and you have battled fitting into a farmers world without much success…break free and claim your place among the hunters!

That’s easier said than done, I know. But, it’s worth exploring. You’ll be happier. You’ll contribute more in every way. And, you’ll be more in alignment with your true path.

You are a hunter. Pick up your spear!

Loving the Life You Live

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde

MasqueHmm. In a recent survey by British phone maker, HTC, 75% of people  said they make their lives seem more exciting (than what’s real) on social media.

That probably isn’t too astounding to believe. It’s been drilled into our heads to not trust what we read on the internet, right? A little embellishment is okay, isn’t it? We expect that, don’t we?

What about this: according to the Society of Human Resource Managers, 53% of resumes have a falsification. Mix into this the fact that worldwide twice as many hate their jobs compared to those who like what they are doing.

How about this: GlobalWebIndex reported that 42% of those using Tinder (an online dating site) were married.

There’s so much more. There is a study or survey on everything.  A lot of it isn’t promising.

Why not? Why aren’t we loving the lives we lead?

Generally speaking we all have something in our lives that is satisfying. Some more than others. And life satisfaction isn’t really tied to money. Granted, having enough than not enough contributes to overall satisfaction, but only fractionally (Gallup reported that of those making $125,000 or more only 60% were satisfied). In employee surveys financial compensation is typically way down on the list of why someone is happy in their jobs.

Early in my career I had worked hard in creating a merger between the organization I led and another local entity. It took over a year to navigate the deal – but once it was consummated, I was named the executive director for the new organization, doubling my salary. And the moment it happened I could feel the emptiness in the pit of my stomach. I knew this wasn’t going to be the right fit. I endured for two years, finally resigning. I began living a life meant for someone else – I was bored, dissatisfied, and cranky.

Thoreau said that most men live lives of quiet desperation. That’s the thing, isn’t it? All too often adversity happens. We make choices in response to that adversity. Suddenly, 20 years later, we’ve lived that life of quiet desperation. Maybe we’re satisfied with certain things – but overall there is a lot of things we would change.

We don’t get do-overs, though, do we? Or…do we?

In doing research I have scanned many many prescriptions for living a life we love. Common themes emerged – some obvious, some surprising. Shockingly, there were a few no-brainers that didn’t make anybody’s list. Maybe I was shocked because the omitted items were things my grandmother, Babe, taught me.

The most basic thing we need to grasp is that loving the life we live is proportional to the positivity of our attitude about life. To that end, here are the pillar concepts:

Live for today, in the moment. Some call this “being present”, Life is lived in a never-ending state of NOW. Life happens NOW, in the moment. Jesus said don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow – there is enough to think about today. Grandma Babe said to take time to smell the flowers (and you may as well pick a few while you’re standing in her garden).

Being PresentBe grateful. Cultivate in your heart a feeling of generalized gratitude by daily considering those specific things in your life for which you can give thanks. In fact, do this: when you wake up in the morning, immediately give thanks that you are alive and breathing. Give thanks for having shelter, food and the other stuff inside your walls. Give thanks for all the people who love you – and whom you love. Do that daily. The gratitude mind-set will seep in. Babe would say, “Be happy you were born in America and not (fill in the fascist country of your choice)”.

Be true to yourself. Sometimes it is hard to drill down through all the ideas about life you’ve adopted based upon reactive choices, or by being influenced by people close to you. But, the treasures are there. You can hear them whispering at the edges of your consciousness. Sometimes they shout at us. Either way, you know. The truth – your truth – is there, in your heart. I’ve written an entire section on this subject in my book, Blazing into the Creative Wilderness. The basic is something my grandmother told me, “Follow your heart. The rest isn’t really worth your time.”

Give. Human beings, at our core, tend to be selfish. We’re focused on our survival. But, there is also this little bit of magic in us that let’s us see others, too.  We begin by giving to those around us, the people we love. For most of us, we receive love in return.  As we grow and gain experience, we learn that the more we give, the more we receive. It isn’t always reciprocal with everyone, but the scales balance eventually. There is an ebb and flow. Babe was a giver. More than anything else, she gave love. Even now, many years after she passed away, she’s still giving to me, and her memory continues to wrap me in her warmth.

Love. It’s simple to say and hard to do. Love isn’t an emotion – it is a choice. It encompasses giving, forgiving, listening, receiving, and so many other things. Grandma was married to my grandfather, Herb, for 55 years. It wasn’t always easy. They survived the depression, world wars, and so many other adversities. But, they had love. Love for each other, for their children, for their community.

Laugh. As Babe told me, it was the secret to being married to the same human being for 55 years.

Love God. Jesus gave two great commandments to His disciples that sum it all up: Love God with all your mind and your heart, and love others as you love yourself. Pretty simple. Despite the secular humanism and relativism that pervades modern culture, by and large the most successful and happiest people believe in God, or at least a universal power that was far greater than themselves. What’s interesting to me is that each of the pillar concepts in this list describe some aspect of our limited understanding of God.

300px-Hands_of_God_and_AdamObviously there are many other things to consider, nuances, things specific to your situation. But, by focusing on these pillars you’ll be well on your way to loving the life you live. Don’t take my word for it – trust Grandma Babe.

 

Living to Work, or Working to Live?

It’s so strange…

In survey after survey the findings are eerily the same: most American workers don’t like their jobs. In a 2014 survey prepared by The Conference Board, and reported by Forbes, only a little more than half of the people working actually like what they are doing.

They live to work. The job is a paycheck.

There’s nothing wrong with that, nothing at all. In fact, so many consider themselves lucky to have a job at all. I know many who were devastated by the Great Recession, some of whom were out of work for many, many months (some, years). They feel fortunate they have the job they are in now. But, two things can be equally true – they may feel fortunate, but they also would rather be doing something else. Something that fulfills them authentically.

What is it for you?

It’s said that Carl Jung (the anti-Freud) thought it was most fortuitous when one of his patients had lost his job. That’s when the real work could be done. What would be possible if you did the work before that happened? What if you started right where you are today?

Given the landscape today, with uncertainty being the only thing that is certain, most agree that we should all have a back-up plan. For many that plan includes having a gig on the side.

Some people invent things. Others write for blogs. I imagine that some still sell Amway and Herbalife. Some study to get their real estate license, others go back to school.

All of that is cool. Deciding to create a separate gig is part and parcel with the journey toward the authentic life – the life you love to live.

For me it is writing. I’ve always written – even in the jobs I didn’t like all that much. Writing has always been at the core of what I do. And now, with Blazing Mind, I write about the things I care most about – helping others realize their potential, encouraging them to grab their brass ring, follow their bliss.

For me ( and thousands of others, it seems), I discovered a community called Wealthy Affiliate. My objective is to establish Blazing Mind as a brand that people will trust. To do that I needed the knowledge and tools to accomplish this goal. I’ve found that at Wealthy Affiliate.

It’s like a university where one can learn just about everything there is to know about online marketing. The trainings are complete and diverse. What I didn’t expect is the supportive community – you’re never on your own.

And it’s free to join.

At no cost you can receive the basics. If you want to pay a little you get a lot more. If a part of your dreams is to establish an online business, I recommend Wealthy Affiliate.

But, whatever it is that’s whispering in your ear, whether it’s something that has taken silent residence in your soul since you were a child, or it’s something that caught your interest last weekend – whatever it is – you owe it to yourself to investigate and take action.

If you’re tired of living just to work, if you’re a part of that 53% hating what they are doing – take the first step toward your dream today. Maybe you’ll strike gold, maybe you’ll just gain more knowledge. Either way, you won’t regret taking that step.

Just like drawing a paycheck, there’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.

Is a Spiritual Connection Really Needed?

Does leading an authentic life really require a spiritual connection?

If you are a seeker like me, you’ve pretty much witnessed that every teacher, guru, New Age purveyor and/or life coach has connected authenticity with spirituality. Are they right? Is this a necessity?

There are many that shudder and cringe at the mere mention of “spirituality”. What’s interesting to me is that in conversations I’ve had with friends from differing backgrounds, all too often atheists and Born Agains often have the same reaction to the modern use of the word “spirituality”.

The Godless ones believe we’re just skin and bones with a brain, the ultimate creation of evolution. There is no higher power or spirit beyond self that’s running things. My Born Again friends believe the modern definition of spirituality is much too broad and all-inclusive, a direct contradiction to their “turn or burn” ethos.

Hmm. Where does that leave us?

Most of the successful people I have known did, indeed, believe in some kind of higher power. The attitudes I illustrated above are extreme ends of the spectrum. Most of us dwell somewhere in the middle – and our relationship with spirituality is as complex as it is individual.

Whether it is an all-knowing celestial benefactor, walking on the water messiah, or a pantheon of gods playing dice with our souls, the common theme I have seen is that there is agreement that there is something bigger than ourselves.

And at the core of this belief is a shared experience of morality. From this I find the next agreement: The authentic life is inherently moral.

I think it is best said that, while we are all so different, we share basic agreements about morality. Don’t lie, cheat or steal. Definitely don’t commit murder or commit otherwise senseless violence. Respect another’s property and relationships.

We all pretty much agree on these things. But, beyond the rightness or wrongness of things, there is one practical thing to consider: lying, cheating and stealing simply don’t work.

Sure, anyone can get away with this type of behavior for a while. But, when it is discovered there will be wreckage and chaos and hurt. Separation will occur until the amends are made, a new pattern of behavior is established, and forgiveness is offered. Even then trust may be hard to re-establish.

I have a friend that runs an alcohol and drug treatment facility. He has told me that the main cause of addiction and the horrible wreckage it inflicts is all due to a “spiritual break”. It’s a loss of internal integrity, seeking meaning through artificial means. A facsimilie for real life.

From what I’ve seen and experienced, an authentic life does require a belief in something bigger than ourselves – in fact, I think it requires a commitment to this higher calling. It’s been proven time and again that when we place our focus on helping others get what they want and need, our needs typically are well met. This principle is basic to business success. It’s also true in one-to-one relationships.

So, maybe one definition of spirituality as it applies to authentic living is our connection to that which is larger than us – an unseen energy that we can nevertheless feel in our hearts.

Therefore, authenticity seems to require getting over ourselves, This is a simplistic answer. Throughout this site there are different ways to explore the complexities of leading an authentic, fulfilling life. But, maybe we can agree that having a calling bigger than ourselves is valuable and important.

Does that mean having purely personal goals are inconsistent with leading an authentic life? Of course not. In fact, they are essential! In the next post I’ll explore why this is so.

The Inner Oracle

Know thyself.

This ancient advice is at the heart of every sacred belief system known to man. Knowing thyself – self-truth. This is the basis, the deep-rooted foundation of living an authentic life.

So, the first agreement must be this: know your own mind. Know your own heart. Know the content of your soul.

It’s a simple and profound truth: accept yourself.

And yet, how many people do you know that lead lives of self-delusion? Or, they’re stuck in jobsmarriagesrelationshipslives they don’t love? Maybe you’re in that space, too? Lord knows I’ve been there. In fact, I think most move in and out of authentic living. We’re constantly searching, seeking, surviving. Maybe we get caught up in other people’s dreams for our lives. Parents, teachers, bosses, spouses, friends, pastors, gurus…a lot of people thin they know what and how our lives should be. I’ve been there, too. We all have.

I can think of two profound times when I said “yes” and “I do” when I should never have uttered those words. In fact, I recall knowing that those decisions were completely wrong for me…and yet I went ahead anyway. In both scenarios I was ripping off others and myself. I was never “all-in”. I did a good job of making the most of both situations, but there was a lack of integrity at the core – and neither lasted. Both were based on “should”.

I should want this job. I should want this relationship…

Second agreement: There are no shoulds in an authentic life.

Survival is fraught with the word should. We do things because we think that’s our only choice. We get stuck in a job we hate because the rent has got to be paid. We stay in bad marriages because we don’t want to be lonely or give up security or we’ll hurt the kids, or whatever the excuse is. Those are big things, but survival is dripping with myriad small situations in which we don’t tell the truth in order to simply get along. The little lies mount and gather a kind of heavy gravity that pulls our souls into the basement. Pretty soon we’re stuck down there with all the ghosts of lives we never led.

It takes courage to say “no” to survival, and “yes” to an authentic life. It takes courage to leave your job to start a business. It takes monumental courage to transform a marriage. It even takes courage to say “no” to hanging out with relatives you don’t really want to be around during the holidays. It takes courage to say “yes” to carving out 20 minutes a day to meditate, write or do something you enjoy – especially when you have a husband/wife/SO/kids clamoring for the undivided attention you normally provide at their demand. It takes courage to upset the apple cart.

Third rule: Authenticity requires saying “no” to survival and “yes” to life.

This is a start. Maybe I’m going down the wrong track here, but it doesn’t feel like it’s wrong. Next post I’ll go deeper into this. I think the surface has only been scratched.

The Authentic Life…?

In doing research for my next book, I started seeing a trend. The “authentic life” is the buzz in the self-help world.

Seems like every life coach, meditation expert, creative consultant and self-help blogger is writing about the need to live authentically. I’m not immune, either. Heck, in the sub-title of my book I claim that if one follows what I’ve presented, an authentic life can be had. I stick by that claim…

But, I began wondering, what does having an authentic life actually mean?

Most of the stuff I read was either framed in the context of religion/spirituality, or via some type of new age belief system. Of course, this got my mind going…what if one wasn’t religious or particularly spiritual? In fact, does morality even come into play when considering “the authentic life”?

For example, I would argue that Donald Trump has led an extraordinarily authentic life and he doesn’t strike me as being exceptionally spiritual (I could be wrong, of course). Just seems like Trump is who Trump is, makes no bones or pretense about it. Of course, that authenticity is already being tested in this political season. Guess we all have our trials.

Then I started thinking about other folk, people who were really coming from left field – like Salvador Dali or Ayn Rand. Both led colorful, push-the-envelope lives that can only be described as authentic. Dali was, well, Dali. And Rand invented Objectivism. Neither was particularly spiritual (Dali was an agnostic and Rand an atheist). Would their lives fit into the current ethos?

So, maybe I’m missing something. Seems like “the authentic life” has nothing to do with morality or right and wrong. I mean, couldn’t a criminal lead an authentic life? Maybe not one that you or I would live, but…

Or, maybe we define having an authentic life based upon a set of agreed upon principles and ideas. I’ll go there next post in my quest to define exactly what is meant by having an authentic life.

 

The Insidious Art of Self-Betrayal

When I was in college I had a friend who had a friend (call him Joe) who was going to UCLA. He was pre-Med. His grandfather, father, and older brothers all preceded him – they went to UCLA, graduated from medical school, became doctors. Plus, during their school years none received less than an “A” in any class. With brilliance and perfection, they successfully navigated the life path that was set before them.

Joe was following in those mighty footsteps. That is, until his Senior year when he received a “B” in one of his classes. Distraught and unable to face his father and brothers with the blemish on the family record, Joe bought a gun and put a bullet between his ears.

While this is tragic enough, the story is even sadder – Joe didn’t even want to be a doctor.

A gifted illustrator, Joe wanted to be an artist.

While this is an extreme example, how many of us betray our true path in life? How often do we co-opt a dream to satisfy some external pressure or expectation? How often do we lay down our life for the sake of pleasing someone else?

I’m not talking about the courage of a soldier sacrificing his life so others might live – that’s heroic and different.

There is nothing heroic about forfeiting natural gifts, or the plan associated with those gifts, so that others might be pleased.

Obviously there are practical concerns. We all need to take care of our families, meet obligations, earn a living. That’s good. But, depending on the survey, 50-75% of the workforce either hate their job or are looking for something new.

If we’re working for a paycheck, then we also should be seeking our true calling – especially if we hate the job we’re in! The problem is that we often do not know the true nature of our calling.

In the first section of my book (shameless plug) I have an exercise that’s helpful in seeking out and identifying our calling. It focuses on the stuff we enjoy doing, we’re interested in doing, and that we’d do for free. Quite often you can take on your calling while you still work to pay the mortgage. All you have to do is give yourself permission to move forward.

Moving forward – isn’t that a big part of an authentic life?

I wish my buddy’s friend at UCLA would have given himself permission to not be a doctor, to pursue his art. And, I’ve met so many people who carry something dead inside because they aren’t living their calling. Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and quit betraying themselves.