Category Archives: Mindful Work

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!

Five Reasons to Invest in a Team Member with ADHD

The speed of business today is remarkable. Think about it – just 20 years ago we were still figuring out email and dial-up internet connections; and just 10 years before that we were using typewriters and carbon paper. Back then we were joyriding on Kitty Hawk; today, we’re straddling rockets.  Many who navigate the fast lane have said they’ve had to develop ADHD just to keep up, much less thrive.

Hmm. Because of this Indy 500 business environment, hiring and/or investing in an individual with ADHD can be an incredibly smart strategic decision…so long as they are put into a position to succeed.

 

 

So, what does an ADDer bring to the conference table? Here are five attributes that give them an edge:

Passion & Energy. Individuals with ADHD bring an intense passion for subjects in which they have an interest.  This passion creates a flow of super-charged energy that will breathe life into projects, initiatives and campaigns.

Novelty Seeking. Look, someone with ADHD gets bored quickly. However, if they have interest in the subject, they will turn things upside down and sideways to find nuance and novelty. They’ll reverse engineer, forward predict, and tear apart stuff until they are experts.

Hyper-Focus. A hallmark of someone with ADHD is their ability to hyper-focus. This means they will pin-point their attention to the subject at-hand to the exclusion of everything else.  This is a state of mind that is very similar to “being in the zone” – a business version of Steph Curry raining 3-point shots from anywhere on the court.

Diverse Connections and Solutions in Solving Problems. When diving into their subject, the ADHD mind will make connections that may not be readily apparent – stuff others can’t see. At the time it may not make much sense, but will typically lead to unique, often ground-breaking solutions.

Creativity. Studies have shown that those with ADHD are highly creative – often more creative than “normies”. They become an unstoppable force when creativity is combined with the other attributes listed here.

Academicians and business gurus are beginning to identify ADHD as the “entrepreneur gene”. Those with ADHD are great creators, visionaries and risk-takers. They give birth to pioneering ideas that can literally change the business and cultural landscape. Sir Richard Branson, Einstein, and David Neeleman are great examples.

You can’t ask, so, how do you know if someone has ADHD? True ADHD is a neuro-medical condition in which brain chemistry affects a person’s executive functions – so, you can’t ask if someone has the condition. Check out these symptoms – ways ADHD shows up. Do you have employees that fit this profile? You may have folk that will self-identify (again, you can’t ask!). So, experiment.

A note of caution – while there may be exceptions (there always are), don’t expect an ADHDer to actually manage or administer a program or initiative once the project is complete. Pair them with someone whose mind is focused on detail and organization. Administrative stuff may just bring about boredom once the novelty has worn away. Be aware of this – hand off administration to someone else, and encourage your ADHDer to simply be themselves. And then get out of the way.

After all, you’ve just  equipped someone to ride a rocket!

Fulfilling Your Creative Purpose

Think creativity is just play-time fluff? Think again.

In a survey of 1,500 executives conducted by IBM in 2010, creativity was cited as the single most important factor for future success due to the ever increasing complexity of an increasingly interconnected world. From the C-Suite down to the factory line or the reception desk, every member of an organization needs to be tapped into their innate creative abilities.

Complexity

People who exercise their creative abilities and potential at work typically like their job. The constant engagement and challenge provides a kind of freedom that creative types absolutely need.

But, we know that more than half of all workers don’t like their jobs. A lot of factors contribute to this, but in another survey conducted by the Office of Personnel Management in 2011, only 42% of workers said that creativity and innovation were rewarded.

Hmm. Seems like there is a disconnect here. On one hand leaders say that creativity is the most important factor in achieving success. But, it seems leaders aren’t rewarding creativity. No wonder so many people would trade their current job for a new one.

“Creativity is not a fixed quantity, but rather a renewable resource that can be improved and nurtured by optimizing the environment that allows an individual’s creative potential to blossom.” From Inspiring a Generation to Create, Center for Childhood Creativity.

Let’s face it, the workplace has changed and it hasn’t. It has changed in that more and more organizations are employing part-timers, contract workers and freelancers while phasing out full-time jobs. It’s tough to implement part-time creativity (unless one is hired for a specific creative task like a designer or writer). The workplace has not changed in that most successful businesses rely upon tried and true systems to get the job done.

Tried and true systems don’t rely on creative thought or action. They simply need execution.

So, what is a worker to do?

Creative expression is a basic component of living a fulfilling, authentic life that you love to live. Most people desperately want to employ their creative abilities on the job. Evidently less than half of workers really are encouraged to do this. For the half that feel like zombies stuck in a rut walking on a treadmill, here are three choices you may want to consider:

Innovate as best as you can. While organizations depend upon reliable systems, just about every business is focused on performance. Can you find ways to make the system more efficient? Is there a way to tweak what you’re doing in order to make it more enjoyable while improving performance? Innovate if you can. If you’re not in a position that gives you much opportunity, consider the 2nd choice.

Design your own gig. Most of us can’t just quit if we’re not happy in our job. We have bills to pay, after all.  But, according to a report done by University of Phoenix in 2014, 40% of workers want to start a business. If you aren’t happy where you are, consider designing your own gig. Every skill on the market can be freelanced. And there are thousands of service-oriented businesses that can be entered. Focus on something you want to do and then find people who need what you want to do. Simple concept, not necessarily easy.  However, most people I know have something on the side. If your side gig finds some traction and a market, who knows, maybe your gig will become your main source of income and satisfaction.

Piano Hands

Fulfill creative expression outside the workplace. There are a lot of actors and artists that sling coffee and wait on tables. Conversely, I know high level executives who turn financial deals during the day, but pick up a paintbrush at night and on the weekends. Remember Richard Gere in the movie Shall We Dance? He was a corporate attorney whose train passed by a dance studio on his commute home. One night he got a shot of courage and got off the train. He began dancing in secret. Every day on that train the tension within him grew – something was missing. He didn’t want to leave his well-paying day job – he just wanted to dance. His life became richer and more fulfilling – especially so after his wife discovered his secret passion.

So…what’s your art? If you don’t care about income and just want to give freedom to your creative voice, what are you waiting for? Get off the train!

Success & the Law of Attraction: The Missing Link

When The Secret exploded into our popular culture, the Law of Attraction was suddenly everywhere. Even Oprah weighed in.

There was nothing new about the Law of Attraction. This wisdom has been around for thousands of years. “As a man thinketh, so he is” comes to mind. We really do create our own reality because everything begins with a thought.  If we think negative thoughts, the world will seem dreary, lonely and everyone will call you Eeyore.

On the other hand, if our thoughts are positive, we will have a tendency to attract positive things into our lives. In fact, through the science of positive psychology it is proven that those with sunny dispositions tend to have happier, more prInspiredLightningoductive lives.

However…many who have attempted to implement the Law of Attraction have been sorely disappointed when the man/woman of their dreams remains in silent slumber, their checking account still comes up short at the end of the month, and their best vacation option is a long weekend at the Motel 6 in Bakersfield (that’s right, “Sun, Fun. Stay, Play!).

What the purveyors of the Law of Attraction didn’t tell you is that there is a part 2 to making this concept work. Yes, you need to see it and believe it, up your ante on vibration, and open your mind to the possibility of new possibilities. After all, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive, it can achieve.” Thank you Napoleon Hill. This is truth.

What is also true is that you can’t just stop at naming and claiming. There is some work involved. Here are the three things you need to do after you send your request to the great distribution center of the universe.

Gain knowledge. So you want to be an internet gazillionaire? Terrific! After you put in your request, start learning how online commerce works. Sign up for Wealthy Affiliate, read Online Marketing for Dummies, find yourself a hungry Millennial who can show you the ropes.  Whatever it is your heart desires, you best be learning how it works, discover the nuances, and learn the dance you’ll have to do to manifest your dreams.

Gain skill. As you add knowledge, put the knowledge to use. This is the action part. To be an internet gazillionaire you will need a website. You will need to be a marketer. You’ll probably need to write copy and do design work. You’ll need to Like, Tweet and Post. In other words, you’ll need to work. If the work follows your dream, it won’t feel like work at all. Hopefully it will be a joyful exercise in fulfilling your deepest desires.

Get connected. Internet gazillionaires don’t live in a vacuum. They aren’t shacked up at a cabin in the woods or live in a silent monastery somewhere in the Italian Alps. They are connected to people. Key people. They have a community. Find yours. This is actually the scary part for a lot of people. We’re afraid that we won’t measure up, won’t be accepted, won’t be taken seriously. We fear rejection. Keep this in mind: everybody experiences this in one way or another…so, if everyone experiences this, we’re all equal! Reach out to a potential mentor. Ask questions, As you receive, be willing to give. Be reciprocal. Pretty soon you’ll attract your community.

In my book, Blazing into the Creative Wilderness, I go into each of these three areas. Check it out if you want more detail.

Whatever you do, don’t just focus on part one of the Law of Attraction. Make the elements of part two a daily ritual. Within time you’ll be living the life you love.

 

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.