Tag Archives: problem solving

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!

Embrace the Box

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God” – Ray Bradbury

ArtistHow often have you heard, “We need to think outside the box?”

Seems like a lot of folk use that phrase or something similar (my favorite is, “The solution came from left field.”).

While I believe that every human being is a creative type, everyone thinks differently. My experience is that most linear thinking folk are more apt to use terms like “outside the box”.  There’s nothing wrong with that – it means they are willing to go outside their comfort zone and consider more abstract, perhaps even illogical solutions or ideas.

I’ve always been a non-linear thinker. One of the benefits of having ADD is that my mind tends to race ahead, see the big picture, and identify connections that maybe a linear thinker wouldn’t necessarily see right away. While it is a benefit, it comes with potential problems in communicating with my linear colleagues.

When I was younger I would often become frustrated while I stubbornly tried to make people see the distant, abstract connections, or explain a complex concept. Over time I learned to have patience and empathy: the linear thinking people were just as frustrated with me! And, Heaven forbid, maybe even thought I was a bit looney or weird.

That’s okay with me. I don’t mind being a little weird or abnormal.

Then I discovered a concept that changed everything.

There is no such thing as “out of the box”.

Human beings, no matter how creative, abstract, modern or innovative, are designed to create order. In fact, in his beautiful little book, The Courage to Create,  the noted psychologist, Rollo May, makes a strong case that it is the artist’s job to bring form to chaos.

This made me think deeply about the nature of art, about life, about the universe. The fact is that there is an order to everything – even when it is not readily apparent. In essence, everything has a box. Even if we’re pulling an idea out of the chaotic swirl of cosmic matter, that idea was born from some type of order.

While I may be making a mountain out of a mole hill here, I think it’s an important distinction. Most people are linear. For that reason, knowing that everything intrinsically has a boundary can actually make the creative process easier and less overwhelming.

Our job is to either expand or contract the box.  It is to recognize the current order – and then to change the form. Artists do this all the time. Ask five painters to look at a scene and we’ll typically get five very different interpretations.  Their perceptions help us all to expand the box.

Same thing rings true when five colleagues are sitting around a conference table looking at a problem. We’ll get five (or more) different solutions that expand the box.

I think the key to solving problems is to first embrace the box. See the existing form as a reality. Begin there, and then go to work expanding the box with the realization that only God can exist outside the box.