What have the following people got in common?
- Richard Branson
- Prince Charles
- The Osbourne clan – Ozzy, Kelly and Jack
- Billy Connelly
- Guy Ritchie
- Most Entrepreneurs I know
They have all been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or A.D.D.
You will also find that most entrepreneurs, whether they know it or admit it or not also have ADD to varying degrees.
Although I have known for some time that I have it, I had never really done been tested. Googling ‘online ADD test’ brought up a whole lot of sites that offer free tests. Some are much more in depth than others and after trawling through them all I ended up doing 3 different tests on 3 different sites. To be fair most of them were pretty much the same questions but they all came up with the same result and, as I suspected, I have severe ADD which has got worse as I have gotten older.
It is hard for people, who don’t have ADD, to understand why I cannot clear up my desk, paint a wall properly or reorganise a cupboard. After all, they are pretty simple tasks you would think.
I am able to work out complicated formulae on spreadsheets, write database code (well I used to), did the theory and learnt to fly a light aircraft and got my certificate for chart-work and navigation at sea (that was dammed hard to do) when I was learning to scuba dive. Yet, I find it impossible to keep a diary or just one notebook, writing things down in places I am destined never to see again!
It is difficult to comprehend what makes these apparently simple tasks things so hard to do and I myself get so annoyed and frustrated at the fact that I am so forgetful and get easily distracted, ending up doing several things at once and never finishing any of them.
I go off on a tangent when I am talking and often do not end a sentence. Leaving people guessing what it was I was about to say.
When someone once described autism to me, they explained that they are unable to filter the noise around them. They hear the everything all around them at once, in one large cacophony of sound and cannot focus on one thing whereas our brains can zoom in on one person speaking in a crowd or listen to the TV when the kids are playing in the same room or we can simply ‘switch off’.
This perfectly describes someone with ADD however it is not the noise we cannot filter out it is thoughts and ideas. We play through situations in our heads, internally verbalising conversations or visualising situations that we might have and go over numerous outcomes. One idea leads to a million others and we get so excited and enthusiastic about a new project, only to have forgotten what it was the following morning.
We are prone to the shiny object syndrome as we lose interest in things so easily.
Those that know me joke about it and are used to me by now, especially my wife. How she manages to put up with me is beyond me. The lady is an angel.
Now, don’t get me wrong it is not all bad, we come up with amazing ideas, think outside of the box, solve complex problems with ease and tend to be great motivators of others around us. If we have a good team around us in our business and home then life can be great.
We go about things with an almost manic enthusiasm, driving things forward and are generally a force to be reckoned with.
Nothing gets in our way or softens our resolve in the early days. However, we get it so far and then a switch goes off inside and we are then ready to move on to the next thing.
This is when, if our project is to be a success, it is imperative to have a great team of people around us to keep the momentum going and take care of the details.
It is like a rocket taking off we love the excitement of the take off and initial launch but, once we are in orbit, we lose interest and looking for the next rocket to get into.
Over the years I have come to terms with it and do not get as frustrated as I once did and I have also developed skills and habits to overcome the problems. Not with 100% success more like 60% if I am to be honest but, I am happy with that and every day I try to improve a little more but, if I fail, I don’t beat myself up about it.
So, is it a curse or a gift. Well I think it is a bit of both. I am quite good in social situations and have done quite well in my business and personal life, although like my school report used to say, “Could do better” I think it is a gift if you have others around you that understand and can make up for your weaknesses which fortunately I do.
It also helps that I recognise that I have it and once I knew this was a great relief to me as I finally understood and was able to start looking for ways to help myself and do something about it. 🙂
I do get pi***d off at times and frustrated at the stupid mistakes and forgetfulness and my inability to create a routine and my lack of willpower. Not that I have read that being easily lead is a symptom, I feel happier blaming it on ADD then accepting responsibility or admitting I have another fault 😉
If you think that you may suffer from A.D.D then read the questions below and see how many questions you answer yes to?
1. I have difficulty getting organised.
2. When given a task, I usually procrastinate rather than doing it right away.
3. I work on a lot of projects, but can’t seem to complete most of them.
4. I tend to make decisions and act on them impulsively — like spending money, getting sexually involved with someone, diving into new activities, and changing plans.
5. I get bored easily.
6. No matter how much I do or how hard I try, I just can’t seem to reach my goals.
7. I often get distracted when people are talking; I just tune out or drift off.
8. I get so wrapped up in some things I do that I can hardly stop to take a break or switch to doing something else.
9. I tend to overdo things even when they’re not good for me — like compulsive shopping, drinking too much, overworking, and overeating.
10. I get frustrated easily and I get impatient when things are going too slowly.
11. My self-esteem is not as high as that of others I know.
12. I need a lot of stimulation from things like action movies and video games, new purchases, being among lively friends, driving fast or engaging in extreme sports.
13. I tend to say or do things without thinking, and sometimes that gets me into trouble.
14. I’d rather do things my own way than follow the rules and procedures of others.
15. I often find myself tapping a pencil, swinging my leg, or doing something else to work off nervous energy.
16. I can feel suddenly depressed when I’m separated from people, projects or things that I like to be involved with.
17. I cant sit still for five minutes.
18. Even though I worry a lot about dangerous things that are unlikely to happen to me, I tend to be careless and accident prone.
19. Even though I have a lot of fears, people would describe me as a risk taker.
20. I make a lot of careless mistakes.
21. I have mood swings whilst I can be happy as Larry one minute, I can be equally down the next.
22. My mind goes at 100 miles per hour and I have trouble relaxing.
23 When I am reading a book, I find that my mind has wandered and I have to go back and read the whole page again.
24. I get very excited and enthusiastic about ideas
If you answered yes to 15 of these questions, it is likely that you may have attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyper disorder (ADD ADHD).
However, you can still have ADHD even if you answered yes to fewer than 15 of these questions. This informal test is intended as a general guide only.
If you think that you may have ADD then could consult with a Doctor and ask about an ADHD test.
There are drug treatments available which can help people concentrate better in really severe cases but, if you are in adulthood and have lived with it for this long then you are probably more than capable of dealing with it without any form of medication (apart from a nice bottle of Rioja or two on occasion and the jack daniels and coke).
The medication can have really bad side effects and there are a number of techniques that you can use to help keep it under control and, in the next article, I will write about some of these techniques and tools that I use to help me keep my ADD under control and enable me to get things done.
Now, what was it I was doing before I started this post?????