Last week another ADHD 911 call came in; a desperate plea for help from a man with attention deficit disorder.
Why do I call them ADHD 911 calls? Because the person’s ADHD has spiraled so dramatically out of control his or her life has reached a state of emergency.
Coaching through an ADHD 911 situation is rarely simple. Saving the caller’s job, marriage or financial health demands immediate and often dramatic action. The pressure on both the client and the ADHD coach is huge.
Let me tell you a bit about the call I got the other day. To protect the caller’s confidentiality, I’ve omitted the details. However, many ADHD 911 callers share a similar story.
A year ago this caller had been a successful man. He’d built a thriving business. His marriage was stable. Since attention deficit disorder only caused occasional stumbling blocks, he gave it little notice. All in all life was good.
His problems started the day an enticing new business opportunity came along. Always ready for a change, he jumped right in.
After the initial excitement of the new business settled down, my caller found himself unable to function. For months his days have been spent sitting in front of his computer doing everything but what he needs to do to build success.
Now his bank account is dwindling. His family’s security is at risk. He’s scared and frustrated. His once happy home life is fraught with tension. Yet, no matter how he tries, he can’t seem to get anything done. Time is running out.
And that’s when he makes his call for ADHD coaching.
What happened to bring this intelligent, successful man’s career to a screeching halt?
Underneath his many ADHD symptoms, only one basic thing had truly changed. In the new business he was no longer working to his strengths.
In his former business his success came from responding to other people’s calls and requests, something instinctive for him.
In this new business, however, success comes if he initiates contact and makes phone calls, not something that comes naturally to him.
Imagine how different things would be if this gentleman had called for ADHD coaching before life fell apart. Back when he was simply considering the new business opportunity.
I happen to be an expert on digging myself a grave by impulsively changing careers. Back in the mid-1990’s that’s exactly what I did.
I had a thriving professional organizing business when a seemingly golden opportunity for a contract with a local nonprofit organization came along.
Enticed by something new, I jumped at the chance without carefully considering what my job duties would be. Big mistake.
None of the work was creative. Suddenly I found myself sitting at a computer entering data and filing reports.
Soon I was procrastinating; making excuses for why I was missing deadlines. I felt like I was back in elementary school; fibbing about why my homework wasn’t done!
Fortunately, I got some clerical support and talked my way out of the situation.
I also quickly enrolled in an ADHD coach training program to set a new path for myself building on my organizing expertise.
If this gentleman had called before he changed his work environment we would have determined if the new business was truly right for him. We would have focused his work around his strengths, minimizing and avoiding his weaknesses.
I realize taking action before trouble hits runs against ADHD’s impulsive nature. But, imagine how much happier this story’s ending would be if the caller had saved his impulsivity for deciding which shirt he’d wear instead of which business he ran.
The lesson? Work to your strengths. Otherwise you’ll find yourself in a constant losing battle with your ADHD.
The dream of this ADHD coach? That people call for coaching BEFORE life falls apart and they need an ADHD 911 call.
Dana Rayburn is an ADHD Coach in Oregon, but don’t worry… She works by telephone helping ADHD adults all over the world live more effortlessly and successfully with ADHD.