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In this post, I share the 5 ADHD strengths I see in my clients, and every ADHD person I meet. If, you have ADHD, I hope you take the time to read this post and let the ideas sink in.
Why? Because it’s so easy to dwell all the negative effects that ADHD has on a person’s life. I could give you a laundry list of forgotten & lost items, missed appointments, missed flights, and awkward situations, but I know you already know what I’m talking about.
However, there’s also a lot of power in our ADHD brains. So, today I’m sharing the top 5 strengths that I believe are common to ADHDer’s and how we can leverage them in our everyday life.
I’m so passionate about this topic, because if you have ADHD, there’s no getting rid of it, so you might as well learn how to accept it and use it to your advantage . Right? Right So here’s the top 5 ways that ADHD is the ace in your back pocket that you can pull out and use when the opportunity presents itself.
1. We see the big picture in 4D
Details are important, but so often, we humans get caught in the myopic details of life and lose the big picture point of what we’re focused on. Folks with ADHD have the advantage of big picture thinking.
This is a perception quality that helps us see different sides or points of view in a situation, rather than being narrow-viewed or one-sided.
So how does this help us? We’re natural mediators, which is incredibly useful, especially in this time in history where we’re all so divided. This gives you an empathetic power to understand someone else’s point of view, and often, you can see in them the greatness they can’t see in themselves because they’re stuck in the crappy details.
Where can you apply this strength? In your job, it makes you a compassionate, charismatic leader, because you can speak to a vision without having the details ironed out yet.
This is CRITICAL if you want to be an entrepreneur. So if you have a vision for something, but you’re feeling overwhelmed by details, maybe you need someone who compliments your big picture thinking with execution skills, or a coach that can help you iron out the details.
You can do this, it’s just typically not your superpower, so you might need support.
On a more practical level, this also means that when you’re listening to others explain something, especially when it’s boring but important, ask them to explain the big picture concept first, then fill in the details. Your brain will have a MUCH easier time capturing what’s happening that way. The point is that the strength is there, but it’s up to you to create the right environment for it to show up.
2. We Bring the ENERGY
As long as it’s something we’re interested in, we’re ready for action. We can be spontaneous, self-starting and have endless curiosity about a topic. We’ll take down the energy bunny any day in terms of endurance, because we can just keep going and going and going….
So, of course this is a brilliant asset to have, especially at work! The trick is, like I mentioned, it has to be something we’re interested in and passionate about.
That’s really the key to not getting sick of it and moving on. Or if that happens for you a lot, maybe project work or sprint work is the way for you to harness your energy on the job.
So, how can you use this in your life right now? Energy is a tricky thing because if we over use it, we get burned out (and I’ve got a WHOLE video, podcast and blog post on ADHD burnout.
However, once you understand what activities give you energy, you can manage it, and use to your advantage.
Does peopling and noise drain you? Does walking your dog or video games jazz you up? Make a list of your drainers and chargers and start using them to pump you up before you need to harness that energy to do important work.
Personally, I run before a big work day because it quiets my mind and gives me focused energy to do hard stuff for about 2 hours. Then I need I need a reboot. So the takeaway here is to get curious about your personal energy and how to optimize it. Only you can do this work, but if you take the time to master your energy levels, it can really super charge your day to day performance.
3. We’re Cool in Chaos
Now if you have ADHD, you’re probably no stranger to chaos. Messiness, disorganization, last minute fires that need to be put out because you forgot something or showed up late. It’s a life-long adventure, right?
But there’s a flip side to the hard part about living in chaos. It makes us very resilient and adaptable because we have developed compensatory habits and emotional callouses that buffer against the impact of chaos.
In other words, when it comes to chaos, it’s not our first rodeo, friend. It’s our 7 millionth.
So what does this mean and how does it help? Ya’ll, we can thrive under pressure like nobody’s business. This is particularly a super power in certain careers, like event management (I used to do that), emergency room staff, first responders, stock traders and well, momming.
It also helps us get through the hard seasons of life. Think about a time when you, or someone close to you was going though a hard time. How did you show up for that situation? Were you no where to be found, or were you alert and on it? I bet it was the ladder, even if you’re thinking – yeah, but I could have done so much more.
Being good in a crisis is a superpower, friends. In fact, research shows that the ADHD brain tends to produce more Theta waves than average brains. So when crisis hits, our Theta waves generate a deep sense of focus, enabling us to tqap into deeper problem solving skills and our intuition. I suspect this is also why we need urgent deadlines in order to motivate ourselves to get things done!
4. We’re Quick Starters
Yes, impulsivity is an ADHD symptom, but framed another way, we’re quick to start things where other people spin their wheels on getting ready to get ready. Am I right?
According to the Kolbe test, quick starts have a natural ability to INNOVATE or IMPROVISE when solving problems. People who initiate Action in Quick Start act with a sense of urgency and thrive on deadlines. Sound familiar? Anecdotally, I can tell you that most of the big things I’ve done in my life, I can attribute to this strength.
Ya’ll I sold all my belongings and move to India for 3 months in my late 30s, and left 6-figure corporate jobs more than once to take on entrepreneurial ventures. I’ve also done a half ironman, even tho I had not swam or rode a bike since I was 10, and competed in a bodybuilding competition for the first time at the ripe old age of 42.
Quick starting is the only starting I know how to do. If I spent time actually breaking down and thinking through everything I had to do, I wouldn’t do it. Quick starts get snizzle done. It might not be pretty, and guaranteed there will be some point in the process where we say to ourselves, “what the hell was I thinking when I signed up to do this?”, but that’s what makes life interesting, right?
As a side note – you would not be watching or listening to me right now if I took a long time to consider how I would execute on this podcast and youtube channel. Is it perfect? Far freaking from it, but the only way to advance this skill of podcasting and you-tubing is to actually do it. Rest assured, making a fool of myself is only something I worry about after my content is live.
5. We’re Creative
Now, you might thing – no I’m not, but I’m going to tell you that you are. You don’t have to be a writer or a painter to be creative. If you cook, make babies, code, or grow things in your backyard, you are creative. If you make something from nothing – even if it’s just an idea, that’s a creation.
Case in point – I recently emceed a book launch for Joe Saul Sehai, the host of the Stacking Benjamins show. When I interviewed him on stage, I asked him what the inspiration for the book was, and he said – wouldn’t it be great to have a money book that wasn’t boring, but was actually structured like a Hardy Boy’s Mystery Novel? What???? How random and cool is that? PS – Joe has ADHD and he also produces the best podcast on money that you’ll ever listen to.
If you’re thinking – yes, I might have a creative bone in my body, but it’s laying there not doing anything, then this is a bigger conversation, but a necessary one.
We NEED to express ourselves. We need to tap that creative genius because that’s where our strengths are. I’m not telling you to quit your job and become a full time poet, but I am saying that your life will be less than optimal if you don’t give yourself the gift of space and energy to explore and express what’s inside you.
You have to do this. it’s your only way to live fully and freely. I mean this with every cell in my body, because I know from personal experience what if feels like not to channel your creativity and it’s absolutely suffocating.
So those 5 strengths are what I see as universal in ADHD. There is so much more at the individual level and I encourage you to explore what your strengths are and capitalize on them. If you don’t, I worry that you’l either spin your wheels trying to keep up with everyone else, or burnout because pushing your interest driven brain to do things it doesn’t want to do is like trying to get yourself out of quick sand, the harder you try, the deeper you sink.
I hope you find this helpful! If you want to explore your personal strengths at a deeper level and how you can design your life around them, then I’d love to work with you. The link to my coaching packages are in the description below. Until next time, take care and be well!