Today’s article comes from Chris Villafano out in Round Rock, TX. He asked after one of my speeches I gave in Austin, “Is your ADD a blessing or disadvantage?”
Truthfully I probably have ADD but I have never been diagnosed for it. The reason why I want to address this issue is because Chris’ question is not the first time I have been asked this. In fact, I get questions about ADD and ADHD a lot (Whether I have it, what you can do to stay focused if you have it and how can you use it to your advantage?). With these questions, they usually come with shyness or looking at having ADD/ADHD as a weakness and that is the wrong way to look at having ADD in my opinion! So it is about time we address the issue!
If I objectively look at my speaking style it is definitely, and not purposely, geared towards focusing on those with ADD. I tell a very very short story, often give relevant tangents to drive home my point, give my point and move on to the next tip, strategy or story! I take about two or three minutes on each point and move on!
If you have been to one of my workshops or keynotes you know it is not uncommon to hear 30 stories in a hour keynote and gain 15+ new strategies! I mean I teach two-hour workshops and one of the most common things I hear afterwards is “I literally thought I was here for 20 minutes” or “I have ADD, how did you keep me engaged the entire time?”
Did I plan to make my presentations geared towards those with ADD? No! Do I think those who don’t have ADD still enjoy my presentations and workshops? Absolutely! Because if you can engage, entertain and educate someone who might have a short attention span or trouble focusing, think of what you can do for those who are not diagnosed with ADD?
As a leader, here are four reasons why your ADD/ADHD is a good thing and why it shouldn’t distract you!
1) It is more common then you think = According to The American Psychiatric Association states that 5% of children have ADHD and is growing almost 1% a year. Studies in the US have estimated higher rates in community samples. It is estimated that 60% of those will continue to have symptoms that affect their functioning as adults.
2) It makes you unique = One thing I learned working at Special Olympics is that our athletes didn’t have disabilities, we all have different abilities and if we focus on the ones that make us great then the world will be better, our life will be better and those around us will be better. Be proud of what makes you unique, focus on minimizing what distracts you so you can be more productive and keep adding value to those you serve!
3) Major celebrities, successful people and athletes are diagnosed with having ADD = Look at this list of celebrities who have ADD! If anyone is making fun of you or trying to tell you that you don’t have it, who cares! Look at these brilliant minds who do and remind yourself you are part of a group of people who have changed the world, broken records, grew billion dollar businesses and deliver valuable content to millions! If you do have ADD you should remind yourself it is a blessing!
4) You will add more value to those you serve = Where some speakers might share three stories and three points, I might share 15 engaging stories and give 15+ strategies that empower leaders to be better speakers on stage! They are easy to remember, easy to share and easy to use giving the audience member value they can use! Remember… you are valuable!
If you are struggling with your ADD and feel like you are not being able to accomplish anything, take on too many tasks or get easily distracted which leads to you not being able to be productive then take time to accomplish something small. What one small step can you take right now, this minute, the help you accomplish the goal you have for yourself?
We all get distracted! We have social media alerts on our phone as we are typing on our computer, while sitting in a coffee shop, listening to music as someone is trying to talk with us and you are thinking about what article you want to write, what your family is doing and hearing the email chime that lets you know you just got two new emails (literally this is happening as I speak).
So what I have to do sometimes, is turn off my wifi, wake up early so I won’t get distracted from text messages or social media alters and sit at my computer and get things done. I just had to remind myself to turn off wifi, turn off my phone, get out of that coffee shop and finish it in a quiet area. I am constantly reminding myself to stay focused. Identify when you are most productive and take charge of being in charge or getting rid of those things you know distract you from making your dreams happen.
With anything in life, how you look at it, changes everything. If you think of it as a negative, it will be negative. If you see it as a positive it will be. If you don’t even realize it and live your life focusing on delivering valuable content then that is what you will become; known as someone who might have ADD but they add value to those they serve. Whenever you feel like you are down or your ADD is distracting you and in the way, review the list of celebrities who have ADD and what contributions they have made! You too can fit that group one day!
Remember to keep using your voice to make a difference and as always…
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Join the discussion 6 Comments
Great post! Thank you for sharing.
I have ADD, and I agree strongly with what you have said, Ryan. I wasn’t diagnosed until college, but once I was, I could see all the signs in hindsight. While it can be difficult at times, I’ve found that it gives me a slight edge when it comes to brainstorming and problem-solving. It allows me to mentally generate a lot of possibilities and scenarios. I think it also helps with my creativity. Sadly, in today’s culture, ADD comes with a strong stigma. And as someone who works in a corporate environment, I know that it often is viewed as a negative characteristic my management.
Thanks for sharing Chris I am glad you like the article. I agree we need to take a new look at what having ADD means and how those who are diagnosed with it can and do add value.
I tell parents that they can change their ADD child to fit their environment or change their environment to fit their child. Changing the environment is easier. ADD must be here because it confers some advantage–being calmer during an emergency, being able to multi-task, being impatient with the unimportant., or getting to the point faster.
I’ve stopped calling ADD a disorder and I just call it “attention deficit” and I’m learning to help others find their ideal environment. Great article.
Thanks Glenn. Great insight and way to look at ADD.