No – it’s not normal.
Yes – you can turn it into a superpower.
My open letter to entrepreneurs, executives, and agency owners with diagnosed or undiagnosed ADHD.
I had the privilege of working with some of the most talented, visionary, and hard-working entrepreneurs, executives, and agency owners worldwide. But – talent, vision, and work ethics are not enough to take their business to the next level. Over the last decade, I have seen a class of people deal with this one problem – knowing something is important but ridiculously failing to prioritize it.
I use the word “ridiculous” because I know exactly how they feel in that position. Unfinished projects, missed deadlines, and the anxiety of realizing all the pending work. On top of that – they deal with the pain, shame, and regret of letting down their loved ones, family, friends, and even investors.
Is it normal?
On the other side of the same scale are people who have the same hours daily and more energy, clarity, courage, focus, and influence to get things done. Who are these people? What do they have that our other beloved group of people lack? It is not a privilege, upbringing, resources, or even education; it is the thick line that divides the neurotypicals from the neurodivergent.
Neurotypicals are people whose cognitive functions work the way a healthy adult’s brain should. Neurodivergent are people who have to deal with self-regulation, self-motivation, and impulse control issues. One thought comes after the other, and they are left with myriad unfinished tasks. The day passes, and the people depending on them are left waiting. How do I know this? I have been one of the neurodivergent for a long time and have met hundreds from the community.
After all these years of getting out of my way, I have learned – the neurodivergent experience is not typical. But it is entirely acceptable. And more importantly – it is possible to turn the neurodivergent experience into a superpower and unleash explosive growth for your business without losing sight of your calendar.
What is at the heart of this neurodivergence?
I am not a medical doctor or a psychologist. So, everything I say comes from years of personal experiences, working with people with ADHD, and being a part of expert groups at industry forums representing people with neurodivergence.
Over 3.5% of the population in the United States has ADHD. Because of the shame or lack of access to resources/information, many of them will go undiagnosed. But all of them – probably you and I – share the same traits:
Read this list – and see if you identify with five or more traits:
Poor attention to detail: You make careless mistakes at work. Examples: Sending the wrong invoice to the bad client, emails without attachments, promising to see a friend when you have an appointment, etc.
Diminished attention span: You have a tough time focusing on one task for a long time. Example: Filing for taxes is dreadful, and so is attending those business seminars.
Poor listening skills: You are distracted when people are talking directly to you. Example: You fail to capture details from conversations with your partners or prospective clients.
Difficult in following detailed instructions: You have many projects, and side hustles you started. But none of them seem to reach completion.
Disorganized: Look at your workstation or filing cabinet, which is what a cluttered personal space and perhaps ADHD looks like.
Avoid tasks that require concentration: Have to meet your accountant? Maybe next quarter. Have to complete these dozen forms? Probably tomorrow. You manage to avoid these tasks – every single time.
Loses things: Do you know exactly where are your important documents, phone, keys, etc. at all times? You are not alone. But this is also not normal.
Easily distracted: Everyone can hear the argument on the street or wanders into thinking about the weekend plans. But – you cannot help yourself from staying away from these thoughts and focusing on your task.
Forgetful: You enter a room and forget why did you come here. You fail to run chores. And so on!
If you have five or more of these traits, I would strongly recommend seeing a specialist and getting assessed for ADHD.
If you do not have five traits but are still close to identifying with most of these issues – read further.
Running a Rocket with a Refrigerator’s Manual
The same entrepreneurs, executives, and agency owners I meet daily tell me – Hassan, I might have ADHD, but I can deal with it. I read this book on organizing, and I feel so good now!
Yes – you do feel good. But, guess what – that feeling will fade away. You might not even remember how it felt to finish that book in a couple of weeks. This is because you are trying to run a rocket with the manual for a refrigerator.
The usual modes of scheduling, organizing, and planning are designed for the neurotypical crowd – the people who don’t have to go to war with themselves to finish the most basic tasks. On the other hand, you and I have a different ballgame to be played.
For us – the task is not just a bunch of sub-tasks on a calendar that we can finish and move on. For you and I, there are 2x tasks – we have to finish whatever needs to be completed and make sure we do not get distracted by other things that pop into our heads.
This is why we need more energy, focus, clarity, courage, and influence than neurotypicals to take things into our hands.
So, what is the solution?
I am so glad you asked.
Feel the Change with Performance Coaching
There are many ADHD coaches, business coaches, and scalability consultants, and I respect them and usually love their work. The only thing I do differently takes a different angle that I believe is more important than teaching productivity principles or business principles – they are not two other problems.
The same problems of self-regulation, self-motivation, and impulse control that create problems in your work life are the root causes of problems in personal relationships (family, intimate relationships, friends, and social relationships) and your relationship with yourself (spiritual growth, physical wellbeing, community initiatives, and recreational activities.)
Performance Coaching pushes all these problems out of our perspective and dials down on learning to have more energy, clarity, focus, influence, and courage. Just so we are on the same page, let me define these “superpowers” for us:
Energy: You have the mental and physical capacity to finish the task.
Clarity: You know all the steps between what you are doing right now and what should be your end goal – along with a timeline.
Focus: You can simultaneously channel all your energy and thinking capacity onto one task.
Influence: You can inspire action in others.
Courage: You know you have the right to believe in something, and you can communicate your beliefs.
Now – imagine – you had these capabilities at your disposal and could harness them whenever you wanted. What would life be like?
I believe that if we can learn how to have more energy, clarity, focus, influence, and courage – we can solve the significant challenges that ADHD throws us and affects our business, relationships, and communities.
Instead of trying to learn how to be more productive or have an organized calendar – we have to learn how to unlock these superpowers. Meaningful productivity would find its way onto our schedules.
The superpowers are just behaviors they have to learn for the neurotypical individual. But, neurodivergent tend to be more sensitive to information, feelings, events, and people. With more clarity, energy, courage, influence, and focus – they can turn this sensitivity into information-processing and action-taking superheroes. While the neurotypical is going for business as usual, the superpowered neurodivergent will sense the changes in the environment and run circles around the competition.
If that resonates with you, I want you to take a deep breath and connect with me. We will talk about you and your challenges for 30 minutes and see how my process can help you deal with your diagnosed/undiagnosed ADHD. If this letter made you think – I am confident there is something we can do together to improve your situation.
And, if not – I would be more than happy to learn about your opinion – even if you oppose my views. Please reach out to my team and I on – email@example.com, and I promise an educated discussion 😊
Either way, I see you on the other side of the problem.