Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Gen. George S. Patton, Walt Disney, and many of the most creative people in the world are known to have had ADD or ADHD (AD/HD). Creativity is born of original thought…or is it? When we look at this short and random list of creative problem solvers, you might just think they had the good fortune of a great education. Perhaps it was great parenting or it could be luck…but it’s their AD/HD.
What gives us our natural creative problem solving abilities is that we lack the disconnect between our conscious and subconscious present in neurotypical people; we freely tap into our massive, natural computer bank. That is why we blurt things out during a meeting or do things that are perceived as impulsive. However, with these special “superpowers” come some challenges; normally this happens because we were taught how to learn by people who do not understand how we process information.
I learned this painful lesson as a corporate executive. I had great abilities in so many areas, but I did not function well within the neurotypical corporate culture. So, I began creating my own systems and processes that meshed well within the corporate mechanism; my special abilities allowed me to take a failing business unit to being three times more profitable than others within the organization. Meanwhile, my wife completed her master’s degree in counseling and became a recognized expert in the treatment of AD/HD; eventually we created The Superhero Boot Camp to provide tools for people with AD/HD to use in successfully managing their superpowers.
Most people waste about 91% of our productive time. There are a number of techniques that can be used to increase our ability to be more productive and be a superhuman performer.
1. Physical Organization: Many of us have what appears to be a messy or disorganized workplace; rarely are those of us with AD/HD disorganized in our mental processing skills. We organize differently and many tools developed for the neurotypical world do not work well for us. We tend to store information in a non-linear fashion, similar to a computer hard drive. Organizing in a linear fashion is more easily accomplished for the AD/HD person within a communal environment. That means bringing in an assistant, a coworker, or a spouse. Making it a game or a competition is also helpful. Make sure you trade the person that helped for your time doing something they need.
2. Creating a Home for Things: One of my clients has placed foam in his desk drawers with cutouts for his working tools. Everything he uses is color coded by work station and department; in this manner, everyone knows where things go: for instance, yellow tools belong in the shipping department and each tool has a place. At home, I have labeled shelves and containers to remind me where things belong. Many times I am involved in creative thought and minutiae is not critical to me, but out of respect for those around me I return items to their proper place…eventually.
3. Standardize the Simple Stuff: Establish simple, best practices for yourself. Occasionally – okay, really often — I would lose things like a pen. The solution is having a huge cup of pens on your desk, rather than spending time hunting for the pen you misplaced. Superman didn’t have a place for his wallet or a pen in that Spandex suit of his. One of our clients has manufacturing work stations and the workers on the assembly line use many different drill bits. Rather than worrying about lost or broken drill bits, he had containers made that hold about 25 drill bits and each is color coded by size. Dont sweat the small stuff; leverage your time for what is important.
4. Leverage Time: Focus on what is most important. I have a sticker over my computer monitor that says, “What is the most important thing you should be doing?” Borrow from the Japanese practice of kaizen: continuously improve the things you do; if required, make it a game or personal competition. Understand that for many of us, taking that detour in thinking is important to our thought process. Personally, I will talk out loud during a meeting while sketching on a whiteboard. That is how I get my most creative ideas out. Without apology, I will stop the meeting and inform any new people that speaking my thoughts actually helps my creative process. The meeting last 15 minutes longer, but we will solve an important problem.
5. Core Values & Balance: I learned the art of meditation to quiet my mind. As part of that, I focus on the core elements of my life that are important to my success: health & fitness, spirituality, relationships, and my business goals. Learning to consciously focus on what is important is learned. Being absolutely focused on your core mission enables you to resist the “bright shiny objects.”
During the year I will be writing about the discoveries we have made and providing solid tools and methods on transforming your genius into superpowers.
ADD is a medical condition that usually requires the assistance of experts. Should you be experiencing serious issues such as depression or other feelings of hopelessness, consult a professional or call 911 immediately.
Since the mid-1990s Carl Hartman has been working in senior management at television networks and his own agency, developing innovative formats for digital marketing content as well as consulting with businesses to refine their business systems & logic, soft skills, and marketing to drive their success. Based in Denver and Los Angeles, Carl’s education includes a mix of coaching modalities, creative, and business disciplines.
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