Goodbye January! You always begin with so much promise. A month associated with valiant efforts (resolutions); excuses (“mom would be crushed if I didn’t have a big piece of her birthday cake), disappointments (“we need a new scale, this one says I gained five lbs. since last week!); and frustrations (“$3 a day for an annual gym membership only makes sense if you actually go to the gym more than three F@#*&%G days a month!) But, tomorrow starts a new month, a fresh start! We can do this!!
“The most important step is…wow, I really like that cellphone case!” If you’re among the four percent of adults in the U.S. that have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), this may sound very familiar. I know, because I’m not only the president of Hair Club for Men… Dang! Sorry. I don’t mean to brag, but I have ADHD. (I’m not sure, but I think it may occasionally come out in my writing.) I haven’t always embraced it, but being diagnosed several years ago explained a lot!
ADHD impacts every aspect of my life, and, when used strategically, is an excellent excuse for not doing stuff at home. (Becky: “Weren’t you going to mow the lawn today?” Me: “Sorry, I got distracted. Darn you, ADHD! I’m out of town all week so let’s pay the neighbor’s daughter to do it.”) ADHD also made me a mediocre student and employee—my sincerest apologies to all my teachers and previous employers. I tried countless times to put on my grown-up pants and make it work. But, it never did.
Life can be challenging for people with a neurodevelopmental psychological disorder characterized by problems with focus, impulsivity, and activity levels. While the more extreme consequences of ADHD can include social exclusion, drug use, and even crime and imprisonment, people with ADHD often share the path I was on: academic under-performance, repeated job loss, and depression.
The fascinating thing is that many of the “negative” behaviors that made me a mediocre student and employee mirror “positive” behaviors commonly associated with successful entrepreneurs. Seriously! There are real scientific studies that say so!
I remember the exact day everything changed for me (but that’s a story for another Friday). With only the most important things in life left to lose—my marriage, my children, and life as I knew it—I started my own business. I couldn’t explain why, I just knew it was the right thing to do, so I did it. Now, I understand some of the reasons were ADHD-related:
- Impulsivity. For an ADHD entrepreneur, this can manifest as rapid decision making in situations that are important and can have a far-reaching (positive or negative) impact. Check.
- Impatience and Boredom. ADHD entrepreneurs are often easily bored, have difficulties waiting—especially to begin something new, are intolerant of delays (notably when they are due to the whims of others), and prefer small instant rewards to larger long-term rewards. Check.
- Novelty. ADHD entrepreneurs have a tendency to enjoy and pursue activities that are exciting, and they are open to new experiences, even when risk is involved. They tend to put more weight on upside potential than the downside risk. And, check!
There was one last—and by far the most important—factor in breaking free of the excruciating ADHD weight I carried from childhood to college, and on to my adult life, which allowed me to start my own business almost 20 years ago. My spouse, Becky. She
never seldom sometimes regularly thought I should give up, always often occasionally rarely thought I would be successful, and she has unconditionally loved and supported me in every way possible for more than 30 years.
That’s a wrap on another Fridays with Frank. Thanks for spending a small part of your day with me, and have a great weekend!
Posted by Frank Cania, president of HR Compliance Experts LLC.
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