Leading with ADHD
Check out the article below written by On Purpose Adventures' own, Ben-Jamin Toy.
I was recently diagnosed with ADHD. Today, I want to share this part of my personal journey that has had a profound impact on my life. It's a topic close to my heart, and I believe it's essential to discuss mental health openly in our professional lives.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder affects approximately 2.5% of adults and 8.4% of children. The National Institute of Mental Health explains that ADHD presents in adults with the following symptoms:
- Inattention: Having difficulty paying attention
- Hyperactivity: Having too much energy or moving and talking too much
- Impulsivity: Acting without thinking or having difficulty with self-control
Can an individual be a good leader if they have ADHD?
My experience has shown me that leadership knows no bounds, and having ADHD does not define our potential.
Understanding Who You Are Beyond ADHD
When I received my diagnosis, I didn't allow it to become an all-encompassing label. I don't write off my faults because of the diagnosis.
Instead, I chose to embrace it as an opportunity for growth and self-awareness. I acknowledged my faults but refused to use ADHD as an excuse for my shortcomings. Knowing my ADHD symptoms, I realized the importance of managing them to improve different aspects of my life where I'd once resigned to saying, "That's just how I am."
The diagnosis brought a deeper understanding of myself. Having lived with these traits my whole life, I now have a word to describe the things that make me different. Nothing changes in who I am, just my understanding of myself shifts to accompany this new term.
Living with ADHD and Making Positive Changes
Since my diagnosis, I've been taking proactive steps to improve my quality of life. Here are some changes I've made that have had a significant impact:
- Creating structure in my day: Implementing a daily routine and setting clear goals have been instrumental in keeping me focused and on track.
- Exercising: Regular physical activity has proven to be an excellent outlet for my excess energy, promoting better focus and well-being.
- Taking proactive action (not procrastinating): I've learned to address my attention deficiency head-on, which is helping me become more emotionally present (still have a long way to go) and less easily distracted.
- Addressing the attention deficient part: This is crucial for me because it's why I seem emotionally unavailable, easily bored and distracted.
Throughout my life I have benefited from the hyper part of ADHD. I was super productive, ambitious and positive.
But 2020 forced me to slow down. I was given the gift of free time. During this break, I realized how little I could control my work habits without deadlines.
It didn't matter how driven or dedicated I was. My brain simply didn't allow me to complete tasks in a calm and methodical way.
Leading On Purpose with ADHD
Many might wonder whether ADHD can coexist with effective leadership. I firmly believe it can, and here's why:
- Unique Perspective: Individuals with ADHD often possess a unique way of seeing the world, fostering creativity and innovative problem-solving.
- Adaptability: Dealing with the challenges of ADHD requires adaptability, making leaders with ADHD resilient and flexible in various situations.
- Empathy: Having faced their share of struggles, leaders with ADHD can be more empathetic towards team members, creating a supportive and understanding work environment.
- Drive and Passion: Hyperactivity can be channeled into incredible drive and enthusiasm, propelling leaders with ADHD to pursue their goals with unwavering determination.
I share my journey with ADHD openly to encourage a greater understanding of mental health in the workplace and beyond. I believe that embracing our unique qualities and challenges empowers us to become better leaders and individuals.
If you or someone you know is navigating life with ADHD, know that you are not alone, and there is immense strength in seeking support and understanding. Together, we can work towards a more inclusive and compassionate work culture.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences on this topic.