I’ve had the privilege of coaching a very special adult with ADHD (we’ll call him Joe) who has far exceeded the expectations of himself and others. But, if you ask Joe, his path to success is not complete. Today he finds himself in a constant process of self discovery.
His coaching began about four months ago and he was at his wit’s end. Early on in the coaching process we had discussed details of his medication and I recommended he speak with his MD about a slight adjustment. He responded well to his prescription adjustment. In our coaching, I worked with Joe, his wife, and his office assistant. I worked with Joe to define his personal ‘recipe’ for success, constantly tweaking his recipe. Don’t get me wrong, this is not about me. Joe was driven – reading, listening to audio tapes from the experts, constantly finding little things that worked for him and repeatedly re-inventing himself.
Nevertheless, he faced one remaining hurdle that continued to hold him back. Joe continued to judge himself and compare himself to standards of ‘generics’ (those non-ADHD individuals). I coached him around this for weeks. We focused on his grief regarding his early (pre-diagnosis) life that was painful and dotted with serial failures. Through our coaching, Joe eventually found a level of resolution and reinvented himself yet again. The key was his coming to an ‘acceptance of self’ and shifting his thinking from a ‘victim consciousness’ to one of self-empowerment.
We often utilized a scale of 1-10 to rate his level of performance. During a recent coaching session, Joe declared #10 as perfection and thus unattainable. In recent weeks he averaged his performance between 8.5 and 9. This is quite a contrast from his early coaching and he is very happy with these results. Meanwhile, his colleagues around the country have been writing him asking “what’s up?” Colleagues who were aware of his prior performance are now looking to him for ideas for success. Of course, Joe is very modest, “I have to thank Shire (his colleagues don’t understand the pharmaceutical joke) and coaching for my current success”.
In an email a few days ago Joe shared the following: “I had my semiannual review with the owner/president of (his financial company) yesterday and he was stunned with my (results) last year. At the end of my review he told me that he has conducted 7500 reviews over his career and mine (yesterday) was in his top 25 of all time. This to me was a big deal. He at one point (4 years ago) called me the biggest waste of talent he had ever met and that I was a massive disappointment to management. He was trying to motivate me, I understand, but it just compounded everything I had heard growing up. So for me, this was a sign the transition is working. People are noticing and want to know what is going on.”
This morning Joe shared his realization that he sometimes feels like an alcoholic, “once an adult with ADHD, always an adult with ADHD”. He realizes that ADHD requires constant vigilance and attention to his success recipe. Like the alcoholic, it is prudent for the adult with ADHD to consider those fundamental words from Alcoholics Anonymous, “just for today”. In his own words, “People (generic and ADHD’ers) need to understand what a powerful tool personal awareness is? It is that simple. Personal awareness is the ultimate tool, no matter who we’re talking about, but it is critical for the person who struggles with ADHD.”