ADD and The 7 Deadly Sins
B. R. Madigan
ADD, What is it?
Can you have a touch of ADD, just like the flu? Well, I suppose you can. It’s all based on percentages. Traditionally, the most severe 5 % of cases were diagnosed clinically as suffering from ADD. This has been modified somewhat over the years so as to include the most severe 7%. However, all of these percentages are simply numbers on the bell curve. What if you are in the uppermost 12%? Would you not have some symptoms? Perhaps somewhat too impulsive or too disorganized, or too much of an underachiever compared to your peers!
In this regard, although not meeting the strict clinical conditions, a number of individuals who share ADD like symptoms would benefit from some kind of retraining or behavioural modification.
ADD, How does it effect you?
When examining those characteristics which contribute to success in life, in school and in business, it is interesting to see that they are almost the exact opposite of those issues which ADD individuals struggle with all the time. If you were trying to tell someone how to be successful, you might say “ get organized, get a plan, and stick to it, don’t delay, keep your priorities straight and in time, success will be yours”. Basically, that’s pretty good advice and it works. At least it works for most people. For those with ADD, it also works, but, the fact is that many with ADD cannot really put this simple advice to work in any meaningful and consistent way.
Why not? They truly wish to be successful! Well, yes, but wishing is not enough.
Like everyone else in order to be successful those with ADD will have to follow the same advice, even if they find it more difficult than others. Organization and planning have created wealth in society and raised us out of the animal kingdom. It was not “working well under pressure”, “being alert to an ever changing environment”, “being in the moment” or “opportunistic” which contributed much. It was planning and organization, and the full use of one’s intellect that allowed the creation of towns and cities, culture, communication and all of the successes that humans have enjoyed over the last 12,000 years.
I’m sorry, the ADD stuff is a way out of date. While Thomas Hartmann might like to use the metaphor of a “hunter in a farmer’s world”, there is not much need these days for prehistoric hunters. And the last astronaut that NASA needs is someone with ADD!
I do however appreciate the metaphor because it allows children to have a more positive feeling about an ADD diagnosis. This is good since it promotes self-esteem. Also, it doesn’t have a scientific basis. As Thomas Hartmann said himself “I just made it up”.
ADD – The Seven Deadly Sins
Certainly, the basic underlying flaw in all those who suffer from ADD is the failure to plan.
It is also a characteristic of those who find it easy to meet with success. They are good planners.
Procrastination is a very difficult problem for those with ADD. Often the first step is the most difficult and this step must be taken before one can enter onto the road to success.
Poor time management is usually a factor, as well as the inability to set priorities. As well the inability to focus sufficiently to get the task started is oftentimes the undoing of the procrastinator.
Organization is the goal. With ADD disorganization usually goes hand-in-hand. Planning is the process and organization is the result.
For someone with ADD, good organization is a repetitive and boring task. It’s easy to become distracted. Surely, anything is better than this.
This is to some extent a planning issue, but, fundamentally it is very related to time and the very poor relationship with it and grasp of it that those with ADD have.
On a consistent basis, those with ADD are always working on “Plan B”, and maybe “Plan C”. The important task, that is “Plan A”, never gets done. It never comes up to the top of the list, except in crisis. And, notwithstanding popular folklore to the contrary, those with ADD are really no better in a crisis than anyone else. Now, they do have more experience with crises, because they often create their own. But, they are not successful in managing their way out of a crisis.
Excellent communication skills is one of the very real and measurable assets shared by both leaders and those who strive for success. Rarely would you find a successful leader who is not also an excellent communicator.
In the case of those with ADD, the failure to communicate well is also a noteworthy element. For some reason, those with ADD are either very good communicators or very bad communicators. Rarely are they ever in the average range. In fact, they are often inconsistent communicators. The same person is an effective orator and at the same time omits an important and salient point from the speech.
Intransigence is very closely related to procrastination; it is like procrastination on steroids. At least, a procrastinator knows what he is supposed to be doing. He has a plan! Here, the problem is a fatal combination of lack of planning and procrastination. It’s like being stuck in a rut, and not knowing whether to go front or back.
Often there is a very real explanation for intransigence. It arises when the mental state of the individual is depressed. There is a high level of coincidence between clinical depression and ADD, and an even higher level between conditions somewhat less than “clinical” depression but significant enough to eliminate or reduce the individual’s self-motivation.
It is important to appreciate that there is nothing wrong with depression; it is a basic survival mechanism for all species. It allows one to accept their present surroundings and circumstances. It eliminates the conflict that might arise if the individual were otherwise strongly motivated.
The problem is that depression does not allow an individual to participate and enjoy life. In addition, it is a condition which is almost the antithesis of success.
This is the very important self-assessment that can encourage the individual to change. By assessing one’s abilities and opportunities, if the result is frequently or almost always “underachievement” then an individual can become quite dissatisfied. This type of assessment requires a logical and realistic approach before the individual can endorse change.
Once the individual accepts the analysis, the level of dissatisfaction may be sufficient to motivate and encourage change.