Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

Focusing on the negative and ignoring the positive: the inflexibility of trial and error learning.

Every day we find ourselves in different positions and situations, some are great and some we would rather not be in. There is a lot of negativity out there and there are a lot of positive things out there and yet some of us feel like each day is a struggle for survival not really giving any positive influences the credit they deserve. Some of us even get to the point that when something positive occurs we automatically assume something negative will develop from it. For this rationality we draw from past experiences, often expanding the negative experiences beyond what they originally were about. In my opinion, for us Adders, this is related to our necessity to learn from trial and error as youths and further develops as adults when we refuse to learn from what has been proven by history and believe trial and error is the only way.

As adults, trial and error learning can be a long road to nowhere and in some cases it can be the cause of self-destruction. Trial and error learning can become such a habit that we simply refuse to learn or perform tasks which are required to be done a certain way, especially when it is not ‘our’ way. Furthermore, when we live by trial and error we do not listen well and take every suggestion as criticism, even if we know the suggestion is right.

As a young man in my teens I loved to play pool, it was my passion, I could Hyper-Focus for days while at the table and often would not leave until my stomach was empty and craving for food and water. I watched others who could play better and would dream of one day becoming a champion, but I had one major flaw: I would not listen to anyone and take no lessons. I understand today that my experiences as a younger person in school, where I was often in trouble and criticized for not paying attention, amongst many other things made me gun shy of lessons. I came to see lessons as excuses for people to criticize me and therefore I took on the insurmountable tasking of learning everything myself without anyone’s assistance. As the years passed I watched others who had started around the same time I did become better players and seemingly leave me behind. I started to believe that I couldn’t do it and whenever I played someone better and they noted that my stroke was off or my stance wasn’t solid I became defensive and walked away from whoever that was, thinking they had just said I was worthless and would never amount to a good player—worse even, I did the opposite of their suggestions. They didn’t say what I perceived and were trying to help, but my refusal to listen and learn from others made my mind twist what they said into something else. My stubbornness to learn on my own actually stunted and reversed my growth as a player. Not listening and understanding caused me to see everything as negative criticism. I couldn’t see help or sincere concern for what it was.

Sometimes I got in trouble as a youth and I deserved discipline and again due to past experiences I would become appalled for being disciplined for something and I determine that discipline meant I was worthless. The biggest problem with that is that I did not recognize what I was being disciplined for and made it encompass much more, which eventually led to me becoming frozen in self-doubt. In talking to other Adders I think we all share in this to some degree—even if our experiences are not exactly the same. Have you ever been disciplined for something very specific and instead of recognizing that the discipline was indeed specific, learning from it and moving on, you thought the discipline meant much more and spread it out over areas it wasn’t intended to cover—even areas you were previously confident in and had been praised for by the very same person who disciplined you for something entirely different? Confusing isn’t it? That’s what living by trial and error alone does. We all learn from trial and error to some degree, but when it is our main resources it can become mystifying, believing something is right and not realizing that a better way would bring the sought after advancement.

I eventually became a champion in pool—a winner! It turned out that those who passed me in advancement eventually became my fans and traveled with me from tournament to tournament. So, did learning from trial and error pay off and was it the reason I became a champion?

NO Learning from trial and error alone actually delayed my advancement. To make a longer story shorter I eventually came to understand that what I was doing was actually inhibiting me! (for the full story on this transformation read it in my forthcoming: “One Boy’s Struggle: A Memoir”) When I finally discovered that learning from a pro wasn’t a bad thing I started to develop into an advanced player, I learned the difference between random criticism of jealousy and constructive criticism designed for growth. By learning from a pro I learned that I did not know or understand the fundamental basics of pool—stance, stroke and even aiming. Once I listened and learned these important basics my whole game went to another level and by listening more and incorporating the experiences of others into my game, I became a champion! Another very, very important part of my transformation was the removal of all encompassing negativity from discipline. When the pro would move my hand from a wrong position into a correct position I no longer became horrified and think everything I was doing was wrong. Nope, it was just my hand that needed adjusting; my balance and stance for the rest were fine—previously I would have thought everything was wrong.


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