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"

Success, Opportunities and ADHD

How do you define success with ADHD? When I hear the word success I wonder what each person defines it as. I have always said success is what you define it. Here are 6 things I now have the opportunity to define as success with ADHD for me:

  1. Paid the monthly bills on time. I have automatic payments, so I don’t have to worry about most of them. There are other payments I have the opportunity to pay on time by making it to the bank on time, and I do for the most part.
  2. Made it to most of my appointments on time. It’s awesome when I am there 5 minutes early and have the opportunity to unwind first. The key is using my appointment calendar on my Smartphone and setting multiple alarms and not making appointments I may not need.
  3. Followed through on promises. Most of them anyway, and I still have the opportunity to work on meeting some of them. I keep promises to a minimum to what is absolutely necessary.
  4. Cast everything I can in a positive frame. I didn’t say everything ‘reasonable’, I have the opportunity to look for the positives in everything (that’s my secret). When my mind tends to wander I pick up a good book that is positive and inspiring and start reading. Or, I watch an inspiring movie, or even better, Joan and I go out and enjoy ourselves together. I also visit our ADDer World network and read the many posts there. Actually, there’s so many things I do to get my mind back on track in a positive lane, so that should probably be a separate post (stay tuned, that’s a promise) – one thing I DO NOT do is read or watch anything that will draw me into a slump or agree with any negative thoughts or feelings I might temporarily have.
  5. I listen and ask questions when in a conversation. I trained myself to do this. I used to tune people out after the first few words; therefore, I have successfully learned to repeat back to myself what they are saying and ask questions. This is twofold really, because when I ask questions the person realizes and appreciates that I am truly interested. The key is to know that when someone talks they do it to be listened to and not simply heard, asking a question gives me the opportunity to give them verification that I have listened and am striving to understand further. Now when I ignore someone, it is usually on purpose. Just kidding, sort of.
  6. I now see my ADHD symptoms as opportunities and not problems. This is something I learned in therapy. To value myself and everything about me, whether I asked for it or not (I didn’t), I have ADHD and it is a part of me. Seeing things as opportunities circumvents the tendency to slip into a defeatist’s mindset and instead discover ways to utilize those opportunities. Seeing things as problems jams up the mind, because a problem translates to the mind in the form of something like a stoplight. Just think about it: When you have a problem to overcome something, how do you feel? How do you feel when you have the opportunity to do something? Maybe even use it to your advantage if you see it that way? This may be a problem for some people to use this view for themselves and it may be an opportunity for others to use this view, which one is more likely to have success? When I think of something as a problem my mind stalls and it comes up with all kinds of defeatist hypothetical’s that hold me back. When I see something as an opportunity my mind roars to full speed looking for possibilities and solutions. Call it a trick, or whatever you like, it works for me, and that, my friends, I do define as success.

Those are just a few things I define as success, for me. I try to follow the KIS method in everything I do: KEEP IT SIMPLE. The simpler, the better. I have learned to break everything down to its simplest form and go from there. Not everything needs to be complicated or a problem. I enjoy challenges now because I can break them down and see the opportunities within them. I learned this mostly from therapy, but I also used to have a powerfully positive thinking boss and I witnessed the truth in action. Back then we joked around the office about this boss and his way of motivating us, because, he called everything an opportunity and I mean everything. This boss would come to us with something extremely challenging, almost impossible, it seemed the situation was dire and he would never fail to say ‘this is a good opportunity’.

Yes, we used to joke about that boss’s mindset and how he called everything an opportunity, and yet, he’d always find a way. Years later he’s been promoted on and on. We joked, but he was the one laughing the most because he knew the secret. If you are going to succeed, no matter your circumstances, everything must be seen as an opportunity. Our first reaction was typically to list all the obstacles and pitfalls, but he wouldn’t have any of it and somehow, someway he always made it work, or rather, he made us make it work. Without his guidance those pitfalls and obstacles may have derailed us. When he was promoted and moved on, we saw the change quickly. Some of us though, we learned that the secret of success isn’t overcoming the pitfalls and obstacles, but rather how we see them and accordingly, use them. I have found this extremely useful in working with my ADHD as well.

Not everyone is aware of how powerful the way we view things truly is. Examine your own views and then examine where you are, do they match up? Please don’t see that as good or bad, simply the way it is and maybe work on your point of view, along with your symptoms of ADHD. Instead of asking, what have I got to lose? What about asking, what opportunity does this provide me

Having ADHD isn’t a choice, it’s not anyone’s fault and there are things in life that are completely out of one’s control, but how we view things is a choice. However, it’s not always easy to change, I know, but it is an opportunity to work on. We can start with the simple things and build from there on our personal journeys to self-awareness and improvement.

One of the things I noticed about myself is I wouldn’t take credit for the simple things I achieved, but that’s exactly where I needed to start – you can too, it’s an opportunity, and who knows, it may lead to success, even with ADHD!