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"

The Incredible Frustrating ADHD Drive to Achieve

In December I published a blog post about creativity and ADHD. Although I believe creativity is a natural phenomenon in all people to different degrees, I expressed why I believe people with ADHD are more creative than others who do not have ADHD. A study about ADHD and creativity was released this month, 3 months after I posted my article. The study basically supports what I wrote in December and have written several times prior. I did not know about the study at the time I posted my article.

You can read my blog post about creativity and ADHD here. Then please feel free to compare it to the recently released findings of the study about creativity and ADHD here.

Before more studies about the positive aspects of ADHD come out, and I am sure they will, I want to tell you about why I believe people with ADHD seem to have a very strong desire to achieve and find victory than most people without ADHD. However, even with this stronger desire to achieve and find success, most people with ADHD tend to hinder themselves due to the majority of their ADHD symptoms in combination with the standards and rules of today’s modern education system and, the standards and rules of policy in today’s overall society.

Up to now, from what I have read in many places online, the consensus seems to be that people with ADHD who have such a strong desire to succeed and push forward are compensating and self-medicating to overcome stigmas, low self-esteem and simply to prove to themselves that they can overcome or succeed.

Yes, it is true that these factors may play a role, especially the older we get and the more we knock ourselves three steps back after taking two steps forward.  However, this explanation takes a lot of credit away from people and puts it into the category ‘in spite’ or ‘despite’ of having ADHD they did it anyway!I’ve always found this to be incredibly insulting, even though I admit that I have also bought into it from time to time. Unfortunately, I see a lot of people buying into this dark cloud of ADHD rationalization.

Let me tell you what I reflected on while writing my new book about children with ADHD for parents and teachers. It is well known that people with ADHD react positively to rewards and instant fulfillment. This is seen in the very young with ADHD even BEFORE the ramifications of having ADHD has played a significant role in their lives. This is very important to note that the strong desire is already typically present at very young ages. Of course, the frustration and let downs come later and also play a role, but I tend to believe that the frustrations from let downs put a damper on the strong desire to achieve and find success and NOTthe opposite as I have read so often. That’s my opinion. Later, in the person with ADHD’s life this strong desire to achieve and find victory gets confused and it’s forgotten or not recognized that this desire isn’t something new, but probably has been there since their earliest years of their lives.

When I first started playing pool (billiards) at a competitive level a mentor of mine noticed that I seemed to be playing with the ‘breaks’ on. In other words I was not letting go and not playing to my potential. Well, that was true and it took me a long time to unlearn many things that were holding me back. Eventually, when I started unlearning certain things I started to play more freely and I started to allow myself to want, desire and strive! When I started doing those things, I started to win! Billiards is a highly competitive, mental game, much like chess. It’s been noted time and time again that such mental games mirror one’s real life issues. In order to strive in such sports or games, it is imperative to become whole as a person in the game and out of the game.

What I am saying here in this post is that children with ADHD already have a strong desire to achieve and succeed at a very young age, before their other ADHD symptoms start to play havoc in their lives. The problem isn’t necessarily the strong desire to achieve, but rather the circumstances in the education system where they do not always receive the type of learning in the ways that they need it, such as one on one tutoring, smaller classrooms and an overall understanding for their specific symptoms. This happens at home and elsewhere as well, where instead of finding an ADHD child’s triggers for doing the right thing and their desire to achieve and receive rewards they may be punished or forced to learn and do things in ways that are extremely difficult for them.

The next time someone says that a person with ADHD is self-medicating because of their strong desire to find success and achievement or is overcompensating, think about it for a moment. Consider that maybe that’s not really the case. They are not necessarily finding ways to soothe the affects of their ADHD. Maybe, just maybe they are doing what comes naturally to them and is a part of their ADHD already. It is so difficult for us because we are fighting against a system that in some cases is stacked against us!

In the right circumstances the ever strong desire to achieve and succeed is what has provided many of the breakthroughs throughout history! If people just give up in the face of defeat then mankind would not have taken so many steps forward. Sure we don’t want to see people with ADHD suffer from such a strong desire to achieve and yet fail miserably over and over again. But then again, failure is often the necessary path which may eventually lead to success. Sometimes, because someone with ADHD frequently fails at something they desire so deeply, it is perceived that their failure is because of their ADHD and not part of their learning process. It’s no wonder that so many eventually start to find their way in their 40’s and later, when they ultimately abandon, or unlearn, as in my case, what they have been taught over the course of their lives – lessons that are intended for a different type of thinking and learning.

People with ADHD learn differently, they absorb lessons differently and they have overall different ways of doing things, but when we are trying and trying to do things in the ways people without ADHD do them, that my friends and neighbors can be the most painful way of living life. I think what I have written here is so important to consider, because it is easy to say someone with ADHD is self-medicating or overcompensating, but the fact of the matter may be that they are just trying to do what comes natural and are pushing against an unmovable wall of standards and policies for learning and accomplishing things that may never work for them.

For me I have learned that the problem isn’t my strong, unceasing desire to achieve, it’s all the other stuff that gets in my way. When I try to conform and do things in ways that do not come natural to me I feel terrible, my mind spins out of control and I overall feel just plain inadequate. However, when I find my way and do things in the way my mind understands and feels comfortable with, that’s when my strong desire to achieve has direction and meaning.

There was a time when my strong, never ending desire to write tormented me. I would sit at a table staring at a blank page, trying to create an outline and come up with a great structure for a good book. However, I just couldn’t do it.It drove me crazy. I wished so desperately that I didn’t have such a strong desire to write, and that way I wouldn’t hurt so much, because of that desire. Then something happened. One fateful day when I began writing the story of my life, I didn’t really think about it too much, I simply started at the beginning with absolutely NO PLAN and just wrote and wrote and wrote, and it was like walking on clouds. For the very first time I couldn’t stop writing.

Every rule, every standard, and every policy I had learned to start writing a book went out the window and I wrote my first book One Boy’s Struggle, my way. I’ve never looked back and I have never, never consider a dreaded outline again. I just write. Eight books later, I am still writing and I write so prolifically that folks would think I do nothing else! And that’s not true either. Actually, my life is more fulfilling than it ever has been. I travel, work, play and have wonderful adventures with my wife.

I’ve learned it’s not about correcting our strong desire or honing it, or making it effective or whatever, it’s about finding our way to make the most of it in the ways our brains work! I now realize that when trying so hard to make something effective, I have less desire, less passion and it is incredibly frustrating. But, when I do it my way, without full consideration or plan, my mind is allowed the freedom to work it out the way that works best for me.

What works for you? Something works for you, I am sure of it. Discover it and everything changes.

~Bryan

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