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"

Famous, Successful People with ADHD… should we be Inspired by them?

Every now and then I will come across the strangest suggestions and the oddest questions. I am sure you have too. One of the strangest suggestions I came across recently is that people, especially children, with ADHD should not look up to, aspire to be or admire successful people with ADHD. I suppose there may be several potential reasons for this idea: Having goals that are too high, fear they will suffer great disappointment aspiring to such greatness or be hurt if they discover that they can’t necessarily be exactly like their heroes.
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I guess we could call those reasonable reasons, but what I am getting from this are a few things that come directly to mind:

  • People with ADHD should not be inspired or motivated by people with ADHD who have gone before them and especially not those who have succeeded.
  • If you have ADHD you’re not good enough to aspire for greatness.
  • Only “normal” people can have heroes or be inspired by people who have succeeded.

I don’t know about you, but this just seems ridiculous for anyone not to dream big and be inspired by their personal heroes, especially if you have ADHD and see others with ADHD who have come before you and have been successful. Worse still is that I get the distinct feeling of contempt for these successful people with ADHD and their accomplishments when I come across such admonishments.
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Guarding our children (and ourselves) form disappointment is only natural. But to discourage them from being inspired from others who have ADHD like them I believe is unnecessary. In fact, I think it is important to expose children to many kinds of heroes and successful people to show them that success is not defined by what disorder one has but what a person can achieve with or without ADHD. Having ADHD is challenging and those who are successful despite it (or perhaps because of it?) should be lauded and appreciated. Having an inspiring person who drives you to do well academically and other places in life I don’t think should be discouraged.
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If Albert Einstein is a shining example of a successful person considered to have had ADHD, and if you have a picture of him on your wall with one of his many famous and inspiring quotes to inspire you, then I think that’s great! Are you going to be the next Albert Einstein? Well, probably not, but neither is any “normal” person or any prodigy for that matter. There may never be another Albert Einstein. However, that’s not the point. Perhaps, though, he will inspire someone to stay in school and continue studying mathematics or inspire someone to perhaps be a physicist.
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The point is that ADHD does not mean we are doomed to failure or that we cannot overcome and succeed. Yes, we can learn skills, yes we have talents and strengths and yes we are often better than people give us credit to be, even if we are better in areas that don’t seem important or relevant to ‘them’. Whoever ‘them’ is.
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If your hero is Richard Branson does that mean you must strive to own an airline and create the first commercial spaceship to take passengers to the edge of space? (That’s right, someone very special with ADHD is doing that. How cool is that?!) No, we don’t need to own an airline or strive to do that. Your goals and aspirations don’t have to be that lofty at all, but again, that’s just not the point. To assert such a thing is, well, uninspired.
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Most people do not have heroes to be ‘exactly’ like them or to become their next incarnation. It’s about being encouraged in some way by their accomplishments. “Someone” with ADHD has done well – “Heck, maybe I can, too!” And what’s wrong with that? Fear that the one inspired, encouraged or motivated might forget their limitations due to ADHD or that they will only fail? Or they will suffer heartache because they can’t be as good as their hero or idol? Let’s be real for a moment, don’t we all fail time and again, and we all suffer heartache whether we are inspired by successful people or not?
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Seriously?
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How many people seriously go around upset with themselves because they didn’t come up with the next commercial space airlines? Or how many people really, truly think that if they do not create the next airlines then they are failures or that they need to do so to be considered successful? Does anyone really say that, or think that? I hope not. I mean, really? I’ve never met a single such person. Have you?
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Perhaps being inspired by Richard Branson will also keep someone in school to learn how to become a rocket scientist or a business person. Or maybe being inspired by space flight might give someone the motivation and inspiration to write a wonderful story about a space adventure. Or maybe, just maybe, someone with ADHD will realize that ADHD doesn’t mean they are destined only to fail. Is that really so bad?
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Sometimes I think over protecting our ADHD children (or ourselves) from failure or disappointment goes too far. If people with ADHD should not be inspired, motivated or encouraged by successful ADDers then I think that’s a shame. Or maybe the goal is to see ADHD so negativity that we ignore or even, maybe, discount anyone’s success with ADHD? After all they absolutely must have been failures in some other aspect of their lives… right? Of course...
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My suggestion is just as it has been for thousands of years for people who have lived before us: Be inspired by your heroes and allow yourself to aspire for your kind of greatness, even if you have ADHD!
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Are we so unfortunate as people with ADHD that we should not be allowed to have dreams, aspirations or even people we look up to who have succeeded and gone before us? Should we ban books about them while we are at it?
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If however you’d like to be inspired by a few successful ADDers, consider:  Richard Branson, David Neeleman, Terry Bradshaw and Karina Smirnoff. That’s just for starters, there are thousands of others. Yes, many have struggled and many have failed more times than not, but people with ADHD have found ways to become successful. Instead of banning books about them or disregarding their success – how about discovering how they did it, what strategies they used and how about who inspired and motivated them?
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My personal point in this blog post: Show me someone successful, with or without ADHD, and I will show you someone who has heroes, who was inspired and motivated by successful people who had gone before them.
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One of the ideas I present in my latest eBook How to be Happy Every Day – even if you have ADHD is to be inspired by those who have succeeded, but I also go a step further and suggest also being happy for those who have, or are, succeeding and overcoming their struggles with ADHD. I think there is truth to the statement that if we cannot be happy for others, then we cannot be happy for ourselves. Even if we have ADHD we can have heroes, too, and acknowledge those who have succeeded with ADHD!
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More power to you!
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Inspiration is a spark that can ignite a fire within anyone to be greater than they thought possible in their own individual way, and I truly believe that even people who have succeeded who have ADHD can provide that spark and be an inspiration to others. When an aspiring artist admires the work of another artist, they do not want to create a work exactly like their favorite artist, but would rather find their own approach and create their own work. They may have originally picked up a brush because another artist inspired them-but what drives them to create their own art comes from within them.  Being inspired by someone may give someone else the ability to see that there are possibilities for them, even though those possibilities might be different.
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There’s nothing wrong with protecting a child (or ourselves) from disappointment, it is only natural, but at the same time allow them (or ourselves) to experience the possibilities that are out there for people with ADHD. Let them see what others have achieved (and how) so that they do not feel alone and perhaps they will become motivated in some unique way to excel in their own areas of interest.
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I have long admired and have been greatly inspired by Stephen King! I was put in a special education class for reading and writing in second grade, now I believe that thanks to being inspired by someone extraordinary (whether he has ADHD or not) I enjoy writing every day and I strive to become better at it! I am still not a fraction as good as Stephen King and I do not write horror or fiction for that matter, but hey, he did inspire me to take up writing and to continue learning about writing! What’s so wrong with that? I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, but what if I had not been inspired by him? Who knows? I don’t know, but maybe, just maybe, I would not be writing this blog today if he did not provide me with that special little spark of motivation, inspiration and desire. I’ve also been greatly inspired by Dr. Hallowell and his efforts to help encourage and motivate people with ADHD, but I have no desire to become a doctor! However, I still try to encourage and motivate in my own way.
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Who has inspired and motivated you? Do you think if you do not reach their heights or do what they did, then you’ll consider yourself a failure? Or, do you use the spark of inspiration and motivation to help you strive to reach your own individual ambitions?

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Thank you for reading this post, as you can tell it meant a lot to me to write it. I really think it is a shame if we should not be inspired, encouraged or motivated by successful people with ADHD! Hey, I might even design a space shuttle after all, or maybe I will write a book!

Now, go and do your-kind-of-special!

~Bryan
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