Since I was about 10 years of age, I knew there was something different about me writes Connor Keppel
World renowned motivational speaker Les Brown once said, “The reason most people in life don’t succeed is not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.” These words have never been truer for many adults and children diagnosed with ADHD.
Since I was about 10 years of age, I knew there was something different about me. Everybody seemed to move so slow, talk so slow and much of life seemed boring and unnecessary. I was bored in school, couldn’t sit still, questioned authority and simply felt that everything was too conventional.
It felt almost like a form of mental claustrophobia - I wanted to scream and break free, and in my early years I often did. This inevitably resulted in earning me the reputation of a hyperactive and difficult child and as a teen words like ‘intense’, ‘disobedient’ and ‘class-clown’ were often used to describe me.
At work In my early twenties, I read more and more about ADHD and at 23 I decided to see a specialist for a diagnosis. I knew what the answer was before I got there, but this would set it in cement. I remember walking away from the appointment after being diagnosed and picking up the phone to an anxious mother. She too knew what was coming.
Tears were shed and worry ensued, typical of any caring and loving parent. For me though, I strangely felt relieved. Driving down the M50 deep in thought I ambitiously set myself a life goal - I would never let ADHD define who I was, but I would use it to succeed in being the person I wanted to be. Now to say those words again: “The reason most people in life don’t succeed is not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.”
For me that is the key to getting ahead or helping your children get ahead with ADHD. Don’t set them or yourself up to ‘cope’, but strive to succeed and embrace the many virtues and talents that ADHD can help you hone. There are so many virtues to ADHD. So many things we can do better.
The Big Picture
Big picture thinking: People with ADHD have an exceptional ability to see the big picture. Give me a 100 piece jigsaw and I’ll see in seconds how it goes together — the only problem is, I find it really hard to know which piece I should start with.
People with ADHD not only want to focus on what interests us but we feel instinctively that we need to and we always think about the big picture. Now throw obsession, passion and strategy into something and you will truly make a difference — a big one
Multi-tasking: when harnessed, we can manage multiple projects, people and tasks with a finesses that others never will. This is often perceived as a lack-of-focus
Low tolerance for the insignificant or unimportant: We are not good at spending time or energy on things they don’t like. When you learn to filter this and embrace it, you will only ever spend time in life on things that matter to you and your dream. Not many people can say that
Raising Children with ADHD
My parents knew something was different about me. Being born in ‘86 though meant that there was little information on it and even less diagnosis. However, by chance, my parents were the ultimate parents for someone with ADHD.
Their philosophy on parenting helped me have an active and happy childhood and I developed into a highly ambitious go-getter. Their three parenting philosophies were acceptance, encouragement and autonomy.
They helped me accept what was changeable, not changeable and if I wasn’t happy with something, they never tried to force it on me. That’s the thing with children and adults with ADHD - we have a low tolerance for things that don’t interest us, but how are we to find our passion without trying new things?
Many parents steer children to do what they want their children to do - not mine and that is critical with children who have ADHD. You need to let them have 50 hobbies. The more they get through and the quicker it happens the better. In fact by 18 I was a skateboarder; choir boy; soccer nut; lead guitarist; pianist; aspiring palaeontologist; gamer; wannabe fashionista; devout Christian; raver; aspiring pilot and golfer.
Not one of these things even REMOTELY holds my interest 10 years later. None! When I went to college I found a true passion for marketing. It has a strange mix of psychology, numbers and creativity and for the past 10 years I have given everything to it and absolutely adore it.
People with ADHD often have a hard time in the education system. This comes back to being forced to do the things we don’t want to. When I found marketing to be my passion, I got a first-class honours degree.
If you help your child or yourself embrace the virtues of ADHD you will accept the failures as ‘whatevers’ and learn that they are minor blips on the way to finding a life where you will shine. You are attention different - not attention ‘deficit’.
I truly encourage you to think of ADHD as a gift and strive everyday to unwrap it. But above all, please don’t try to cope, but succeed. That is how I have turned a ‘disorder’ into the greatest gift I was ever given.
Connor Keppel is Head of Marketing and Growth for Phorest, a Global leader in appointment and marketing software for hair and beauty salons