What does ADD mean?

ADD is short for Attention Deficit Disorder or ADHD for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s also abbreviated as AD/HD. Occasionally ADD is used for the non-hyperactive form of the condition, but normally the terms are used interchangeably.

Although this tendency has a medical diagnosis, it could also be viewed as a form of “differently wired brain” that is characteristic of pioneering visionaries and risk-takers, who often need a detail-oriented business partner or assistant in order to thrive.

Some experts refer to ADT for “Attention Deficit Traits” which emerge only during times of extra stress and overwhelm.

What are the ADD qualities and challenges?

ADDers are highly creative, restless and get bored easily. Their brains need to be highly stimulated with all distractions filtered out in order to stay on track. Two archetypal examples are the absent-minded professor and a child who daydreams in class.

These particular neurological differences mean that it is very hard to concentrate on something that doesn’t feel interesting. Trying harder to “just do it” causes the part of the brain used for focusing to simply shut down.

Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by most entrepreneurs with ADD is in follow-through and completion. Once the time has come to take systematic action to fulfill an idea, they can lose touch with their creative flow and prefer to return to the excitement of visioning yet another idea.

Another typical challenge is learning how to delegate rather than avoid those tasks that don’t come as easily – such as bookkeeping or organizing the office.

Doesn’t our western culture itself have ADD tendencies?

It’s true that modern culture itself has attributes of ADD, with the push toward fast-paced multi-tasking and sound bites. In both books recommended below, the authors propose that the higher rate of reported ADD in the United States (5 to 8 % of the population) could be due to the fact that it was founded by risk-taking pioneers.

The evidence indicates that the ADD condition is a combination of genetics and environment.

What are ADD strengths?

ADD strengths include a capacity for radically new thought and a passionate vitality that can inspire others. People with ADD thrive on adventure and complexity. They also have a paradoxical capacity to hyperfocus on a single mission or a single task if they find it intellectually stimulating.

How can I build on these strengths?

If you have ADD, it’s very important to use your strengths and to delegate those areas that require setting up systems and organizing details. Trying to force yourself to do work you find tedious will cause neurological shut-down.

Therefore, it is especially important to choose work that you love, or you will be at cross-purposes. Pick a mission that expresses your values, and with minimal paperwork and politics.

Experiment with ways to keep your brain stimulated while you are working. Consider playing music, pacing while you think, or even just standing at your desk. Set challenges for yourself. Take breaks and reserve time to totally let loose when you are done. Use organizational systems that are bright and colorful to the eyes.

Regular exercise stabilizes your brain chemistry and is very important. If possible, exercising right before you work on a critical project will bring you extra focus and clarity.

Get help from a partner, professional organizer or coach in setting up external structures to support your focus. Direct your capacity to hyperfocus toward positive uses. Don’t let to-do piles accumulate.

The most important thing you can do is to learn as much as you can about what conditions bring out the best in you, and to stop beating yourself up for not fitting into the standard mold. Celebrate your uniqueness, because you are in the company of such greats as Beethoven, Mozart, John Lennon, Winston Churchill, Lewis Carroll, Henry Ford, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Ernest Hemingway, Frank Lloyd Wright and Steven Spielberg.