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ADD…on an (A)

In the promotional marketing industry, we all know what an (A) represents. The (A) in ADD, (Attention Deficit Disorder) doesn’t mean half of anything.

In a commentary I wrote on 'Organization', which is certainly not my strong suit, I mentioned my ADD. From that piece, I heard from several other people who are also blessed with ADD. We realized bringing the subject of ADD out in the open enables others to realize that how they function isn’t necessarily a negative thing.

A few years ago, I began to realize that I operate pretty differently from others. I’ve been this way all my life and didn’t think much of it. My Pastor from the pulpit was always open and honest about his ongoing struggles with ADD, and I wondered what that was all about.

At the urging of my wife, I took a simple online test and discovered much to my surprise; I have ADD! I mentioned this to a prominent industry leader, and his response was pretty funny. Something like, really…you just figured that out? I had no idea it was so apparent! It’s more common than we think.

In some circles, this “so-called” disorder is negative. Not in our industry. There are very few industries that embrace, foster and understand ADDers better than this one. ADDers are typically creative, high-energy, multi-taskers that struggle with focus and organization. That somewhat describes the heartbeat of our industry, RIGHT?

One fellow ADDer, Brannon Craig from supplier Southern Plus shared this personal story: In trying to understand my son’s “disorder,” I discovered he got it from ME! When we were kids, they diagnosed it as being a kid. You learned to cope and find a middle ground to get through life. Now, we are quick to medicate these kids…to try and get them to conform to how others function.

ADD is more of a gift than a disorder, particularly when it is understood and optimized (finely tuned). I have been fired (or laid off) from several companies, not because I wasn’t capable or incompetent, but because I did things “differently” than most. When someone does not understand the complexity of what goes through our minds at any given moment, it can be perceived as something negative.

We are capable of creative genius, as well as a complete vacuum of emptiness at any given moment. Some cannot handle our behavior patterns. When paired with type A personalities, we are the most frustrating people on earth! Many business managers are Type A controllers.

Because of our multi-tasking capacity, and our need to be challenged, we often take on more than most can (or should) handle. Though we will typically come through in the clutch, management and peers do not often understand our timetable and methods.

We are skilled ball-jugglers that thrive when the pressure is on. While highly distractible at times, we are also capable of hyperfocus, making us slip into a state of semi-consciousness, and able to tune out the world. Follow through is not one of our strong suits, and our memories have holes. But once we grab onto something, it is there for life!

We are often restless and have trouble relaxing for extended periods of time, so we may work at odd hours to alleviate the restlessness. We can be excellent team players if the team understands how to work with us, but we often work individually better than most. We struggle in rigid, structured environments, but thrive if we devise the process or procedures that suit us. We do well with routines, as long as they are ours!

We are typically outgoing, people-oriented, people pleasers that speak from the heart, often without thought or filter. We are loyal, hard-working, and often moody. We hate details (because we don’t have time for them). We tend to seek the best way (and most efficient way) to accomplish everyday tasks.

Email communication works better for some of us than phone conversation because we can do that while we do other things. When you are on the phone (and on a treadmill, or driving, or eating, etc.) it is hard not to sound distracted (but we are not).

We thrive in high-energy, disorganized, multi-task inducing, creative, people-focused industries. Does that sound like the promotional products industry? If there is a better example of this in industry, I don’t know it. That is not to say that EVERYONE in our industry is this way. We still need the “normals“ to run the businesses, pay the bills, manage resources, etc., but we need to be let out of the stable to RUN! And run we shall!

ADDition – The art of recruiting/partnering with, tolerating, challenging, motivating, and embracing those with ADD!

How many of you can relate to Brannon’s comments?

© 2014 Jeff Solomon, MAS

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