3 Lessons I Learned with my ADHD Diagnosis
Updated: Feb 2
I’ve always known I was different but I could never explain why. That difference was made clear to me the day I left my first job to start my own engineering company because the way I worked didn’t fit in with how they worked. They worked against me.
Now, I’ve created a job and a new work environment so I can fit in: a place where I feel I belong and where I can work how I know I work best. It’s mine.
Here’s What I Learned with my ADHD Diagnosis
It was clear to me that the corporate structure would not fit in well with me. With my first job it was clear that the regular business world and structure would not accept me.
Even though I created my own workplace, I had many challenges and made many, many mistakes. I entered bad partnerships. I partnered with negative clients. I hired the wrong team members and there was a lot of erratic spending.
All this was driven by the need to fit in, the need to be accepted and the need to be liked. When I received my ADHD diagnosis, I learned three key lessons that helped me develop and grow and I want to share them.
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A few years ago I was diagnosed with severe ADHD and mild Asperger’s. It was a miracle I graduated engineering. I got a degree on time and I was able to start a successful engineering company.
I accepted my ADHD, I stopped believing there was something wrong with me and there was nothing to fix. I embraced my differences and I focused on my uniqueness and that is the value I bring to the world.
So here it is, the three most valuable lessons I learned after my ADHD diagnosis.
Lesson #1: You Are Not Alone
You are not alone!
This is the real purpose of the Impulsive Thinker. 5% of the population is trying to fit in and make things work as is. They downplay their strengths, downplay their value and don’t strive for what they want and how they want to do it.
This site will introduce you to many successful ADHD entrepreneurs who share similar trials and tribulations. They’re going to share how they achieved success in spite of themselves and in spite of others. We’ll share the lessons they’ve learned and things they’ve learned about themselves along the way.
If you (the reader) also have an ADHD diagnosis, you’re going to hear that there are others out there like you. There’s a community for us. In short, you are not alone.
Lesson #2: You Are Not Broken
Once I realized that I wasn’t alone, my next realization was that I wasn’t broken. My brain is different but nothing is wrong with me. Before, I didn’t know that brains could be different (like mine) and I learned all that by hyper-focusing and researching everything I could about the ADHD brain: books, seminars, webinars, conferences, you name it. I was putting those differences to use.
Through all that knowledge, I was able to identify my unique ADHD brain and how it worked.
That’s how I figured out that my top challenges in life were my emotions, my impulsivity and my distractibility both at work and at home.
Over the past twenty years, I had read many self-help and strength identifier books and was able to identify my strengths. What I had trouble figuring out was what was holding me back.
Once I had an ADHD diagnosis and was conducting research as well as going to regular therapy, my self-awareness improved tremendously. I had the full picture of me. That diagnosis was the last piece to complete my puzzle.
This explained my erratic spending. A lot of it had to do with impulsive, distracted decision making once there was a lot of money in the bank. With symptom-management and environment changes though, I was able to make my ADHD symptoms into my ADHD strengths.
I changed my work environment by changing my workspace. My desk now has no drawers and I keep my things in a hutch that is turned away from me. I have a white board on my desk, a computer and pens and pencils. That’s it. This new system means that I have to go to the hutch and only bring over what I need for the task at hand, only working on one thing at a time. Impulsive thoughts go onto the white board.
This change in environment helped me get into my hyper-focus strength mode quicker and more frequently. It helped me deliver more projects on time and complete more tasks.
I wasn’t broken and you are not broken either.
Lesson #3: Unmask Your Character and Be You
Today, I understand that I’m not broken. The next thing I had to do, was understand that I’d been playing a character for over 40 years.
That character masked my symptoms and my true self to the point where I almost forgot who that was. Once I started peeling back that mask I realized I had a tendency to chase negative people and environments.
I stayed at my first job where I became a partner because it felt natural but it was negative from the start. I was held back, they kept me down and they resisted my growth. That mask created a tunnel vision to work as they wanted and saw fit, going against my better judgment.
I conformed and convinced myself to only see it their way. I was told that my goals were silly and too out there. I was told to grow up. To me, they might as well have said, “Stay down here with us and don’t make us look bad.”
Then I made the realization that I needed to be me. . . but I had to find me.
Who was I? Who was the real me? What parts were the character? I had to look deep down in myself and figure out what was the character and what was me. What did I want?
With some work on myself and help from others, I now have a better sense of who I am and I’m pursuing goals that I want to pursue. Now I believe that my unique abilities and strengths are worth working on and bring value to the world.
Feeling Like an Outsider
It’s tough to feel like an outsider, whether that’s because you have ADHD or because you’re an entrepreneur. It’s not your job to fit in though. Your job is to celebrate how unique you are, celebrate your strengths and bring your values to the world.
You are not alone. You are not broken. Unmask your character and be you.
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