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You might think they would be polite enough to help us out and not mention it at all. Or they would at least put a positive spin on things. Or they would hold off until everyone diagnosed with Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) had jobs before broadcasting to people everywhere, including potential employers, about our easily-distracted-impulsive-restless-cannot-sit-down-at-a-desk-all-day behaviours. But people who diagnose mental disorders are not known for their manners, their positivity, or their lack of negative labels. And none of them ever thinks of careers, jobs and job descriptions when writing and speaking about neurodevelopmental disorders. Try telling potential employers your strengths include easily-distracted, impulsive, restless, and cannot-sit-down-at-a-desk-all-day. See how that goes for you.
The medical profession leaves out the best parts about ADHD traits. They fail to mention what good personalities we have. Not one single word is written about our tireless energy, thirsty curiosities, mental vibrancy, determination, ingenuity, resilience, exuberance, or sense of adventure. No mention about our creativity, intuitiveness, and the way we see the big picture – the picture that matters in the 21st century job markets. Neither do those negative label makers acknowledge our cognitive abilities such as inductive, right-brained, abstract thinking and reasoning as valid natural talents to be valued, not suffocated. And, of course, not a peep about how boring they, the medical experts, are and we’re not.
People are hired for their skills. It’s true, except the whole person shows up for work. The secret to career success is to understand what you do best and what situations and management styles drive you to thrive. Peter Drucker, an American management consultant and author, was celebrated worldwide for his contributions to the philosophical and practical foundations of modern business management. He said this: ‘Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who do two things: (1) identify and articulate their talents and (2) place themselves in positions to use them.’
Every one of us has unique talents and strengths. We are born with them. They cannot be ignored because they do not go away. Using negative labels slapped on ADHD by medical professionals is not helpful in career decision-making and job seeking. However, ignoring or discounting negative labels is not the right answer either, but reframing those negative labels is.
Natural abilities cannot be covered up. Don’t even try. They have to come out somehow and be used. Natural abilities cannot be ignored, because they won’t go away. They will find an outlet – a way to be expressed – even when it is not the best way.
When your natural abilities are suppressed and unused in your career, with no constructive outlet, they erupt without warning like an exploding wild fire. Devastatingly destructive. Your career flops. You can blame career flops on your employer if you want to, but ask yourself who chose the employer. When you are in the wrong career, in the wrong setting, surrounded by people, who devalue, discount, and misunderstand you, your talents will be suffocated, your creativity stifled, and your spirit demoralised.
Some years ago, Gallup interviewed 198,000 employees in 36 companies and asked them if their job gave them the opportunity to realise their full potential every day. The results of all those Gallup interviews tell us we will be happier and more productive when we use our natural abilities in our work. According to Tom Rath, in his bestseller, Strengths Finder 2.0, strengths are natural abilities and, if things do not come naturally, then it takes extra time, effort, and energy to achieve only average competence.
Take the time to decode and reframe negative ADHD traits into positive strengths and talents to transfer them into rewarding jobs and careers. People who are easily distracted are mentally vibrant researchers, explorers, and teachers with thirsty curiosities. The impulsive and restless are adventuresome, pioneering, inventive, risk-taking entrepreneurs. Those who cannot-sit-down-at-a-desk-all-day play football, race horses, fight fires, build houses, investigate crimes, work in emergency rooms, screen baggage at airports, and drive for Uber.
Don’t waste your attention deficient talents. Reframe the negative ADHD traits to discover your natural, positive ADHD strengths. Link your unique ADHD talents to the right job, in the right workplace to totally crush your life and career.
Dr Patricia Lloyd is an educator and career counsellor, who diagnosed with ADHD. She is the author of ADHD Reframed! Totally Crush Life and Career with an ADHD Fast Brain.
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