Inspiration, Intention, Action - The ADHD Project Newsletter 7/1

Inspiration, Intention, Action - The ADHD Project Newsletter 7/1

  • Webinar Recordings Available! - Firstly I want to thank all of our webinar attendees for making "Building Effective Habits for ADHD" a success! I really enjoyed getting to meet some of you one-on-one and the discussion it sparked. If you weren't able to attend, I'm happy to announce that the recording is now available! Click here to purchase your recording and learn how to build effective habits!

  • F*ck The Plan: The ADHD Project Podcast is BACK! - After a much needed summer break, our latest episode "Superpower or Curse?" will be released tomorrow 7/2! Cass and I discuss the narrative of ADHD being labeled as a "Superpower" by some despite the fact that it has debilitating effects for most. Thank you for your patience while we took our time to make the best episode we possibly could for you! Click here to check it out and bookmark the page so you don't miss the release!

  • Sneak Preview - Starting this week, we're going to try something new for our weekly newsletter. I will be sharing parts of my upcoming book (Working title: "Quit Your Job - But Read This First") with you. The book discusses the way we, as a society, view our jobs and the roles they take in our lives especially as neurodiverse individuals. As a regular reader, I want to give you a sneak peak of what's to come and I welcome feedback in any form so feel free to email Scrolling to Read On!

Chapter 2: Re-Thinking Traditional Success Excerpt

"Have you signed back up for school yet?"

Even though Dad passed away several years ago, I still hear his question ringing in the back of my head. “Listen Aaron, you’re so smart but without that degree you won’t be able to put your intelligence to use, nobody will want to hire you for a high paying job.” I really can’t blame him for pushing me to finally finish my college degree nearly every time I saw him. He was not saying it to be condescending, he genuinely cared about me and wanted me to succeed, and as far as he knew it that was the only way to do so. Having been a tradesperson, then seeing a dramatic turndown in his industry, he found himself with very few options. This is not to say that my dad lacked skills or intelligence, he had plenty of both. The only thing he lacked was a college degree, and when he found himself in a tough spot looking for new employment later in life, he must have thought back to the advice his parents gave him and wished he listened.

You see dad was only telling me what he knew. This is the conventional wisdom and traditional path to success that his generation heard over and over again until they were sick of it. Though we didn’t realize it until he had already passed, I’m sure now that he was on the Autism spectrum. My dad was born in the late 50s, and at the time there wasn’t the same level of awareness that we have now. As a neurodiverse person, dad struggled in school and barely made it through. He chose a career in the trades because college wasn’t for him, he wasn’t able to learn that way. Now, remember that he was a teenager in the 70s when there were huge efforts to reform the education system, and he had heard from a young age that college was the primary key to reaching your dreams. The high-water mark of success for his generation sounded something like this:

  • Do well in school so you can go to college
  • Go to college, get a nice 9-5 job
  • Get married, have kids
  • Save and pinch pennies so you can keep up with the Joneses
  • Maybe retire in your 60s or 70s and enjoy the last few years of your life

Unfortunately for him that didn’t match up with the way his brain worked. For many years he felt that it was his own personal failing that he couldn’t go to college and finish a degree. When we would talk about having to find a new job, heck a whole new industry, I could hear the sadness in his voice and feel his disappointment in himself for not being able to stick with the prescribed path when he was younger. I worked with him for a year when I was 17, and he would say things like “I’m trying to show you what it’s like to have to work hard for a living, I’m hoping it makes you want to go back to school so you don’t have to.”

Isn’t it terrible to think that because you didn’t follow what everyone else deems as the “right” way to do things or to live your life that you must be a failure? Looking back now it seems pretty obvious to me, but I didn’t realize at the time how bad he must have felt, wanting to give his family a better life but feeling like he missed the boat. Never even understanding why or how his neurodiversity could have set him up for so many other paths where he would have been successful. Isn’t it terrible to think that the next Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, or Jay-Z might never reach their potential to be great because they don’t have the capacity to be average?

Yet this is what society still prescribes as the generally accepted “right” way of doing things. We push this as the only mainstream idea of success, but this is not the reality that most of us face. Many of us, especially those who are neurodiverse, have a very difficult time going to college and working a 9-5 job.

As one example, my ADHD makes it easier for me to work in short bursts rather than slowly and consistently. I have periods of the day where I’m hyper focused on my work, completing 2 hours worth in the span of 45 minutes. In between these short bursts, I need to recover by doing low-energy tasks like emails or online compliance lessons (anyone who has worked in the financial industry will know what that means!) This is in stark contrast to what is generally required by employers, which is to get a steady, consistent amount of work done every hour. Does this mean I can’t be successful because I can’t work the way most employers want me to?

Come back next week to read more!!

Thanks as always for reading,
Aaron Frank
Founder, The ADHD Project

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