Even if NFL Football isn't your thing, you likely heard or saw online that the Philadelphia Eagles were the team to beat this year (stick with me on this one!)
They were absolutely crushing nearly everyone in their path on their way to their appearance in Super Bowl LVII. They were almost unstoppable...almost. It came down to the final seconds, but unfortunately they lost the biggest game on the biggest stage. It represented the culmination of a full season's worth of work and effort. What can this teach us about ADHD, life, and perseverance? Well, as an Eagles fan, the first thing I thought of after the initial heartbreak was a question - What will the Eagles do from here?
Their character tells me that they will pick up the pieces, learn from their mistakes, make adjustments, and go after it again. The whole season, their mentality had been "we're coming for you, we're walking right down the middle of your street, showing you our full hand, and daring you to beat us at our own game." The Eagles controlled this narrative for each game, and by doing so they were able to keep the upper hand for most of their season.
You only get to the place where you can act like that that by knowing that no matter how much you win or lose, there is still work to be done. By knowing that you will put in the work to get better, no matter what it takes. It only comes from relentless, and I mean absolutely and utterly RELENTLESS commitment to self-improvement. They always knew exactly where they stood - good, bad, or indifferent - and continued doing the work both when they were on top of the world, and when it looked like all hope was lost. They were not afraid of being honest with themselves about their mistakes. Their head coach, Nick Sirianni, would show players a video of himself completely blowing his first press conference and getting laughed at as a way of showing that even the guy in charge has work to do. Through all of the adversity they faced, they kept on fighting. When they lost games, they kept on fighting. Through injuries, doubts, personal problems, they kept on fighting. Through people calling them "frauds", picking them to lose, and much worse, they kept on fighting. Sound familiar?
Those of us with ADHD experience something we can relate to and tie-in to this lesson all the time in our lives. It can feel like this kind of a constant battle to live with ADHD. The tremendous amount of physical and mental effort it takes is absolutely exhausting. Of course I understand that the stakes are even higher than a football game, even the Super Bowl, because these are our REAL LIVES we're talking about here. For me, it can feel like every victory is hollow and every defeat is a major setback at times. Just when you start to make progress on one area of your life, another falls by the wayside. Just as you reach a big milestone, another problem pops up.
However, just like the Eagles, we all have a choice to make about how we respond and react to these things, and how we choose to shape our perspective on it. Will we take it to heart, listen to the naysayers, and fold? Or will we keep fighting, pushing, persevering until the bitter end? It's tough to get up and try again when you're kicked down, but without that fight we have nothing.
Everyone has struggles, everyone faces defeat, everyone has a situation where they give their absolute best effort and lose anyway. The difference between the successful and unsuccessful people in life is that the successful get up and keep fighting, no matter how many times they fail. The successful look at their mistakes, learn from them, and become better because of them. Don't let one failure, even one on the biggest stage, keep you from the successes that lie just beyond it. We are not our failures - rather it's the sum of our successes in life that define us. Sometimes to reach those successes, we need to learn the hard way from our failures and get better because of them.
As for my beloved Eagles, they nearly did it this time. They came within seconds, within a couple of plays of winning the Super Bowl, but it didn't happen. What do we do when we try our best, do everything we can, feel unstoppable, but come up short? I'm reminded of a few simple words of wisdom that my Grandfather shared from his time as a Marine: "Adapt, Adjust, and Move On".
Making consistent progress is the only key to success, with managing your ADHD and life in general. Those who succeed know this, and they know that no matter how many times they get knocked down, the next time they get up could be the time they win the game. I know that this is a vicious cycle with ADHD, I've lived the ups and downs just like many of you. Just remember, that this is what the process of learning feels like. It's not always fun, but it is helping you learn, grow, and get where you want to go.
Trust me, I know it can be utterly defeating at times, but are you just going to lay down and accept defeat? Or is there still work to be done?