As a disclaimer, I’m not a doctor, so I’m not trying to provide medical advice. I’m simply trying to point out something I see in a lot of Entrepreneurs, including myself, and some tips to become more focused and productive.
Wikipedia helps define Adult ADHD:
Adult ADHD is typically marked by inattentiveness, difficulty getting work done, procrastination and organizational problems. Specifically, ADHD adults present persistent difficulties in following directions, remembering information, concentrating, organizing tasks, completing work within specified time frames and appearing timely in appointments. These difficulties affect several different areas of an ADHD adult’s life, causing problems such as emotional, social, vocational, marital, legal, financial or academic.
OK so by reading this definition we see many different symptoms that could be classified as Adult ADHD. But it’s important to note, just because you have a couple of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have ADHD. As I said above, I’m not a doctor, but if you exhibit just a touch of this, I believe I can provide some advice. However, if you do think you have ADHD, please consult your family physician.
Over the last five years I’ve had the great pleasure to meet Entrepreneurs from all around the world. Some who are very successful and others that have great ideas but just have a very hard time with execution.
An example of this goes back to an affiliate marketer I was mentoring back in 2012. He showed me about five websites that he had developed but done nothing with. He took the time to register the domain, develop out the site, setup monetization paths, but never ran one click of traffic to them. A battle kept occurring in his mind where he lost his confidence and he was counting himself out before even giving it a fair chance.
I told the guy that if he didn’t want them, I would buy all the sites from him. They were excellent looking and I knew I could make big things happen. As he saw my face light up with joy, he re-gained his confidence, and told me he was going to pass on selling them and focus on running traffic. Fast forward to 2015 he’s made several million dollars in profit and continues to grow. All because he decided to take action and had the boldness and confidence to move forward.
ADHD can be an Entrepreneur’s biggest competitive advantage but also worst enemy. On one hand, the compulsiveness leads to an unrelentless drive where it’s nothing to sit down and grind out hours of work until it’s done. However, on the other hand, the amount of activity in the brain is going crazy jumping around from one idea to the next, that makes focus nearly impossible.
I personally feel like it is like an “inner unrest” that you’re constantly trying to entertain. Kind of like an old friend that comes to town to visit. You try to entertain them every minute they’re around so they enjoy their visit and don’t get bored. Imagine your brain being that friend that’s in-town 24/7 and you’re struggling to keep him entertained.
A lot of times, people with ADHD have very high IQs and simply get bored.
Back in 2012, I blogged about how I quit anti-depressants, and how my mind was much better off than being “numb” to the world. As I continue to move forward with life and business I now realize my problem wasn’t so much depression or anxiety (like initially thought) as it was struggling to overcome ADHD.
While the anti-depressants helped slow my mind down, they also numbed my emotions so I would often act in ways that were against my belief system. After quitting cold turkey, it actually took almost three years to get completely back to normal. But as my brain continued to heal, the symptoms of what I thought were anxiety, started to return.
Adults with ADHD need to have consistent stimulation. The stimulation can come from many different things such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, opiates, etc. But can also come from things such as Internet addiction disorder. Overall compulsiveness…
For me, I would always start my day by drinking a pot of black coffee followed by dipping snuff (i.e. tobacco). Those substances, along with spending hour after hour online, would provide me with enough stimulation to get to lunch. As the day progressed, the battle continued with the need for consistent stimulation. Some days I would count down the hours until 5:00 p.m. when I knew happy hour would take place so I could be stimulated with alcohol, which helps ADHD, because it makes you not even think about it and gives you an opportunity to relax.
I always wondered why it seemed like the most successful Entrepreneurs were also heavy drinkers.
Not always, but even thinking back to my childhood, some of the biggest business influences on me also had a reputation for heavy drinking or other compulsive activity. Next time you attend a conference such as Affiliate Summit or adTech pay close attention to the amount of alcohol that’s consumed.
Another good friend of mine suffered from this. In college, his grades and social life suffered, as he couldn’t get focused. After being placed on medication he went on to go to medical school and is now well on his way to being a successful physician.
Is medication the answer?
After my long battle with Paxil, I don’t want to have to depend on a pill everyday to be able to function. While some people, such as my friend, find success with this, others can also just find another means to a substance that can be abused. What starts as taking a Methylphenidate (Ritalin) can also turn into snorting a couple of them every couple of hours to enjoy cocaine-like stimulation.
So what can one do for help?
For me, it has been developing a strong support and belief system. While I’ve come to terms that I’m always going to battle this, now I recognize the signals and try my best to stimulate with good habits:
Spiritual Meditation – One thing a lot of people don’t talk a lot about in 2015 is the spiritual realm of the world. Most often when we hear about things like religion and prayer in the media, it’s often portrayed with negativity such as war or attacks on innocent people. Regardless what religion you practice, there no denying the good vs. evil battle that goes on throughout the world. Therefore I like to spend time in the morning, afternoon, and evening meditating on the “good” things in this world. With the nice spring weather, I like to go outside and just listen to nature as I focus on my breathing. Each breath in I concentrate on the good and each exhale out I let go of the stress and negativity (the bad). Meditation helps me focus on what is most important in my life and not get so worked up about things that really don’t matter.
Exercise – A doctor or scientist could probably give you a drawn out technical explanation for this, but I can say without a doubt the biggest cure to most everything is having a healthy body. Over the last year I’ve dropped 10 – 15 lbs and I cannot stress enough the benefits. For one, my blood pressure and blood work is completely normal. But overall, after I exercise, I find the need for ADHD stimulation to greatly decrease. I’m able to pop-in and get my work down without procrastination. What used to take six-eight hours to complete now takes three-four. I focus on working more efficiently.
Healthy Eating – Once again, a nutritionist could give you the long drawn out explanation for this, but it’s something I’ve “split tested” multiple times. When I fill my body with fresh fruits and vegetables I find my “inner-self” able to calm down and focus. I feel lighter and full of energy. On the flip side, when I fill my body with fried foods, lots of sugar, and overall crap I find myself sluggish and moody. Sometimes it sends me into a trans where I can sit online for hours at a time and get absolutely nothing done. By replacing my coffee with an all natural juice, I’m able to replicate that stimulation but without the crashing effect.
Moderation – This is a big one. Everything in moderation. Rather than working 10 hours straight, why not just work 5 but ignore all the distractions. For us online guys, it’s Skype, Facebook, email. Throw that stuff away. Several months ago I deleted the Facebook app from my phone as I found myself opening it almost every “down moment” I had. Unconsciously seeking that next stimulating object. By eliminating all the “online distractions” I’m able to get on, get work done, and get off. For those that say you have to work 24/7 to be successful, you’re mistaken. Trust me, I used to say the same thing, but I now know a much different life.
Unfortunately, ADHD isn’t something that’s ever going to be completely cured or stopped overnight. I actually don’t want mine to be “cured” because it is what gives me a major competitive advantage with my relentless drive to be successful. However, once one is able to get out of self-denial, and face the problem head on, a means of control makes things a lot easier.
Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to talk more about this topic as I know several of you out there reading can relate. Feel free to leave comments below and we can strike-up a dialog on this subject.
Ryan Gray is the founder and CEO of NameHero, one of the fastest growing independent web hosts in the United States. Ryan has been working online since 1998 and has over two-decades experience in Internet Entrepreneurship.