Mental condition that can lead to success if well managed

What's the first thing you think about when you hear the initials ADHD?

In Summary

• Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Justin Timberlake and JFK all had ADHD

A psychologist talks to a child
A psychologist talks to a child

For those familiar with the acronym, the mention of ADHD evokes feelings of dread about childhood developmental problems.

Children diagnosed with the condition find it hard to concentrate on schoolwork or to follow instructions at home. Consequently, ADHD manifests results in poor academic performance and disciplinary problems in children.

ADHD stands for "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder," a condition that causes hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattentiveness. Clinical psychologist Lambert Oigara puts the global average of ADHD in children and adults at between 2 per cent and 7 per cent of the population.

The good news is that people can lead successful lives with ADHD. "When ADHD is not diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, in adulthood, it can be mitigated by perfectionism, high IQ, exemplary performance in sports, the gift of the gab and interpersonal intuition," Oigara says.

Famous people known to have ADHD include Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Justin Timberlake, Walt Disney and former US President John F Kennedy. A report by Syracuse University shows that character traits associated with ADHD can propel an entrepreneur forward. Organisations led by persons showing ADHD symptoms are highly entrepreneurial and outperform their competitors.

Numerous surveys on ADHD show that individuals with ADHD exhibit entrepreneurial behaviour more than non-ADHD individuals. However, persons with ADHD tend to get into business because self-employment allows them to maximise their strengths.

The University of the People reports that persons with ADHD are spontaneous, creative, energetic, intuitive, imaginative and inventive. They also can hyperfocus on subjects that interest them to a far greater extent than their non-ADHD counterparts. Their superior energy means they can achieve more and work harder and faster than others.

On the other hand, ADHD individuals are generally restless, impulsive, chaotic and not good at planning. ADHD individuals expect the same intensity of energy from family, friends and co-workers, who then find such persons exhausting to live or work with.

The difference in energy levels can create conflict.

How can an ADHD individual tap into the positive energy of that condition, while managing the negatives?

1. Accept your limits: Syracuse University recommends taking a strength-based approach. While you list down your strengths, accept there are certain things other people can do better than you. Find colleagues who compliment you.

2. Break tasks into smaller goals: The Attention Deficit Disorder Association suggests breaking down complex or lengthy projects into smaller components to ensure each task feels more manageable. Instead of postponing action until the day before a deadline, write down every small task involved. Set a deadline, time or place of completion for each small task.

3. Set aside relaxation time: Let off steam by exercising regularly. Find ways to help you relax, such as listening to music or learning breathing exercises for stress. Making the time to relax means being realistic about how much work you can handle. It may be necessary to say no to new projects or other forms of commitment.

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