This morning, I was sitting in the bedroom of our Little House in the Desert talking to my wife, Muri, and mid-sentence, I noticed something over her shoulder through our bedroom window, which looks across the 15th fairway of the Golf Club at Johnson’s Ranch toward the San Tan Mountains. On one of the smaller peaks that defines our community stood two nearly identical Saguaro cactus, so similar that I thought it might be an optical illusion caused by refraction in our double paned windows. My train of thought left the station and I found myself leaning this way and that decide. It was real. When I pointed them out to Muri, she looked and nodded patiently. She’s used to it. Talking, walking, driving … whatever I’m doing, I tend to notice small details around me. It’s more than noticing, I suppose … I find the small random coincidences around me fascinating. I know it can be annoying to some when I comment on a butterfly that flutters past the window in the middle of a serious conversation. But my grandkids love it that I notice bunnies in the backyard as we’re playing The Memory Game on the living room floor and that I’m almost as excited as they are when they find the turquoise blue stone among the tan rocks that line the road on the way to our rec center. But last week someone in our Thursday Night Men’s Meeting used the phrase Distracted by Shiny Objects to describe his Attention Deficit Disorder. Looking on up ADD on WebMD, I discovered that to some degree or other, I have a tendency to exhibit a number of the symptoms listed:
- Difficulty paying attention to details and tendency to make careless mistakes in school or other activities; producing work that is often messy and careless
- Easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli and frequently interrupting ongoing tasks to attend to trivial noises or events that are usually ignored by others
- Inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities
Difficulty finishing schoolwork or paperwork or performing tasks that require concentration
- Frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another
- Disorganized work habits
- Forgetfulness in daily activities (for example, missing appointments, forgetting to bring lunch)
- Failure to complete tasks such as homework or chores
- Frequent shifts in conversation, not listening to others, not keeping one’s mind on conversations, and not following details or rules of activities in social situations.
Hmmm. Could what I’ve always considered a proclivity for noticing be ADD?
Now, before I offend someone who is dealing with serious Attention Deficit Disorder in themself or a loved one, let me say that I know ADD is no joke … it can cripple one’s ability to function in society. But in the last twenty years, we have been vary fond of discovering our syndromes and disorders, and uninclined to consider the possibility that they bring with them benefits. That’s why I like an article on Forbes.com by Molly Cain titled, Shiny Objects and Other Things Which Distract Me that begins with this:
Initially introduced as a childhood disease, ADD is now more common than ever, especially in adults. Let’s be more specific here. Experts are learning that 60% of the children diagnosed with ADD take this into adulthood. Which means that at this point, it’s safe to say that ADD has found its way into the boardroom. And this…is a good thing.
Cain then proceeds to tell us why it’s a good thing. For example, people with ADD are more creative, more inclined to think outside the box, and better at multi-tasking. She also notes that noticing everything can be a benefit, whether it’s in brainstorming for new ideas, finding subjects for photography or picking up details in a project that no one else notices. Cain also gives a number of reasons that people with ADD make better bosses. The key, she says is that it’s more critical that someone with ADD needs to find a job that aligns to their passions in order to excel. And in many cases, this means taking the creative route. Hmmm again.
So here I am at what for me is a bloggers dilemma … six hundred words into a post that started out to be funny and ended up serious (or at least informative). How do I finish? This way. I don’t know whether I have low grade ADD. I do know that I have many of the tendencies. Yet somehow, I’ve learned to use them in a (mostly) positive way that fits well into my choice of profession. One of the skills I’ve learned is approaching even mundane tasks creatively. And if you take the time to read Molly Cain’s article, those are exactly the steps she advises for those seeking to succeed in spite of …. or because of ADD. So, if you have ADD there’s more than hope … there’s the genuine possibility that your particular talents can be tailored to the workplace. And if you don’t? I’ll borrow Molly Cain’s ending:
If you don’t have ADD, you may have mistakenly labeled someone with ADD as lazy, unprofessional, undependable or just plain lacking in work ethics. I hope this changes your mind and helps you understand that even though someone thinks differently than you, or has different behaviors than you, it doesn’t make them wrong. It’s makes them just that, different. And maybe now you’ll be more likely to hire someone who exhibits some of these qualities. If you do, they’ll approach your business problems with a different mindset, and if given the right opportunity to do so, they’ll solve them.
Now, that’s a note worth ending on.