Perhaps I’m the only person in the world that dreams there really is such a thing as an overnight success, that a rich uncle will leave me a fortune (I don’t have an uncle), that I will win the lottery (without entering it). That my checkbook will reconcile itself and my debts will be magically erased. That I can actually succeed without any real effort.
I’ve always hoped there is some secret knowledge; some shortcut that once found would allow me to leap over other mere mortals and grab the brass ring. I believed knowing the secret was the ticket on the flight away from boredom, frustration, and even misery and sadness. But then I heard a voice say:
Sorry pal. The secret is there is no secret.
Twenty years ago that voice sounded like Sheldon Kopp whose 1972 book, If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him introduced me to the notion that my assumptions about reality might be distorted. Ten years ago Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art expanded my understanding that no one else, including God, is going to make it happen and that the only way to be a professional is to Do The Work.
Not what I had in mind.
I’m not alone because some of you (47%?) share my fantasy, and at least 4-5% of the population are drawn to it because of the same disorder that I have, a condition commonly known in adults as ADD. Among creative types, and members of military the percentage can be as high as 15% because we are drawn to work that supports and often accommodates our unique “gift”.
Reading about the necessity of grinding it out; doing the daily work necessary to experience the joys of creativity and even financial success made little difference. I didn’t do it. I felt like couldn’t do it. I felt defective…like a loser. It seemed like there was something wrong with me. Operating in the thin air of a national architectural practice with ADD is like Icarus flying toward the sun. It’s only a matter of time until the wax melts, the feathers begin to fall off and down you go. More than once, in my case.
I came face to face with my own diagnosis about 10 years ago and began the process of finding the right medication, and developing a support structure and lifestyle that help me function. By function don’t mean just being productive. I mean not driving my spouse crazy from living with a “grown man” who at times can’t seem to take care of the simplest of tasks. Learning to live with and manage a disorder that inhibits some of the most basic mental processes required to function is a journey. Now that I know what’s going on, have made the decision to deal with it (for the rest of my life) and make use of the medications and daily management systems available I can finally “do the work” that is essential to realizing who I am and why I am here.
If you are reading this there is a good chance you are one of those creative types, or know one of those creative types who may be suffering unnecessarily with an undiagnosed disorder that is real, thoroughly documented in hundreds of scientific studies and highly treatable. It’s also a disorder that saps the potential of thousands and causes unnecessary suffering when untreated. As a starting point, I recommend two books: Taking Charge of Adult ADD by Russell Barkley, PhD and Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell, MD. And please get in touch with me if you think there might be something you think I can do to help.
There are dozens of myths about ADD. Do the work and find out the truth and enjoy a better life.