ADHD Traits of Entrepreneurs

I have suspected for a while – from my own curiosity, wondering what makes an ‘entrepreneurial’ character – that ADHD or ADD is part of the mix other than the lists provided.  What do they have that I don’t?  (Or maybe I don’t utilise it if I have it?).  So I set out to explore, consider, research – something I love to do.

Then I got around the other night to putting the actual question into Google to see what others think, after many months, even years of wondering.  And hey presto, there are lists of ‘scholarly articles’ on it, blog posts on the topic in Forbes and other business journals!   It’s true.

It does exist (which I know from recent research, reading and practical evidence before me that I had never before realised …).

 

There are links below that agree with my thinking – or rather, that I agree with from my own experience!   This for me is a great satisfaction.  Like-minded, Psychology and mind-set management.

Again, there is ‘something else – but what?’ for me.  So I watched, and then found the answer by accident.  I never believed that ADHD was a ‘real thing’ – apparently like many other people including, sadly, schools and parents, families and managers.

Yet now I know it exists and I am learning to understand it – and why its common in the entrepreneurial spirit!

Read on to find out more.

Some think these conditions (I dislike the ‘disorder’ wording hence I left it out – is it a disordered mind or a ‘special’ mind?!) are on the autistic spectrum but apparently not, although they seem similar in that the focus and keen mind on certain aspects could be construed this way too.

 “ADHD occurs in about 5% of the population. But Wiklund’s research indicates that if you work in entrepreneurial endeavors your chance of having ADHD or working closely with someone who does is far higher. Thus, it is in every organization’s interest to learn to manage ADHD’s downsides and harness the advantages that Wiklund has taken from the realm of rumor into solid science. This is particularly important now when standard operating procedures and long-held best practices are quickly becoming obsolete. Flexible thinking that is comfortable with improvisation and unpredictable situations is an increasing advantage–an advantage that may make the next generation of entrepreneurs more neurodiverse than those that have come before”  https://www.fastcompany.com/40431610/this-scientist-is-studying-how-adhd-helps-drive-some-entrepreneurs

 

The Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity mind-set differences help this entrepreneurial character because of the specific aspects this characteristic can present include these.

SOME POSITIVES (and for business employers too)

HYPER-FOCUS

This is the total absorption and concentration on a passion i.e. the business product or service, the ‘hobby’ turned professional business idea.   It is now recognised that one of the causes of stress is to keep stopping and starting – managers being interrupted from their work, phone and meetings interrupting employees ‘getting their teeth’ into a piece of work or longer task.

We need FLOW to feel good – satisfaction, focus, no distractions to fulfil our talents and skills!  Well, ADD and ADHD people have this by the bucket load!  They can filter out noise, people, distractions fairly easily.

One of the aspects of business creation and management is the need to work long hours, dedication to the cause and this a key component of people with ADHD/ADD.

Hyperactivity is the aspect that helps with always being on the go physically, but more so, the mental capacity to create, think, analyse.

RISK

Taking risks others might find frightening or reckless is another one.   Jumping without thinking it through fully, seeing potential downfalls which might prevent them moving forward or jumping at opportunities in the moment!  They see an ‘opportunity’ and say yes – then ‘work out how to later’ as Richard Branson says – he himself has ADHD along with other well-known celebrity business people!

CREATIVITY

Important for any entrepreneurial activity is thinking creatively – to solve the problem, provide helpful or interesting options for others, using their never-ending thoughts to consider options, take them through to fruition and keep pushing them because they are so passionate about them themselves!   They can’t get away from this mind-set, this activity, and they won’t let you either which is great for sales and marketing, for looking for leads and being ready for opportunities!

They also see the big picture but may struggle to chunk down to mundane details and action that are also a necessary part of running a business.  Here, they need to develop a team around them.

SOME NEGATIVES

As with most characteristics and personalities, people and situations, there are downsides too.  Some of these might – or definitely will – be as follows:

LOSING THINGS

Definitely part of the problem side with lost phones, money, bags, cards, clothes, items for work or ‘favourite tops’ etc.  Untidiness too that often comes with ‘creative minds’ because it isn’t important in the moment.  Forgetting key items for events, mislaying their important equipment because in the moment, they focus on what is going on.

(Not) COPING WITH DETAILS and MUNDANE BUSINESS ADMIN!

Account records / Recording on paper / Data records / Reports / CRM systems

Boring but essential, this responsibility is best passed to someone else!  This is also something people with ADD/ADHD might struggle with – seeing the patterns in a lot of data like figures for account reports, reporting in a data system for someone else’s evidence, and lists of contacts that could more easily be found in their phone for quick access!

Building Network Connections purposefully

Small talk is not interesting to these people, whose minds rise far higher with deep and meaningful creation ongoing constantly, thinking wider and further than most and often much deeper (analysis, over thinking unintentionally).  However, making connections – the right ones, is normal for them.  They can see potential very quickly and jump in, but often miss opportunities that others may pass on or they themselves don’t link with because they weren’t at the meetings.

Taking comments and attitudes too personally

Being hyper-sensitive too, anything people say about their business – is about them personally!  And any comments about them can be taken as a criticism, even if meant helpfully as feedback and discussion.

GENERALISED OBSERVATIONS

If you have ever been around a group of these like-minded people, you can see it.  I was on an accelerator programme and watched people around me (my favourite pass-time!) at a time when I couldn’t work out the difference in me and them.

Not to say that I may not have it either, but maybe I am the other side where negatives take over.  Or maybe I don’t have it.  I won’t know unless I, like others, want to get a ‘medical diagnosis’ that drugs like Ritalin are prescribed for in children that dull the constant, quick thinking, the physical activity and restlessness that people struggle to cope with.

Parents of children will know what this feels like for sure!  Sometimes they think “there’s something …but I don’t know what!” about their child, and with no guidance or idea unless they research, they can go through life struggling with ‘difficult’ children whilst the child themselves struggles with labels like this (especially at school, college, or work)

However, not all ADHD/ADD people make a success of business as there are also other aspects that might be problematic, they don’t have the right support or look for help, or let procrastination dominate because they feel uncertain and misunderstood (low self-esteem is one of the traits of the conditions too, for precisely this reason!)

WHEN YOU KNOW …

It’s you

  • You have the personal power to find tools and techniques to manage the problem areas
  • Relief of opening yourself up fully and happily to being yourself!
  • Tools like writing things down to remember them (paper, phone until you lose it) or a checklist for everything pinned up in relevant places around your home or work to take with you (and bring back!) – for every situation you place yourself in
  • Accepting the consequences of your ‘condition’ and not blaming others for your problems
  • Building up your own self-esteem – knowledge is power, influence and action! Perfect for you!
  • Techniques like using this as your ‘weakness’ overcome in interviews – when you know how to manage it and use those tools and techniques, awareness and harnessing yourself in at times
  • Finding people who can help you achieve your goals, take over the boring stuff and free your mind up to create, continue to explore and be fully active knowing how great you are!

What that ‘something’ is in someone around you

  • It allows you to be tolerant and understanding of their quirks – realise they can’t help it
  • To protect yourself from the often harmful overwhelm these people can bring to others with boundaries
  • Create space for yourself to recover or avoid the overwhelming demands they make on you
  • To get help and support if you need it – tools, techniques like minimising time with them, not arguing back, being supportive even if you can’t keep up
  • To help them to help themselves (they wont really accept ‘help’ because there is nothing wrong with them or their lives!) by finding techniques and perspectives to help them accept and understand themselves and their needs too
  • Involving yourself if you choose as far as possible but realising it may not be ‘enough’ for them but accepting yourself too!

 

Further Reading:

Fastbrain article

Forbes article

Entrepreneur.com article

Research by Wiklund   (embedded in article too)*

Features of ADHD and ADD

Supporting children with ADHD

ADHD, ADD and Autism

CIPD event – supporting people with special needs