October is ADHD awareness month. We spoke to Mandy Gilbert about her personal experience with ADHD – what she considers her superpower
In recent years, we have started seeing more positive attitudes toward mental health and the way we react to mental health and neurodiversity. There is less stigmatization, and increased resources and awareness for better understanding and treating mental health, for starters.
We celebrated World Mental Health Day on 10 October, and the entire month is dedicated to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) awareness. ADHD, as described by CAMH, “affects attention span and concentration and can also affect how impulsive and active the person is”.
Categorized as a “chronic neurodevelopmental disorder [that] affects approximately 1.5 million Canadians”, explains the Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada (CADDAC), it is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children worldwide, and over the last decade, ADHD diagnoses have been on the rise (especially among adults). This is due to a myriad of reasons: changing attitudes, increased awareness, the effects of the pandemic, etc.
In the workplace, CADDAC notes that “many adults with ADHD perform their jobs extremely well and find that some of their ADHD traits: high energy, problem-solving, creativity, and being able to hyper-focus, are benefits in their type of work”. And many leaders with ADHD have come to acknowledge their diagnosis as key to their success (several of whom are high-profile leaders like Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson, and Ingvar Kamprad, to name a few).
However, that is not to say that ADHD does not come without its challenges. With the right treatment, individuals with ADHD can thrive in both their personal and professional lives.
We heard from Creative Niche founder & CEO, Mandy Gilbert, about her personal experience with ADHD – what she considers her superpower:
I had suspected, for years, that I had ADHD, however, I went through the formal process a year ago after connecting with my entrepreneurial friends and them sharing that A) they were recently diagnosed, and B) they thought I had it as well.
A coincidence perhaps? Not at all, even considering the majority of the population (80% in North America) isn’t assessed. The percentage of entrepreneurs with ADHD is incredibly high. In fact, in some reports, I have read that that percentage is as high as +40%. Understanding the traits or ‘superpowers’ ADHD gifts you, it makes sense that the entrepreneurial community is made up of several of them.
In business, these superpowers can include non-stop idea generation and creativity (the ability to look at things differently than others), being okay with risk and taking chances (and allowing employees to do so, too), effective and powerful problem-solving skills, the ability to connect well with people and get them excited about the future, providing employees with the space and opportunity to grow through delegation, support, and trust – and lastly, unrelenting resilience.
Like all strengths, these superpowers can also become weaknesses (those of you with a loved one or leader with ADHD know exactly what I am talking about, and I feel you!). And if a professional with ADHD doesn’t have the self-awareness, support, and discipline to execute and reflect, they cannot only feel completely hopeless, but it can be devastating to all aspects of their life – and potentially lead them down a dark and lonely path.
In addition to working with our clients and our incredible team at Creative Niche, I am also a Public Speaker and Author. After years of speaking to leaders and entrepreneurs around the globe, it inspired me to write a book about the extreme highs and lows of being an entrepreneur, and since my diagnosis last year, I have added an entire section to my keynote for entrepreneurs on the ADHD factor, as I believe through meaningful experience sharing (and also laughing at ourselves) it is the best way to connect and relate.
We are all unique, and that is what makes life so incredibly interesting and inspiring. An ADHD brain is a wild one, no doubt. It’s not easy to navigate all aspects of life with it, nor is it easy for those in our lives that support us – be it professional or personal – but it is also a gift in so many ways. For me, the key to living with it and harnessing the strengths I have from it comes down to continued growth and awareness (asking and being grateful for feedback) and spending the majority of my time working in areas of strength and passion. – Mandy Gilbert
- To learn more about ADHD, visit camh.