Cam's Story - ADHD Challenges and Opportunities
I struggled in school and work until I became clear on the true challenge holding me back – undiagnosed ADHD. Change began when I surrounded myself with ‘Believers in Cam’ and unraveled how my Global Creative brain works and doesn’t work.
I’ve stopped trying to be good at things I’m not good at, and I’ve started being great at the things I am good at. In the process, I’ve discovered my own inner-entrepreneur, and turned my greatest challenge into an opportunity I can share with others.
School was OK until 6th grade, when it seemed everyone else took off and left me behind on the launch pad. In those days no one recognized ADHD and the teachers, who all liked me, wrote things to my parents like “Cam seems distracted in class,” “Can’t get his homework in on time,” or “I would like to see more consistent effort from Cam.” My parents were attentive parents and tried to get me help, hiring tutors and having me tested. But no one identified the problem until I identified it myself.
I survived high school largely by being successful athletically, having a solid set of friends and attaching myself to mentors like the school’s athletic director. The very nature of ADHD (attention and memory) that disrupts the learning process can also insulate oneself from repeated struggle and failure. I was like Bill Murray's character in the movie Groundhog Day, living the same day over and over again with little recollection or learning from the previous day. Good for resilience but not so good for linking small successes into bigger ones. I graduated from college by the skin of my teeth and I was teaching high school in Durham when, at an in-service, the leader began talking about inattentive ADHD.
Wait a minute - What? I thought ADHD was all about hyperactivity?
It turns out there is more than one form of ADHD, and the one that had been with me all my life was the distracted form of ADHD, which can include a very hyperactive brain. My form of ADHD disrupted cohesive thought, which I needed for finishing anything from a conversation to end-of-term evaluations.
I created coping skills and managed elements of my ADHD by throwing myself into highly kinesthetic and experiential learning environments like leading Outward Bound type expeditions and building ropes course with my students—yet that had not been a total answer. I loved teaching especially challenging my students to find where they thrived academically and as a person. I loved teaching but was challenged by the support work that went into good teaching practices. I struggled on a daily basis with getting myself organized, keeping up with the flow of paper and information, and, worst, getting any kind of writing done.
By great good luck, I found an ADHD coach. And that was the beginning. My coach helped me dump the fluid thoughts in my brain, get them outside my head so I could make sense of them, toss the fluff, organize and prioritize the rest into a feasible action plan and focus on what really mattered. Most relevant, my coach provided a positive form of accountability. Even when I forgot, avoided, or failed to complete an action, she offered the support to revisit and reengage the intention.
Over many years of trial and error, I discovered the missing link for me – The Timely Pause. With a skewed sense of time and a brain hungry for stimulation, I found that I had little sense of ending, of that point-in-time that defines the start and stop of everything we do. I struggled with successfully starting a task and taking anything to a real completion point.
Through my extensive training as a coach including the Coaches Training Institute, my teaching in two ADHD coach training programs and much personal experience, I developed a unique coaching method called the AEC model - Awareness, Engagement, Completion.
I now coach individual clients and also teach graduate level classes to coaches in these techniques, conveying the most up to date ADHD research and the highly effective methods I have developed to make the most of it.
If my story sounds familiar to you, I’m here for you.