Cameron Gott, PCC
ADHD Coaching for Leaders & Professionals
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The Global Creative Blog

Positive Structures: Expectations 2.0

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Great Cam! In your last post you suggest I leave the confines of my black hole and go in search of these nebulae - or, leave my negative structures and go in search of the positive structures. 

But how do I chart a course away from this negative structure for getting things done if I know no other way?  How am I supposed to do this if  my warp drive - my How - doesn't always engage?  It is a black hole after all - and they are very difficult to move away from!

True.  If traipsing along your Event Horizon at the edge of your black hole is a well established habit, then it can be very difficult to move away from.

If you can't pull away, then consider turning directly into its center.

Say what?

An effective way to neutralize a powerful force is to turn into it. Go willingly and explore the dynamics that give your  black hole its power.*

Expectation is one such structure that can reside in the depths of our black holes.  For individuals with ADHD, it is not unusual to find at the core of a large negative structure like our metaphorical black hole a misunderstood positive structure - especially concepts rich with process, such as expectation, time and routine. Similar to our perspective on time, Global Creatives can have a not-so-positive view of the concept of expectation. We often perceive expectation as a bar set very high - by others or ourselves - that we rarely meet. Expectation is also deeply dependent on time and the ability to estimate resources.

For a very long time, I viewed expectation as an insurmountable obstacle cloaked in mystery and negativity. Expectation was like a secret code I could not break. It was not until I ventured into the structural makeup of expectation did I realize that:  

- My fundamental understanding of expectation was flawed

- I could turn expectation into a practical structure that aided my goals and dreams when I got curious about its primary components.

ADHD is mechanical in nature. The challenge is in the regulation and management areas of the brain, which affect the mechanisms that manage time, priority and activation (When, What and How). ADHD can also have a hand in how we build and respond to certain structures. Like time, expectation can fall under the trappings of All or Nothing thinking. Global Creatives can set 'no expectation', but more often we set too high (or too tight) an expectation. The phrase shooting for the keyhole when the doorway will do resonates here. Global Creatives have a really hard time actually seeing the doorway!

This is black and white thinking that can also distort our distinguishing and prioritizing abilities. Black and White thinking is often confused with perfectionism.

Just as I am fascinated by the mechanical processes in which ADHD can throw a wrench into a good plan, I am equally fascinated by how we can better protect the things that ADHD can muddle - especially our When, What and How. If we can turn into the center of our black hole and explore the mechanical elements (and breakdowns) of expectation at work, we may be able to make some real adjustments.

Expectations 2.0

I was not aware that expectation could be something I might have a proactive hand in creating. I wrongly thought it was something created by forces beyond my reach. Only when I turned into my own black hole of compensating behaviors (such as focusing on the 'latest and loudest') and I took a wrench to my old expectations did I start to make the sustaining changes I desperately wanted to make. I started to develop positive motivators based on my own positive expectations, towards eventually being released from the confines of my local group of black holes.

What to Do

Assess your Current Definition of Expectation - Do expectations work for you or could they use a little overhaul?  Clues here would be if they are consistently out of reach, written by another hand or soaking in disapproval or some other negative space.

Consider a Perspective Shift:

External to InternalExpectations built from your own values and principles honoring your own strengths and skill sets.

Invisible to Visible - Like important documents on display under protected glass, bring your expectations out into the open to be seen and respected.

Final Destination to Measurement Tool for Daily Progress - Shifting my thinking here has made all the difference in the world. Expectation is now more about how I show up everyday rather than the final product.

100% to 85% (Perfect to Good Enough) - Kill the black and white thinking and lower the bar. To shoot for the doorway, you have to look for doorways.

Dialogue with Others - Nothing zaps the power of a negative entity like exposing it to light of day, and nothing does that like speaking to someone else. In the act of discussing expectation we distinguish what is relevant and what we can toss out with the old mind clutter. Expectation can be a tool to refine roles and responsibilities. Now I am constantly talking about expectation with clients, colleagues and myself. Discussing expectation allows me to get a better fix on my What, When and How.

Expectation for me now is a tool to look over the horizon, a tool to develop powerful agreements and understandings. It has become a very positive structure in my astronomical field of vision.

*This is a simple exercise exploring expectations and how to make them work for you and not against you.  If you find other more scary stuff in the middle of your black hole then stop and enlist the help of a professional.