Building Towers and the Good All Around Me
I recently was interviewed for a podcast called ADHD Rewired. I saw this as an opportunity to tell my own story of living with ADHD and share a little bit about the AEC model. I thoroughly enjoyed the hour I spent with the host Eric Tivers but as I listened to the audio last week (two months after the original recording) I noticed that a few key elements were missing from my own story.
Whenever I start working with clients I invite them to share their own experience because ADHD is unique and how it impacts individuals. I call this articulating ADHD. An important element of articulating ADHD is to explore the challenge in the context of the bigger opportunity. And, in a sense, this is what coaching is all about- working on a challenge in the context of the greater positive goal.
Interview with Eric Tivers:
As I listened to myself speaking with Eric I noticed that I was violating my own rules in articulating my experience. In the podcast I seemed to focus on the challenges of the past and not share with Eric and the listeners all the good that was supporting my efforts. In college it was not just my perseverance or the fact that school only cost $600 a semester that allowed me to stay and keep working toward a degree. As a teacher it was certainly not a love of writing a better term report that had me stay at Carolina Friends School for 6 years. Both at UMD and at CFS there were people and goodness that supported me tirelessly - the good that was all around me. In the podcast I joked that a lack of structure or accountability contributed to my struggle of being timely with my teacher reports but I didn’t speak up about the positive environment that coursed through CFS - the love and grace, the community that was there for me all the time. The faculty’s laughter, their care, attention and the seriousness they took in the education of young minds.
This was a community that said yes to my crazy ideas – the weed wacker-powered, 9,000 RPM, spinning top that burned a path across the physics class floor; the potato canons and exploding melons in General Science; the exploding sodium and water experiments in the quad that produced a column of fire 10 feet high (we had our goggles on); the permission to build a climbing tower/ropes course with students and run a full fledged outdoor education program. The confidence to ask me to teach a college level Physics course knowing my dismal college record illustrated in the podcast with Eric. Working at Friends School in the Nineties was a time of challenge for me with regards to living with ADHD but it was also a place to create endlessly and succeed and fall but always being supported in getting up and doing over. That permission and support gave me the space to figure out who I was and how I worked (strengths) and how I didn’t work (challenges). It was a time to build out my foundation - the realization of the importance of community and the power of collaborative efforts - as I constructed towers to the sky. Now I do very little outside of collaborative efforts and lean heavily on my small but supportive community of peers. To the Friends School community I say thank you!
Often when we tell stories we can focus on the challenge and not give a balanced view. I want my readers to know that I was not alone in my challenge in the early days of living with ADHD and I’ll guess that they are not alone either. So often when faced with a challenge we forget the good that is all around us too. In reflecting on my past I’m well aware of the goodness that supported me over the years.
Take a moment to inventory the good that is in your life. From this perspective challenges don’t look so foreboding and the obstacles don’t look so high.