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

Overcoming Two Dimensional Interest and Managing into the Future

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We are brilliant at managing in-the-moment — handling inputs as they come across our desk, attending to crises and demonstrating quick thinking. No surprise there. For we are Global Creatives and we hail from the tribe of Master Responders! Managing into the future is an altogether different animal and ADHD influencers can suffer from a condition here called two-dimensional interest.

Two dimensional interest

This is exactly what the term implies - interest that lacks any nuance or depth. We use this type of interest to quickly, almost sub-consciously, ascertain our level of commitment and motivation for a task. Sometimes it is accurate but often it is not.

Common thoughts are: “This concept interests me!” or “This task is boring!”

Not much middle ground here. Humans are very much binary in their behavior and will quickly vote up/down, yes/no with little pre-thought. Those of us with ADHD will use the level of interest as a primary factor. The second example above is the dangerous one - where we will quickly evaluate a project or task, anticipate little to no interest and label it “Boring!”.

What is the likelihood you will return to this boring task?

Once labeled boring the task goes into a category of ‘avoid at all cost'!’ only to be reengaged when it becomes extremely time urgent and a true crisis.

Managing into the Future

If you want to take your agenda, your team, your vision to the next level you have to start managing future time. When you manage future time more effectively you give your people a destination they can buy into. Having a common destination begins to foster and build a sense of culture and process. To manage into the future effectively we have to address the concept of two-dimensional interest.

Why? Because when we say “This interests me!” we are really considering the immediate moment, as in “This interests me right now!”.

You can see how this declaration does not take the future and future opportunities into consideration. The future is often mislabeled as uninteresting because it is nebulous and not immediately actionable. In addition, ADHD devalues the future and future time… “Why plan for the future when I can take action now?”.

Managing into the future is a strategic gesture that is a muscle worth building. Uninteresting projects are often not interesting because they are either unsavory and hit an organization's pain point (like employee retention) or they are not well defined. Taking some time to explore this can actually generate… interest.

Reframing Interest

In addition to highlighting the immediate moment, we can also mistakenly view interest as a prerequisite to any meaningful engagement or commitment. This is not the case. Interest is not a prerequisite but something that can develop and grow with engagement. Interest is actually something that can develop with exploration and discovery. It is something to cultivate over time. Ditch the concept of a simple form of interest and assume interest is a byproduct of study and time on task. As you dig in and find something to be truly uninteresting then bring in others who find the topic area interesting. Hand over responsibility when possible and feed off the other party's level of interest.

Like motivation, interest is something that will often appear in the ‘rearview mirror’ once you engage and dig into what initially seemed like an uninteresting project.

Case in Point

Looking at an example is a good way to further understand this concept of two dimensional interest. Consider a topic like personal debt. Not only do many of us find this boring, we also can have some very negative feelings here especially if we experience debt! What’s fascinating about the Dave Ramsey blog post below is that he makes something nebulous relevant and he offers specific steps to move to a place solution. I don’t know if this is the most effective way to pay off debt. What I do know is that it is a good example of where my interest in the topic increased as I engaged the topic. See where else you can challenge two dimensional interest and convert interest into a multi-dimensional asset and not a simple voting tool.

Debt Snowball Method: https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/how-the-debt-snowball-method-works