Running a business when your mind won’t stop running: ADHD and Entrepreneurs. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. As the strong-willed, oppositional defiant, wild child, I absolutely loathe the idea of following the crowd, being told what to do and stuffed into someone else’s idea of how things should look.
The thought of being a “team player” and having to hear water cooler banter makes me cringe in ways that haunted houses could only dream of inspiring. So, what is someone with a “strong personality” and more ideas than time, as well as an Olympic-level ability to hyperfocus on something they are interested in, better suited for, than working for themselves?
You have to be a little bit out of your mind to ever consider working for yourself, let alone, execute it with success. Fortunately, my proclivity for anarchy fuels me and gives me the dopamine my darling brain struggles to produce on the regular. The amount of decisions that need to be made and risks that need to be taken are not for the faint of heart.
In fact, most businesses fail within the first five years because of the intense number of demands and requirements of being an entrepreneur. It is stressful, overwhelming and filled with so much chaos. Luckily for me, there are very few things that excite me more than the absolute magic I feel, plucking an idea out of my mind and then obsessing about how to make it come to life.
Now, I know what you might be thinking: “This sounds terrible! Stress? Pressure? Chaos? Why would anyone be excited about that?” Well, after sitting in cubicles for most of my twenties, and feeling an intense aversion to being told what to do, how to do it and when, I knew that I had to figure out a way to carve a path for myself, that also made me money.
You see, I am not your typical person. I have super-powers that I have been able to cultivate in order to create a life that allows me to thrive. I have a gift called Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and my brain thrives in the wonderful landscape, that appears to cause mayhem for the rest of the world. Now, neurodivergence is not a walk in the park. There are times where it is excruciating. I often feel at the mercy of my brain and wish I could have an idea and then execute it, without having to go through the process of overthinking and obsessively researching it first … or worse, frozen in overwhelm of how to start.
I sit here surrounded by sticky notes and notebooks filled with projects and thought fragments, waiting to be developed. There is also this really annoying nagging feeling that I have forgotten something, but for the life of me, I cannot recall what it is. There are emails unanswered and my time distortion means I am likely going to be a few minutes late for my next client.
I have a terrible time thinking of things that are out of my eyesight, hence why I am surrounded by papers and reminders. If I do not write everything down, set loads of alarms and purchase every organiser known to mankind, I fear I will combust and never finish anything. My brain seems to pick, at random, what it prioritises, and it can feel daunting when there are deadlines at play, because we love the exciting rush procrastination allows.
But then there is magic; moments when I bring to life what my heart begs of me and it is the most perfect and beautiful creation. Times where everything just comes together and I can focus so intensely on a project or task, that it’s as though nothing else exists. When I sit and think about all of the various symptoms of ADHD, it is no wonder I adore mayhem! It is where my brain feels most at home.
In order for me to have a fulfilling life where I am thriving, I had to turn all of my passions, interests and areas of expertise into ways to generate income. As someone who was orphaned at six and spent her youth in foster care, my healing journey in grief recovery have been the main focus of my life.
I have used writing as an outlet since I can remember and speaking words of love and self-esteem into myself and others have been powerful tools that have allowed me to heal. When I stopped to think about all of those different avenues and lean into them, it made perfect sense that I could spend the rest of my days focusing on helping others recover from their grief through coaching, publishing my writing and giving talks. For many of us neurodiverse folks, we struggle with being accepted and fitting into a seemingly narrow and unnatural way of existing as a neurotypical.
Running a business and having ADHD demand a belief in yourself that your ideas are worthy and that you can do incredible things …but only if you can let go of trying to be perfect. One of the most transformational decisions I have made for myself in business is permission to exist as I am. That I don’t have to contort and force myself into boxes just so I fit in. Instead, I create spaces that support my varying needs and provide what I require to succeed and stand out.
When I am faced with tasks that I do not enjoy doing, I delegate and hire people who excel at them. My commitment is to meeting my needs and surrendering to the fact that it might not always make sense to anyone else. And if it means running my business while my mind won’t stop running, I will always welcome a little chaos.