Tag Archives: creativity

Living with ADHD: It takes a family

In May of 2010, I described a play that my wife and I saw about ADHD and the way it moved us. My son has ADHD. ADHD is both a wonderful gift and a burden. If one can manage to control the negative effects (impulsivity, hyperactivity, forgetfulness, aloofness, and the obsessive/compulsive traits) the benefits are remarkable. People with ADHD tend to have a higher degree of creativity, logic and reasoning capacity, objectiveness and quick recall.

Basketball Court Empty BenchIn children these positive traits are often masked because the child can’t seem to focus long enough to allow these to gifts blossom in the classroom. The lack of focus tends to be coupled with a number of anti-social behaviors like sudden outbursts, impulsivity and a lack of regard for people’s space.

We are very open in our household about ADHD. My son is aware that he has it, and although it frustrates him to no end, we refer to it as a “gift”. He is not the most popular kid in the class and is often embarrassed by things he does that appear to be out of his control or just plain weird. The act of him sitting through a one-hour mass is torture (I guess it can be for a lot of people…), but he tries. We’ve found little things that will help him cope when circumstances require him to be still, calm and focused. He will carry some silly putty in his hand and squeeze it to release tension and energy. When he was younger we found that brushing his arms and legs at night before bed or putting books on his lap or chest calmed him down.

We have found for our son that a well rounded “coping” program (I can’t bring myself to use the word “treatment”) is the most effective. Aside from taking Straterra, my son attends neurofeedback training once per week. This program has had some positive results thus far. To fall asleep at night my son was dependent upon Clonidine. He now no longer needs it and falls asleep naturally around 9pm on a school night. The neurofeedback is also helping him calm down.

This week my son was extremely disappointed that he sat the bench during his final basketball game at school. Like me when I was his age, he struggles with team sports. I think physical ability varies widely among those with ADHD, but in general it seems that individual sports are better suited for my son. Michael Phelps has ADHD and is regarded as one of best athletes of our time. My son was clearly frustrated about being a bench warmer this season. I can take some blame for not working with him much on his dribbling and jump shots. Many fathers dream of having a son that wants to go outside, play catch, shoot some hoops, etc. That’s not my son. Although we are beginning to notice a change. He is now becoming more interested in riding his bike and shooting hoops. He can’t do it for very long, but at least the desire is there.

Yesterday my son was given the highest honor in his fifth grade class for academic achievement. He maintained a 90% or above average in the first semester. Starting in fifth grade he began to take school very seriously. This was completely self imposed. He really drives himself at school and has worked his ass off this semester. We couldn’t be more proud.

If you are a parent of a child with ADHD, the best advice I can give you is to be open with it. Remind your child that they have a gift, but along with that gift comes some negative side effects that people won’t like. Prepare them for the comments that will come from friends and peers. Help them find coping tools. Listen and be understanding. Finally, take a holistic approach to this because it takes a family.

Are you running the right race?

“They’re off. Netscape is off to a quick start riding Navigator. Microsoft is trailing by two lengths riding Internet Explorer who had a little trouble getting out of the gate. Around the first turn Netscape has a huge lead, but wait a minute… Bill Gates is in the grandstand giving out his browser for FREE with Windows. Internet Explorer seems to be feeling the momentum and around turn two passes Navigator handily. Microsoft is widening it’s lead. What’s this?…Netscape is dismounting Navigator and gives up it’s saddle, bridle and stirrups to a new team of riders from Firefox, Google and Apple. Each of them gaining on Microsoft on different platforms. Through the third turn it’s Microsoft in the lead with Firefox close behind and Google and Apple trailing by more than two lengths…

OK…so overlaying the Browser Wars on top of a horse race may be a stretch. But I think it points out the interesting parallels between horse racing and business. This analogy was first brought to my attention many years ago by Paul Levine, a partner at Morganthaler Ventures and former CEO of Atria Software. In this analogy, the jockey is “you”. It doesn’t matter whether you are a manager or an individual contributor. You have control over where your company, department or career is headed. Like the jockey, you can slow down around the turns or dig in during the stretch.

The horse is the product or service that you market. The other horses and their jockey’s are the products, services and people that you compete with at various levels. The race is your chosen market. Are you running the Preakness or the Kentucky Derby, where the stakes are high and so is the competition? You can have the fastest horse in the field and the other horses may be weak, but if the race is a back woods venue with limited stakes is it really worth the effort?

At the end of the day it’s all about “the race”. The key thing to remember is that you choose the race you run. As you think about the New Year and begin to finalize your 2011 goals, ask yourself – “are you running the right race?” When the race is over was the experience worthwhile? When selecting your race, you need to look at the end game as well as the competition. Is the race you’ve selected something you can wholeheartedly bring energy, joy and excitement too?

Business is hard. No matter how great the odds of your success, you must have enough passion about what you are doing, day in and day out, that the race is worth it to you. Every successful person I’ve come in contact with will tell you it was not about reaching the goal so much as it was the experience of the race itself. If you can’t enjoy the journey, there is no reason to make the trip because the end result is often times anti-climactic.

What doesn’t kill you can make you stronger…

This has certainly been one of the most emotional weeks of my career. The death of our neighbor puts the whole week into perspective. To sum it all up, I’ve paraphrased an e-mail that I sent to my company today.


Our organizational changes and the impact it will have on all of us is significant. Now more than ever we need to pull together as a team. We have an unbelievable opportunity in front of us. I’ve been working closely with sales on both the new and existing customer opportunities. There is business to be had folks! We also have some tremendous opportunities with our Touch Screen POS and WebConnector product.

But back to putting life into perspective for a moment, the death of our neighbor here in Stuart brings to mind the fact that we lost someone in our “Exuma family” less than six months ago. Like our neighbor, she died of breast cancer. When I passed her surviving husband in the hall the other day he said (after just hearing about the changes) with a smile, “tough day huh Cam”? I said “yes”. He said “It can’t be fun to announce things like that but we will be Ok”. This came from a guy that just lost his wife six months ago! He has the ability to put things into perspective.

I also wanted to share with the team the e-mail I received from someone in our development group. I’ve paraphrased it below:

“From the very first few weeks of working here, back in the middle of March, I told my wife that this company seemed more like a family instead of just a company. I told her that I enjoyed being apart of this company because of that particular reason. I still feel that way even today. I think that like a family, this company has an ultimate goal to see all of us as a whole succeed and excel in all that we do and stand for. I understand the sacrifices that have to be made for the improvement of this family and stand behind it with my head held high in belief that we can make this happen. Thank you for keeping us all together. I’m definitely willing to put my best foot forward to see this Exuma vessel reach its destination and more.”

I couldn’t have said it better. We have Linchpins among us folks. We have people on this team who given a chance can to rise to heights they’ve never reached before. When life hands you lemons, time to make lemonade. Put life into perspective. Whenever I bring an issue to my mom who is a psychotherapist she always asks me “will it kill you?”. Once we establish that whatever issue I’ve brought to her is not life threatening, we work backwards through less devastating outcomes until she helps me arrive at a solution. It’s called Rational Thinking. You can read more about it here: www.refusetobeupset.com.

Anyway, I am proud of this team. I am proud of the way that we’ve been able to stick together. If we can stick together and give our co-workers and teams something to work towards, Exuma will continue to be a place of inspiration and creative output. Money is important. But it’s not the only motivation to do your best.

Reasons to work (excerpt from www.sethgodin.com)

1. For the money

2. To be challenged

3. For the pleasure/calling of doing the work

4. For the impact it makes on the world

5. For the reputation you build in the community

6. To solve interesting problems

7. To be part of a group and to experience the mission

8. To be appreciated

Why do we always focus on the first? Why do we advertise jobs or promotions as being generic on items 2 through 8 and differentiated only by #1?

In fact, unless you’re a drug kingpin or a Wall Street trader, my guess is that the other factors are at work every time you think about your work.