From Our ADHD Archives: ADHD’s Practical Problem Solver

From Our ADHD Archives: ADHD’s Practical Problem Solver

ADHD pioneer, Dr. William Dodson, joins Ned to talk about the similarities he sees in neurodivergent people, the prevalence of Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, the omnipotential of those with ADHD, and what he wishes your doctor knew about the condition in this episode that was originally released in our third season.

Dr. Dodson specializes in the evaluation, treatment and support of adults and teens with attention deficits, learning problems, and related behavioral difficulties at his ADHD Center in Colorado.

For more information:

Dodson ADHD Center

Additude Magazine

Reach out to us with your questions and comments! Email [email protected].

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Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction today. We are welcoming a man I’ve wanted to have on this podcast for a very long time. It turns out he and I are the same age and we’re the same vintage and we’ve been barking up the same tree for an awful long time. William Dodson, Bill Dodson, has been specializing in adult ADHD for most of his career. And I’ve been toying around with the same syndrome for most of my career. And Bill has come up with some wonderful observations. And so this is a treat for me to tap the experience and the brain, the mind, of a man I’ve respected for a long time and have really never had the pleasure of interviewing. And welcome to Distraction Dr. Dodson.

Dr. William Dodson:
Good to be here. I’ve been looking forward to this myself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Give us just a couple of words about your background. How did you get into this world? How did you find yourself working with people who have ADHD, particularly the adults?

Dr. William Dodson:
I started back when I was a resident at Louisiana State University, and there was no place where anybody could go in all of New Orleans if they had learning disabilities and ADHD. So I and another resident started a clinic there that was still running until Katrina wiped out the entire hospital.

Dr. William Dodson:
But I’ve always been drawn to ADHD. I know it’s somewhat controversial nowadays to talk about it being the happy diagnosis, but it really is. There’s no place else in medicine where the outcome is that the person’s better than they’ve ever been. Usually in medicine we’re just trying to get people back to their previous level of functioning. But with ADHD, people are usually much better than they’ve ever been before in their lives. I mean, it takes a lot of work. I’m not belittling that. But the outcomes are usually wonderful outcomes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Just out of curiosity, who introduced you to the condition?

Dr. William Dodson:
No one. I think I heard a lecture from Randy Salle probably 25, 30 years ago, and that’s what really turned me on to really emphasize and specialize in it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That was at LSU?

Dr. William Dodson:
No, it was at a Continuing Medical Education Conference. The whole subject of ADHD was not mentioned in four years of my training, which I think is still at least 50% of adult psychiatry residencies just never mention it at all.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Sp you just kind of learned about it on your own.

Dr. William Dodson:
Yeah, I’m out here in the hinterlands.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How did you get to Colorado?

Dr. William Dodson:
I wanted to live here. I was actually practicing in Washington DC and had my first child and decided that was not a place to raise children. So I moved here to Denver.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You picked Colorado because it was a-

Dr. William Dodson:
Great place to live.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
When did you settle there?

Dr. William Dodson:
20 years ago.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you just started seeing adults with ADHD and began to realize that it was a good news diagnosis. They were doing okay, but they could do even better.

Dr. William Dodson:
Well also because people with ADHD have another comorbid coexisting condition about 70% of the time. The statistic is that about one in every five people who walks into a mental health professional’s office is going to have ADHD. And what I was finding was that the diagnosis was being totally overlooked. I would see patients who had seen half a dozen other clinicians and the missing piece was adult ADHD. And it had never occurred to anybody.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Why do you think that is?

Dr. William Dodson:
I think again, it’s lack of training. It’s just not something that people look for.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s not on the radar.

Dr. William Dodson:
Right. When we were going through school, it was a disorder of little boys.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And a lot of people still think of it that way.

Dr. William Dodson:
You have to almost be hyperactive and disruptive before you’ll get the diagnosis.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So for people listening who don’t know what this condition is, tell them. If you’re an adult listening right now, Dr. Dodson, how would they know if they have this condition?

Dr. William Dodson:
Well, that’s one of the major problems that confronts us is that we don’t have diagnostic criteria for adults that have ever been research validated. That sort of stops at age 16. For an adult to continue to meet the diagnostic criteria that we have for children, they would have to be functioning on the level of an elementary school aged child with untreated ADHD. And if that’s your cut off, somebody’s going to have to be severely impaired indeed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, how do you diagnose it?

Dr. William Dodson:
To me, ADHD is three things. There’s a cognitive piece, an emotional piece, and a arousal piece. The cognitive piece is if you ask a person with ADHD, look back over your entire life, if you’ve been able to get engaged and stay engaged, have you ever found anything you couldn’t do? A person with ADHD will think for a second, say, “if I can get engaged with something, I can do it.” The term that is out there that’s used out on the internet is it people with ADHD are omni-potential? They quite literally can do anything if they can get engaged.

Dr. William Dodson:
People with ADHD get engaged in one of four ways. The big one is they can do it when they’re interested. They can do it when they’re challenged or competitive. They can do it so long as it’s new, novel, or creative, but by definition, that one’s time limited. And they can do it when it’s urgent. That’s sort of the substitution for important.

Dr. William Dodson:
In those four ways, people with ADHD can get in the zone or get in the flow and be extremely productive, creative people. The other 90% of people that they rub elbows with, the neuro-typical people, for them being interested or challenged is totally optional. They can take it or leave it. Neuro-typical people use important and rewards as ways of getting engaged, getting access to their abilities, and getting things done. And so that’s one way where you can say always and never. A person who has ADHD is able to say, “I have always been able to do anything I wanted to do, if I could get engaged and stay engaged through interest, challenge, modeled in urgency, and I have never, in my memory, been able to make use of what everybody else makes use of, and that’s importance and rewards.”

Dr. William Dodson:
The emotional piece is what for 60 years has been called rejection sensitive dysphoria. I’m not responsible for these terrible names.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Who came up with that one?

Dr. William Dodson:
I don’t know. It’s very, very old, it’s 60 years old. But on my checklist, the question goes, for your entire life have you always been much more sensitive than other people you know to rejection, teasing, criticism, or your own perception that you’ve failed or fallen short. And virtually everybody that I see not only texts that, they put stars by it, they underline it. What it means is that the vast majority of people who have an ADHD nervous system are hard wired as part of the ADHD that if they perceive, it doesn’t have to be the reality, they just perceive that they disappointed somebody, and because of that, that person is at risk for withdrawing their love, approval, and respect, it’s excruciatingly painful. In fact, that’s what the meaning of the word dysphoria is. It’s Greek for unbearable or difficult to bear, because when they did the original work, they wanted to get right up there in the name just how severe this emotional pain was. And so just about everybody with ADHD will endorse that specific experience.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I mean, no one likes to be rejected. So you’re saying that it’s a quantum level beyond that.

Dr. William Dodson:
It’s several orders of magnitude greater. It’s devastating. If you ask people they can’t describe the quality of the emotional experience, but they do talk about its intensity is awful. It’s terrible. It’s catastrophic. It’s overwhelming. It just really throws people. If they internalize it they can look like as an instantaneous major depression. If they externalize it, it’s a rage at the person or situation that wounded them so severely. And so very commonly, these folks get misdiagnosed as being borderline because of that interpersonal nature of the trigger that sets off this emotional experience.

Dr. William Dodson:
The third piece is that people with ADHD have to have some sort of hyper arousal, either their having three or four simultaneous thoughts. They physically have a hard time sitting still. They have to be in motion. They can’t sit all the way through a movie for instance. Or, something that usually goes unrecognized, they can’t fall asleep at night. That as soon as it gets dark, they get a burst of energy, and when they try to go to sleep, they physically toss, turn, fidget, kick the covers off, and their thoughts bounce from one concern and worry to another.

Dr. William Dodson:
The average length of time is more than two hours before they can fall asleep, and so it’s a major cause of insomnia that generally goes unrecognized. In fact, people believe that the stimulant class medications are going to make this insomnia worse when actually it makes it better.

Dr. William Dodson:
In our group, what we do is, once we find to the medication as well as we can, we ask the person to lie down and take a nap after lunch, to prove that they sleep great on their medication, then they know they can take a second dose and sleep normally at night.

Dr. William Dodson:
Those are the three things that has to be. There’s a cognitive piece, where the ADHD nervous system works on the basis of interest and not importance. There’s an emotional piece of an exquisite sensitivity to rejection and criticism. And a third piece of some form of hyper arousal. That to me is ADHD and nothing else.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The usual triad of distractibility, impulsivity, and restlessness, you may find that, or you may not?

Dr. William Dodson:
You generally do, but what I’m looking for is most people come in, one of the first things they say as a goal is, “Do I have ADHD or not?” The vast majority of the people I see are self-diagnosed. Usually they have some, because ADHD is so genetic, they have somebody in the family who got diagnosed, got started on medication, they were transformed by medication and coaching, and they start talking to their cousin. Usually they try their cousin’s medication, know that it works great by the time they get in to see me.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That leads to the logical next question. Now, if this is how you diagnose it, what are the interventions? What are the treatments? You say we’re going to make your life even better. What re the ways you do that?

Dr. William Dodson:
Well, medications are what we’ve been doing for 50, 60 years. The ones in the stimulant class do one thing spectacularly well, and that is when a person’s engaged with what they’re doing already, that it keeps them from being distracted. And that’s really what the stimulants do.

Dr. William Dodson:
What we’ve done is we’ve missed the first step, and that is, how does a person with ADHD get engaged in the first place? And they engaged through interest challenge, novelty, and urgency. So with our people, what we ask them to do is write their own personal owner’s manual for their nervous system. Most people with ADHD were given the wrong owner’s manual back in preschool. All of the helpful hints, techniques, methods, whatever you want to call them, that they were offered by people, usually people who are neuro-typical, and that they see working for other neuro-typical people, don’t work for them at all, and so they have to figure out how do they, as a unique individual, get in the zone and become omni-potential.

Dr. William Dodson:
It’s usually as somebody is coming out of the zone that they recognize they were in the zone. When somebody is deeply engaged with what they’re doing, they’re really not self-aware that they are, so it’s when they’re coming out of the zone and they say, “Wow, I just got a whole day’s work done in about an hour,” and we have them stop right then, write down for themselves, how did they get in the zone and become superhuman?

Dr. William Dodson:
Was it because they were interested and, more particularly, what did they find fascinating? Was it because they were challenged or competitive? And what brought out that competitive streak? A good example of that one for the people who are listening to this podcast, imagine somebody saying, “Ned, you can’t do that.” What’s your first response? For most people with ADHD is, “Oh, yeah? I’ll show you.”

Dr. William Dodson:
You’ll know from personal experience that if you do have that response of accepting that challenge, whatever that challenge was, you’re going to have it mastered today because you slipped into the zone. And so it’s picking up little subtle moments when you go from just day-to-day life to getting in the zone and writing those down so that then you can come back and do them on demand, is something we found to be very helpful.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you have them sort of take an inventory of, what are the activities that put you into the zone? What are the moments? What are the prompts?

Dr. William Dodson:
Ways of thinking. What are the emotions that do that? So much of treatment in the past has been focusing on what doesn’t work. What are the executive function deficits? Which never made much sense to me because once you identify somebody couldn’t do something and then demand that they do it, you only get to failure with that.

Dr. William Dodson:
This is recognizing when things go spectacularly well and writing them down so that you can remember to do them the next time you have something that’s very important, but probably fairly boring.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. Do they do this one-on-one or do you have someone else work with them?

Dr. William Dodson:
Well, I’ve always found that people with ADHD work best in groups where they can feed off of each other, where they can learn from each other.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, you’ll do a group talking about what are the moments where you trigger into the zone?

Dr. William Dodson:
Right, and when things went. And then somebody else will say, “That’s what happened when I…” And they tell their story. The other thing that that does is being in groups helps people overcome a lot of the guilt and shame about having ADHD, is that they’re able to talk with people who really get it. Who’ve been through that themselves. That’s not going to make fun of them or tell them they’re doing it the wrong way because they’re not doing it in a neuro-typical way. So that the group has a lot of things going for it that no other modality of treatment does.

Dr. William Dodson:
You can also do it with family and friends. You can do it with teachers. You can especially do it with coaches who are able to pass on things that worked for other people they’ve coached in the past. You can do it with practically anybody anytime.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What else goes into your treatment plan, if you will?

Dr. William Dodson:
We generally refer people to coaches and, again, looking for different categories of things. There are some people who just need help with organizing daily life. There are some people who need coaching in relationships, because the relationship of somebody with ADHD with a partner who’s neuro-typical is going to have its own problems.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Do you find any particular problems recur more than others?

Dr. William Dodson:
The biggest one is that the neuro-typical person expects their partner to behave in a neuro-typical way. Intellectually, they know the person has ADHD and they may have even done some reading up about what ADHD actually is. But the knee jerk response is that their ADHD partner should be behaving in a neuro-typical way. The other big one is that the ADHD partner doesn’t seem to be listening to them, and that will really tick people off in a hurry.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And leads to all kinds of name calling, including by psychiatrists, like narcissistic and those kinds of words.

Dr. William Dodson:
Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I know you have particular medications in mind for rejection sensitive dysphoria. Do you want to talk about that for a minute?

Dr. William Dodson:
As with most everything in ADHD, it’s something that we just stumbled across and that is there are two medications that are FDA approved for the use of treating ADHD. They’re called alpha-agonist medications, Clonidine and Guanfacine are their names. They’ve been around since the mid 1980s. They were originally brought on the market as blood pressure medications, and so consequently they’re not controlled substances. You can just phone in a whole year’s worth at a time.

Dr. William Dodson:
As blood pressure medications, they were pretty poor. Nobody used them very much. But very quickly practitioners figured out, just through, again, real life experience that they were going to be the drugs of choice for a half dozen other conditions. They’re the treatment of choice for tic disorders, for Tourette’s syndrome. It’s the anesthetic they can do LASIK surgery under. A whole bunch of different uses.

Dr. William Dodson:
For years they’ve been the medication used for the hyperactive component of ADHD. And it’s in that context that we started seeing when we started a medication for hyperactivity, that in about 30% of people, the rejection sensitivity would just go away.

Dr. William Dodson:
It’s a different 30% for Clonidine and Guanfacine. It’s not the same patient population for either medication. So if the first medication doesn’t work, we stop it and we try the other one. We end up trying both of them sequentially, not at the same time, but sequentially, you get about a 50-60% robust response rate.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What kind of dose?

Dr. William Dodson:
If you take all the people who get a response, 80% of them are going to be at three tablets. That’s three milligrams of Guanfacine or three-tenths of a milligram of Clonidine, which still means a 20% are going to be higher or lower. But by far, the most common dose is going to be a three.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Is there any category of predicting which, whether of Clonidine or Guanfacine?

Dr. William Dodson:
Nothing predicts response to either medication or predicts [inaudible 00:22:54] is not going to respond. It’s just something you got to try and see.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Do it’s like Methylphenidate or Amphetamine. You can’t tell. You just got to try.

Dr. William Dodson:
With all the medications in ADHD. There’s no predicting. You just got to try them. And it doesn’t run in families either.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How long does the trial of Guanfacine last?

Dr. William Dodson:
It takes about two weeks. With the stimulants, when we give a stimulant, we’re going to see everything the stimulant is going to do in an hour.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s the beauty of stimulants.

Dr. William Dodson:
All of its benefits, all of its side effects, in one hour. With the alpha-agonist, it takes about five days for the benefits to develop. So we change the dose every fifth day. So Guanfacine we do one milligram for five days, then two milligrams for five days, then three milligrams for five days. So that takes about two weeks to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And the Clonidine, you start with 0.1?

Dr. William Dodson:
With Clonidine it’s 0.1, 2.1, 3.1. It only comes in a 0.1 size.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. And then again, do you sometimes get a response at 0.1?

Dr. William Dodson:
Yes, you do. That’s why you pick it up. You can get a very good response just at one tablet.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And a response means if someone walks up to them and says, you’re ugly, they don’t go into a big depression.

Dr. William Dodson:
Right. They just say, well, that person’s unpleasant, and walk away.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What a difference

Dr. William Dodson:
The other thing that you see is that the number of simultaneous thoughts that a person has goes from three or four down to the one that they want. A lot of people, even when they’re on a stimulant medication, will still have two, three, four simultaneous thoughts going on. And that in and of itself is distracting.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Now you can of course combine the stimulant with the alpha-agonist, right?

Dr. William Dodson:
In fact, that’s how they’re usually done. In fact, they’re combined so frequently that the FDA has actually tested them and approved them for use at the same time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, this is a wonderful thing. And you’ve pretty much pioneered this, correct?

Dr. William Dodson:
I’m the first person that started writing about it. And again, it’s just one of those things that, as you say, we’re naturalists. If you see the same thing happening over and over again you know it’s important. You may not know why, but you know it’s important.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. Yeah, no, exactly. And it’s a great contribution, but so is your way of categorizing all this. I know you have a book that you’re on the brink of coming out with, is that correct?

Dr. William Dodson:
It’s been on the brink for a long time now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, but this time you’re going to… Do you think 2019 will be the year?

Dr. William Dodson:
I’m shooting for Christmas time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Excellent. Well, please allow me the honor of writing a blurb for it. Do you have a tentative title?

Dr. William Dodson:
Well, it’s either going to be something formal like, The Practice Of ADHD Medicine, or something informal like, What You Wish Your Physician Knew About ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, maybe one could be the title and the other could be the subtitle. That’s often a good way to combine those two. And if someone wants to find you, is there a website they can go to?

Dr. William Dodson:
Yes, it’s dodsonadhdcenter.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s D-O-D-S-O-N, right?

Dr. William Dodson:
Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
D-O-D, as in dog, S-O-N adhdcenter.com.

Dr. William Dodson:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If they want to reach you, they just go to that website?

Dr. William Dodson:
Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You will respond to them, or do you have someone else respond to them, how does that-

Dr. William Dodson:
I try and do it myself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I know you’re very approachable. And you also write frequently for ADDitude Magazine, correct?

Dr. William Dodson:
Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a wonderful magazine. They do a great job at it. If they want to go to ADDitude, again, just go to… What’s their website? Just ADDitude?

Dr. William Dodson:
It’s ADDitude, A-D-D-I-T-U-D-E, mag, M-A-G, .com. It’s additudemag.com. One of the nice things is they’ve been publishing for 20 years, but they have everything they’ve ever published in a searchable format online. So if you want an article that they printed 10 years ago on ADHD and sleep, you can pull it up from that website. It’s probably the largest ADHD website in the world. They get more than a million discrete hits a month, so it’s very popular.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow. They’ve done a great job. Sarah Kaufman and Wayne Kalyn. You’re one of their mainstays.

Dr. William Dodson:
As are you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you. And this is a real pleasure. And just again, Dodson, D-O-D-S-O-N, adhdcenter.com. And if they want to track down articles that you’ve written in ADDitude, like on rejection sensitive dysphoria, or on any… You write the most practical articles. Truly listeners, if you want practical, Bill Dodson is practical. He’s not in the clouds, he will tell you how to solve problems. And he also shares with me a very positive approach to all of this. He’ll tell you how to make things better for yourself and not get mired in the misery of it all.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
He and I have both seen a lot. We’re both getting a little bit older and we’ve seen a lot. But fortunately, what we’ve seen is how great life can be with this condition if you learn how to manage it, right. Would you agree with that, Bill?

Dr. William Dodson:
Th word I use is embrace it. If you embrace it and you start learning about it and you see what works, it’s a good life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It hurts you if you run away from it, that’s when it does its damage, and that’s when you get addiction and the prison population and all of that. It’s when people, and a lot of men, unfortunately, don’t want to… How do you deal with them, Bill? How do you deal with the wife who says, “My husband won’t come to see you because he thinks it’s a bunch of crap”?

Dr. William Dodson:
Usually the last thing that somebody has to overcome is a combination of shame and the rejection sensitivity. They don’t want to be blamed. They don’t want to be the one that’s at fault, that’s got the defect, because it hurts so much. And usually if I can get the spouse to give them just something short, a one page on rejection sensitivity and the fact that it’s got a treatment, that usually can overcome that hopelessness and shame.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, gosh, I could talk to you for a lot longer, but I can’t thank you enough for coming on. I look forward to your book coming out and congratulate you on the wonderful career, and many more years to come. Thank you so much, Dr. William Dodson and dodsonadhdcenter.com. Thanks a million.

Dr. William Dodson:
Pleasure to be here. Good to talk to you, Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Take care.

Dr. William Dodson:
Bye-bye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, that was Dr. William Dodson. Really one of the great men in the field. He’s truly in the trenches, been doing it for as long as I’ve been doing it. He’s seen it all and then some. He’s taken what he’s seen and turned it into real pearls. He’s a naturalist. You can find a lot of his work in ADDitude Magazine. Again, A-D-D-I-T-U-D-E mag.com. And he’ll have a book coming out, hopefully around Christmas.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell. I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer and looking forward to a terrific fall. And I’ll look forward to talking to you again soon. If you have a question for me or a show idea for us, email it to [email protected]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode of Distraction you’ve just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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From Our ADHD Archives: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective ADHD Adults

From Our ADHD Archives: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective ADHD Adults

To help celebrate ADHD Awareness Month we’re re-releasing some of our most-downloaded shows from Distraction’s first three seasons!

In this mini episode from season 2, Dr. Hallowell gives his spin on Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, with a similar list for those with ADHD. From doing what you’re good at, to asking for advice, you’re bound to find a few nuggets of applicable wisdom for your own life. But as Ned advises, this is his list, so if these habits don’t resonate with you, add your own to the list!

Share your episode ideas and questions with us! Write an email or record a voice memo with your thoughts and send it to [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Do you know someone who learns differently? Our sponsor, Landmark College, might be the right place for them. Learn more HERE.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one, Omega Three Supplements, for the past 20 years, OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com and by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College. The college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. As everyone knows, years ago, Covey and company came out with a very famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It became extremely famous, has sold, probably gazillions of copies, probably printed into Martian by now. Anyway, I lifted that motif and put it into my book Delivered From Distraction and came up with The 7 Habits of Highly Effective ADHD Adults. And what I’m going to do is give you my take of what are at least seven habits of highly effective ADHD adults. That you can add your own. Certainly the point of it is to come up with what works best for you and to make habits, make these habits if you possibly can.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So number one, do what you’re good at. Don’t spend too much time trying to get good at what you’re bad at. A lot of people with ADD, spend a lifetime trying to get good at what you’re bad at. And it’s really sad to see. And then they have some sort of moral imperative that they’re going to… Before they die, they want to become really good at accounting because they think they should. And as a result, they waste a lot of very precious time when they could be doing what they’re good at, trying to get good at what they’re bad at big mistake.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Number two, delegate what you’re bad at to others as often as possible. You know, if you don’t have anyone to delegate it to, then hire someone. But one way or another pass off to someone else by delegation, by hiring, whatever means you have. If possible delegate to others, what you’re bad at now. You can’t delegate brushing your teeth. You know, there are some things that you just have to do yourself, but as much as possible have other people do what you’re bad at.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Connect your energy to a creative outlet. I call this the creative imperative. People with ADD really need a creative outlet. We do so much better when we have a creative outlet. The reason I write books, if I don’t have a book going, I get depressed. It’s like a cow needs to be milked. I need to have a creative outlet. Really, really, really important. And I’ve found that for most of us would ADD, this is essential. It’s, more important than almost anything in bringing out our best. We really need a creative outlet.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Number four, get well enough organized to achieve your goals. The key here is well enough. That doesn’t mean you have to be really well-organized, at all. Just well enough organized to achieve your goals. So, you don’t want disorganization to keep you from reaching your goals, but that doesn’t mean you have to be Martha Stewart and appear in House Beautiful. It doesn’t mean you have to win the promptness award. You know, the school I went to, they always gave a promptness award, but that’s not what you want to do. You want to make sure that disorganization does not prevent you from reaching your goals. That’s the key, well, enough organized.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Number five asks for and heed advice from people you trust and ignore as best you can the dream breakers and finger wagers. An old friend of mine used to say, be a dream maker, not a dream breaker. Listen to the dream makers, listen to the people who are encouragers, not discarded jurors. Now, of course you don’t want to be wildly unrealistic, but I think it’s better to go to your grave, living off an unmet dream than go to your grave with a bunch of shattered dreams.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And number six, make sure you keep up regular contact with a few close friends. Those of you who have listened to me before know I’m big on what I call the other vitamin C, vitamin connect. Make sure you connect and stay in touch with a few close friends. Probably the most important thing, or one of the most important things, you can do in your life. You know, the surgeon general has named loneliness as the biggest medical problem in the United States today. Well, one of the great antidotes to loneliness is to stay in touch with friends. Now, if you don’t have any friends, start making it a priority to make friends. Join a gym, join a synagogue, church, or other free place where people get together a library or start frequenting a certain, a convenience store or a mom and pop store, a restaurant, any place where you can meet people. And Heaven knows that online, there are any number of chat rooms. And just try to make friends, keep up with friends. And of course my favorite, one of all, which counts as a person is get a dog.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And number seven, go with your positive side. Even though you have a negative side, make decisions, run your life, and present to the world your positive side is as much as you can. Now that doesn’t mean you have to walk around with a smiley button. When you’re having genuine conversations with other people, of course be real. Let people know what you’re really feeling, but don’t walk into a job interview and say, I’m really second rate. Try to present with your positive side.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, those are the seven habits that I picked. You can pick your own. To recap, do what you’re good at, delegate what you’re bad at, connect to a creative outlet, get well enough organized to achieve your goals, ask for and heed advice from people you trust, Make sure you keep up with a few close friends, and go with your positive side. Those are the seven habits that I’ve chosen of highly effective ADHD adults.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distracted. If you have a question for me or a show idea for us, email it to [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you. We want to hear from you. So 844-55-Connect or email at [email protected] Distraction is produced by Collisions, the podcast division of CRN International. Collisions, podcasts for curious people. Our sound engineers and editors are the wonderfully talented Pat Keogh and Chris Latham, and our producer is the multitalented and unbelievably brilliant Sarah Guertin.

The episode distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD. Formulated by OmegaBrite, wellness creators of the number one Omega-3 Supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

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