ADHD: Nonlinear Learning

Many of those with ADHD don’t learn in a linear fashion. They tend to ping pong all over the place, bouncing from topic to topic based on what they’re interested in. In the long term, do they actually learn? Or is it a waste of time? In this video, ADHD coach Jeff Copper shares a personal experience how his non-linear learning over a period of time is starting to come together in a very orderly way. Jeff shares his insight, hopes, and observations from his personal experience to inspire you to stick to the learning method that best suits you. If you need inspiration and if you’re a non-linear learner, this is a video you won’t want to miss.

Video Transcript:

Welcome, everybody, to this edition of Attention Talk Video. I’m your host, ADHD and attention coach Jeff Copper, and today I’m an amateur guitar player. And I’m here today to talk to you about learning… non-linear learning. One of the things that I have… I wrote an article many, many years ago called Failing Forward at the School of Hard Knocks, and the point of it is, is when you go to university and stuff and you learn things, it’s a transfer of knowledge. People teach you, like, you know, we’ve already figured out what the wheel is and we figured out math. We’re going to show you how to do it and you walk through and you learn how to do it. And you get tools and you learn things.

When I went and got my MBA, I learned about marketing and quantitative methods and process over really, really kind of tools, but when you get that knowledge you go out into the world and you have to apply that knowledge, and as I described, there’s only one degree at the School of Hard Knocks and that is failing forward. And one of the things that… I’ve actually done a video on this… is that when you read a book before in the early days about playing a guitar and read a little bit of music theory, at the end of the day I got to take this hand and I’m gonna put it on the chord here, and I’m gonna do a C-note. So, the first time I did it, it didn’t sound very good.

And I did it over and over so I was practicing and I failed forward. The idea really is that the only way to get it right was to get it wrong an awful lot.

Now, the one thing about playing the guitar… I’m rhythmically challenged and… which is why I don’t dance. I slow dance; I sway, but needless to say, is… There’s few things in this world that I’ve ever really done that, if I wasn’t very good at it, that I stuck with it, and I’ve been sticking with the guitar, you know, like 35 years or whatever it is. And it’s been one of those things that sits in the corner and sometimes I don’t do anything and sometimes I play a lot; sometimes I pick it up and play for two minutes, then I kind of go about my business.

And I’m relating this to ADD because sometimes learning the scales and doing things are a relatively boring thing and it’s difficult. But what I’ve done over the years is I’ve gone out and got some chord books and I play music and I try to play along to a song, and over the years I’ve learned some chords and over time I actually began to realize, hey, I actually got some of this down, and one day I went out and said I just need to get my right hand, the strumming right, and all of a sudden things started to sound recognizable.

And here’s the… my point is this is that the way I learned it, I didn’t sit down and bang through the scales. I didn’t go… I’ve kinda like done a little of this, a little of that, a little of this over here, little of this over there, and I’ve come and gone. What’s interesting is every once in a while something will click. By accident I’ll figure something out or I’ll get a tip or whatever. And I know it’s been 35 years and I have… but I haven’t really done this. It’s really been mostly a hobby, but things are starting to kind of come together, and I’ve had friends over before. We just get on the Internet; we pull up a song; and all of a sudden I can play it, and they can recognize it. And I’m just playing a rhythm guitar by the way, so it’s really just kind of chord-based.

But the… my point really is that sometimes people with ADHD, we just learn a little differently. It’s nonlinear and in order to keep the interest, you’ve got to go gravitate to what happens. Now, it might not be the most efficient means per se but the purpose of this video is I’ve actually gotten there. I’ve gotten a lot further. Like, I actually listen to myself and go, wow, that’s a lot better than what I ever thought it would be.

And so the idea is really to take the pressure off and realize that a lot of times learning is about failing forward. You actually have to go and you have to fail. When I got into this coaching business, I was using my MBA, but ADHD coaching was an industry that was relatively new. There was nothing to benchmark it off of and I got a lot of stuff wrong. I talked to, like, the Linda Rogglis of the world and the Alan Browns and the Rick Greens and Elaine Taylor-Klaus, a lot of other people in the space, when we were trying to figure out the marketing of it. And we were all spending a lot of money that didn’t go anywhere, but things are starting to kind of come together now, which is interesting.

I did an interview with Russ Ramsay of the University of Pennsylvania about the evolution of coaching recently, and he actually kind of talked about how the coaches have really brought the business and the marketing side to some things and really making ADD fashionable, which was an interesting insight.

But really, to get back to the real point, is often we get all anxious, and anxiety, because we don’t learn in a really linear fashion and really I’m just here… testament is that I’ve been learning how to play guitar and actually it’s kind of recognizable for other people. And I haven’t done it like the way that you’re supposed to do it, but I got there. I took the pressure off and I kind of did it my way and I’ve kept my interest in it 35 years and I don’t think I would have had it early on.

So if anything, I just really hope this is validating you if you’re doing something out there and sometimes you just gotta do it your way. Lord knows, with my dyslexia, I had to do it my way. I remember, going through college, I didn’t read books. I read the first line of each paragraph because I couldn’t keep up with the reading, which, by the way, sosh books… I used to read the first sentence of each paragraph but they’re all run-on anyway so I would just read the first sentence of each paragraph and get the gist of what was going on and sit and take notes in class in order to get through and pass the class. So I didn’t read very much but that was a strategy. I did it my way and I got through college and then went on to get my MBA.

So, anyway, I hope this video actually inspires you to pause to think. You gotta do it your way whatever way that is, and for me, I’ve done it my way in different parts of my life and guitar’s one of them. And I wish I could play a song for you. Actually, we’ll try one real quick. I don’t know if I can do this with all the pressure. Let’s see. How do we go?

[Music]

Anyway, I’m gonna let that go just because I’m not that great, but anyway, those of you who are familiar with Harry Belafonte might recognize that song. So, anyway, subscribe to our channel by hitting that. Please leave some comments, your thoughts, how you learn, do it differently, but are you all over the place and at some point in time does it come together? And what are your thoughts? I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Attention Talk Video and I hope it’s given you pause to think. Take care.

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