ADHD: When Fixed Appears as Broken

We live in a society that fosters negativity and self-limiting beliefs. Just look at the daily news, the endless array of advertisements for things to “fix” us, or the fascination with the mishaps of celebrities as just a few examples. The ego loves weakness, and we feed into it by focusing on it; and for some, this focus invades every aspect of life. The result for many is staying “stuck” and not moving forward. To bring about real change, we must be willing to have a more open mindset.

Here’s a parable that I feel illustrates this point beautifully, and then I’ll share a lived ADHD experience to open your mind:

Once upon a time there was an inn called the Silver Star. The innkeeper was unable to make ends meet even though he tried to make the inn comfortable with a reasonable price and good service. In despair, he consulted a wise man. After listening to his tale of woe, the sage said, “The solution is very simple. You must simply change the name of your inn.”

“Impossible,” said the innkeeper, “it has been the Silver Star Inn for generations and is well known countrywide.”

“No,” said the sage firmly. “You must change the name of your inn to the Five Bells Inn and have a row of six bells hanging at the entrance.”

“Six bells? That is absurd,” said the innkeeper. “What good would that do?”

“Give it a try,” the sage said with a smile.

Well, the innkeeper gave it a try and this is what he saw. Every traveler who passed by the inn ventured
in to point out the mistake, each one believing they were the only one who noticed the mistake. Once inside, they were impressed by how cordial the place was, choosing to stay and refresh themselves, thereby providing the innkeeper with a fortune he had been seeking for so long.

The moral of the story is this: There are few things the ego delights in more than correcting other people’s mistakes.

Powerful tale! What appeared broken was intentional, and thus it was “fixed.” Here is the same concept in real life:

Ron came to me wanting coaching to pass an exam to be promoted to the highest level of his profession. His job was a very high paying job in a profession that was predominantly hands-on with a small portion via book learning. Passing the exam required digesting several thoughts and pages of protocol. Like many with ADHD, Ron had a taxed working memory.

Thinking requires working memory that can be made easier by verbalizing thoughts… talking out loud. It was clear Ron benefited from talking out loud and happily owned it. In the simulation parts of his exams, Ron would talk out loud to himself and to the others in the simulation. In feedback and reviews, assessors were critical of Ron for his verbal processing and deducted points from his scores.

In the end Ron passed with one of the highest scores of the past decade. As broken as he looked, we both laughed, knowing it was the talking out loud that was less taxing on his working memory that enabled him to achieve such a high score.

While others point out your mistakes, could it be that you’re actually not broken? That you are more “fixed” than you believed? I coach those with ADHD all day five days a week. They are all motivated, have a level of organization, and get things done. I can prove it. The evidence is there. You just have to pay attention to it.

The fact of the matter is, if you weren’t motivated, you’d be dead (think about it). Even if you were totally disorganized, you would get the most basic things done. Just because others want to feel better about themselves by correcting you doesn’t mean you are broken. Ron can attest to this fact!

4 thoughts on “ADHD: When Fixed Appears as Broken

    1. Thank you for your comment. I hope you use the mindset in working with students to help you see how they are fixed. You might find them telling stories about you when they are an adult. Like Dr. Ned Hallowell talking about one particular teacher in elementary school who changed his life.

  1. Just love your work Jeff! This posting is one I just HAD to respond to because of if it’s pertinence to a discussion I had recently with a parent.
    Thank you for continuing your work and in the very way you do so well. I’ve missed opportunities in person to connect and say so to you directly in the past, but it is my truth to share.😊

    One other thought you generated for me about “fix“. I think it is a continual phenomenon because when we buy into “fixing“ we often, as a knee-jerk reaction, look for another Individual to fix. It becomes a diversion which keeps the “fix” in perpetual motion.
    Love the tavern story!
    Thanks again👏
    Liz Karlton

    1. Posts like this is why we do what we do. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. As for your “fix” comment, I’ve got something else for you to ponder. In coaching others who come to understand what works for them, before we wrap things up and as a means to inspire them to advocate for themselves, I like to share this: “It’s convenient for society if you do it their way.” Think about it. If work needs to be done, it is convenient for society to push it off on you, then bully you if you push back. Why? it’s convenient for them. Thanks again.

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