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How My ADD Actually Helped My Career

How My ADD Actually Helped My Career

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Today, I’m home with the flu, which I haven’t had for some 20 years. I suppose most of us know the feeling when life gets in the way and messes with our plans.

Well, this has caused me to reflect a bit about how I came to be where I am today, and why I feel so passionate about Career ADD and speaking out for those of us who are suffering with these afflictions.

There is a wonderful site that I often refer to, www.adderworld.com. I want to encourage you to check it out. It may help give you a voice and/or become aware of tools available for diagnosed or undiagnosed ADD/ADHD.

So, the part of my story I want to share with you is a very dark time in my life after leaving KidzArt, the company I founded, which continues as an international art franchise today in 11 countries and 29 states. At the time, I left, I was longing to return to career counseling.

This is the work I have always loved and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon. I was then locked into a semi-corporate structure – one that never suited me and, because it was my “baby,” I felt compelled to make a go of it for myself. The truth is, I was seriously burning out. I was unhappy – miserable in fact.

I did not wake up looking forward to the days’ challenges as I had in the beginning. When the company was formed, we really had no clue how to successfully form a franchise system. It was a combination of luck and tenacity that kept us going, but at the expense of leaving a negative mark on the folks I worked with due to my ADD. At the time, I was undiagnosed.

I had no clue why I felt different (as I had my entire life) and why others didn’t get what I was trying to accomplish. After all, I was the one who brought pretty much everyone into the company and had taken steps to develop the concept. Had it not been for ADD, I doubt that KidzArt would exist today. It’s called “hyper-focus” – something we do when we are truly engaged. Of course, that is the good news.

Deep down, I felt that how I envisioned the “big picture” (an ADD characteristic) was what needed to be done to make us successful. Sometimes, it almost felt like having “psychic” abilities, but trying to fit in with “normal” folks can be a challenge, to say the least.

I don’t know how things would have changed had I known or been diagnosed, but frankly my leaving was the best thing that could happened. Perhaps I would have left sooner. It was not on good terms. I lost friendships, trust, and confidence. Not pretty. Our administrative assistant was a very organized and almost “anal” personality, and as you can imagine, we clashed on almost every level. Details? What details? Organized? Not!

A few months before leaving KidzArt, I got divorced and became a newly single mom. In addition, the company took a nosedive due to the recession. Our salaries were cut in half – not good in my situation. I became fearful and negative, and dreaded our Wednesday afternoon staff meetings. Each month, I was going deeper and deeper in the red with no back up. I wanted out of the torture that I spent so many years creating. Life happened. So financially, emotionally, and physically, I had bottomed out.

Once I was diagnosed, I began to check myself with other people. While it’s not perfect, I am living a much less stressful life and doing more of what I enjoy. With my skills and background in career counseling, coupled with my knowledge of how ADD can take a tremendous toll on our lives, I have set out to bring Career ADD to the forefront. Not only can I relate to it personally, but it brings out the best in me. For me it’s about:

  1. Having a purpose that helps me stay on track.
  2. Continuously seeking tools to manage my ADD.
  3. Having the support I need and understanding to move forward and succeed by doing the things I love to do in my work.
  4. Telling my story.
  5. Sharing my insights.
  6. Keeping my eye on my Big Goal and taking small actions to reach it.

What’s your story?

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Shell Mendelson Founder of NB Careers. Specializes in guiding individuals with Career ADD and Career Paralysis to define career direction.