Attention Deficit's Cousin

Attenton Deficit Trait vs ADD

To understand the nature of ADT,  it is useful to know somethbing of its cousin, ADD.

Usually seen as a learning disability in children, ADD affects about 5% of the adult population.  Researchers using MRI scans have found that people with ADD suffer slightly diminished volume in four specific brain regions.that have various functions such as modulating emotions (especially anger and frustration) and assisting in learning.  One of the regions, made up of the frontal and prefrontal lobes, generates thoughts, makes decisions, sets priorities, and organizes activities.  While medications used to treat ADD don't change the anatomy of the brain, they alter the chemistry, which in turn improves function in each of the four regions and so dramatically bolsters the performance of ADD sufferers.

Add confers both disadvantages and advantages. The negative characteristics include a tendency to procrastinate and miss deadlines.  People with ADD struggle with disorganization and tardiness: they can be   forgetful and drift away mentally in the middle of a conversation or while reading.  Their performance can be inconsistent: brilliant one moment and unsatisfactory the next.  ADD sufferers also tend to demonstrate impatience and lose focus unless, oddly enough, they are under stress or handling multiple inputs.  (This is because stress leads to the production of adrenaline, which is chemically similar the the drugs we use to treat ADD.)   Finally, people with ADD sometimes also self-medicate with excessive alcohol or other substances.

On the positive side, those with ADD usually possess rare talents and gifts.  Those gifts go unnoticed or undeveloped, however, because of the problems caused by the condition's negative symptoms.  ADD sufferers can be remarkably creative and original.  They are unusually persistent under certain circumstances and often possess an entrepreneurial flair.  They display ingenuity and encourage that trait in others.  They tend to improvise well under pressure.  Because they have the ability to field multiple inputs simultaneously, they can be strong leaders during times of change.  They also tend to rebound quickly after setbacks and bring frsh energy to the company everyday.

Executives with ADD typically achieve inconsistent results.  Sometimes they fail miserably because they are disorganized and make mistakes. At other times they perform brilliantly, offering original ideas and strategies
that lead to performance at the highest level.

David Neeleman, CEO of Jet Blue Airways making use of his strengths - original thinking, high energy, an ability to draw out the best in people - and getting help with organization and time management.

Attention deficit trait is characterized by ADD's negative symptoms.  Rather than being rooted in genetics, however, ADT is purely a response to the hyper kinetic environment in which we live.  As the brain struggles to keep up, it falters and then falls into the world of ADT.... as the human brain is asked to process dizzying amounts of data, its ability to solve problems flexibly and creatively declines and the number of mistakes increases.

ADT can be controlled only by engineering one's environment and ones emotional and physical health.
- promote positive emotions
- sleep, good diet and exercise
- organize for ADT - your goal is to order your work in a way that suits you, so that disorganization does not stop you from reaching your goals, try breaking larger tasks down into smaller ones and keeping part of your desk clear.  Try keeping a part of your day free of appointments, email and other distractions so that you have time to think and plan

When you start your day, don't allow yourself to get distracted by minor tasks like email that take up your time but don't pack a punch.  Attend to a critical task instead.  Before you leave for the day, make a list of no more than 5 priority items that will require your attention tomorrow.  Short lists force you to prioritize and complete your tasks.