Recently, I’ve been watching Netflix’s ‘Physical 100,’ a Korean show where athletes from diverse fields of sports and fitness compete to see who has the ultimate “physique.” [Warning: This article contains a few spoilers, but I promise I won’t tell you who ultimately wins.] There are crossfitters, fitness influencers, Olympic gymnasts, rugby players, national team wrestlers – it’s a wide range of skills and strengths.
The first competition involves all of the players hanging from a metal structure (essentially a grid of monkey bars) over a pool of water. Using only their arms, the person who hangs on the longest wins. That’s it. You want to know who dropped out first? The powerlifters and those with the largest body masses. Who won? A professional mountain rescuer and ice climber. This guy literally hangs/climbs for a living.
Later, when the athletes had to lift a huge, 110-pound boulder over their heads and hold it on their shoulders like in the myth of Atlas, the powerlifter lasted for over 2 hours to beat everyone else.
This got me thinking about the parallels to ADHD. Put us in an environment not conducive to how our brains work and we feel weak, stupid and like we can’t win. But change up the environment, have us use our strength to lift heavy items with our brain muscles (yep, I’m fully committing to this metaphor) and we will thrive every time!
This is what we do in coaching. We help clients discover the environments in which they thrive and question the non-ADHD status quo. Here are a few examples:
- A client created a system for volunteer management at the nonprofit she was working at, but was having trouble maintaining it. She realized she loved the exciting/problem-solving part of creating the system but not the boring part of maintenance. Now she works as an in-demand consultant to build new systems but her client organizations are the ones who maintain them.
- A student client was having trouble paying attention and doing homework in boring, lecture-based classes. But a change in their major meant more discussion-based classes with engaging professors and now they are excited to be at the top of their class!
- A client wanted to get back into running but was having trouble getting out on the trails by himself. After joining a running club with people he liked, he was putting on more miles per week than he ever had before!
So the next time you find yourself not succeeding, question your environment, not yourself. Question the job, question the strategy, question the tool. You might secretly be a powerlifter trying to hang on. Need help doing that? We’ve got your back. As coaches we’re trained to spot the environments and situations in which our clients thrive and are ready to help you bring out your strengths!
Riley Karbon, PCAC
ADHD & Executive Functions Coach