This was my answer to the question, “Do you have ADD?” I could not have Adult ADD. That’s a fake disease for people who can’t get things done. But the man asking the question was Dr. Norman Rosenthal, an icon in psychology. He was the man who wrote the book on S.A.D, St. John’s Wart, and Transcendental Meditation. So when he said, “Just humor me and take this test,” I did.
“You are off the charts, ADD,” he said after scoring my test.
I was in shock. I could not believe it.
“And it affirms my theory about you,” he continued. “I know you came here to treat depression, but I think there is a deeper root issue. You have a lot of ideas and projects and you don’t get them done because of ADD. That causes you to stress, so you get very anxious and you work even harder without focusing. Then when you run out of energy from being anxious, you get depressed.”
Then there was the medication test. Ironically, stimulants slow down the brain of someone with ADD. If you don’t have ADD, they feel like having too much coffee. But if you do have ADD, it’s very calming. When I took the medication, it felt like I was relaxed and breathing for the first time.
The long term effects of using stimulants were too risky for me to continue for long, but now I had a new lens – one that I need to remember from time to time as this cycle starts up again.
I have found a very surprising tool for how to deal with the stress of having a lot of ideas. I’m actually using it, right now as I type this. In fact, you’re reading the product of it. Let me explain.
I was listening to Kayne Mantyla of WeFloat.net who has a great definition of stress:
Very simple: Stimulus come in (in the form of anything – conversations, phone calls, problems, challenges, ideas, tasks, requests, entertainment, news). If we have the resources to process them, there is no stress. But if they build up and we can’t process it all, then we get overwhelmed. Then the system is overloaded and we get stressed, sick, annoyed, angry, etc.
The opposite of stress is Integration. That’s what happens when we have strong resources in the form of balanced emotions, healthy bodies, systems to process information, methods of getting things done, etc.
Now I’m sure you can think of many resources such as yoga, meditation, healthy foods, exercise, systems of getting things done, etc. I have another to add. First, more on the problem.
I have so many thoughts, theories, ideas, and projects that I can’t integrate them. In fact, for this year-end review I went through my idea notebook (below) and can’t believe how much I’ve come up with but never really did anything with all these ideas. And I have so many blog post ideas I wrote, but I never actually wrote them. And now my energy is not in them and some of my notes don’t even make sense now.
It’s easy to see why…
We have so much input, especially with media consumption. Think about it this way: How many books, shows, articles, and movies did you consume this year? Now, how many did you create? This is the energetic equivalent of constipation – eating a lot but not processing it all. No wonder so many people are so stressed out!
What we need is to balance the ratio. Less consumption, more creation.
And there is a fantastic manual on it:
This little $7 book is pure gold.
It’s a basic idea, explained beautifully with many examples: Show what you’re working on, show what you’re thinking about. It makes it real. It takes it out of your head, you get feedback and most importantly, you get what’s probably the most rewarding value of all: Contributing to someone else’s life. His other book Steal Like an Artist, is also great. Here’s what he found after writing it:
“Almost all of the people I look up and try to steal from today, regardless of their profession, have built sharing into their routine. These people aren’t schmoozing at cocktail parties; they’re too busy for that. They’re cranking away in their studios, their laboratories, or their cubicles, but instead of maintaining absolute secrecy and hoarding their work, they’re open about what they’re working on.”
It’s just so easy to share. That’s what I’m doing with this blog. And it’s surprised me how my posts have lead to new business that I did not expect.
A friend of mine went to a conference and he said it changed his life. I said, you must share it now. Publicly, openly. It can be a blog post, a podcast, a video recording. Each of us literally hold a complete recording studio, editing facility and broadcast unit within our smart phones. There is no excuse not to share.
This is one of the principles in my new book, The Culture Blueprint.
When I was managing Zappos Insights people would ask, “How can you guys spend so much time giving tours of your company and still focus on your own success?” But that’s exactly it – sharing keeps you accountable and call it spiritual, but what you give comes back around and Zappos’ loyal customers are proof.
We would give away culture books (for free) and still make money. You can still get one here. And we monetized the interest by selling corporate training on culture and service.
That’s why I’m giving away the audio version of my book.
Integration is having the resources to deal with stimuli. Integration is taking the parts of life that seem to run in different directions and connecting them so they fuel each other. Integration is my theme for 2105. More on that in future posts.
An innovation hack is an action that is “low input, high output.” That means it takes very little investment, but the gains are tremendous. I watch for the hacks of effective CEO’s and this one is shared by both the late Steve Jobs and Tony Hsieh.
Yes. That simple. They go for walks, a lot. Whether it’s for meetings or just taking time for themselves, they take long walks.
Research is proving the common sense idea that sitting for extensive periods of time is very unnatural. One even called sitting the smoking of our generation.
I took an hour long walk today, with a 3×5 card and a pen. At first I listened to an audiobook with headphones while I walked. Then I noticed I stopped listening to the book and started listening to my own ideas. I would walk for awhile, let the ideas simmer, then write them down and repeat the process.
Some might call it taking the time to listen to our own intuition. Others may say there’s a spiritual element to it all. Whatever it is, it works. Try it right now. It may be the cheapest most effective innovation tool.
NOTE: You’ll see I finally added a way to get updated on new posts. See the sign up bar in the upper right corner.