A lot of this website talks about the challenges and consequences that many people with ADHD experience during their lifetime. Some of these (such as being imprisoned, or being fired from a job) might seem like things that could only happen to a ‘bad’ person in some way or another. This is absolutely not the case! So we want to emphasise that having ADHD is not a weakness or a failing, and definitely does not mean that someone is, or will be, a bad person. In fact, ADHD usually comes with lots of skills and character traits that other people would wish to have, and make them very ‘good’ people. In some situations, ADHD can be extremely useful, and when that happens it’s kind of a superpower.
People with ADHD are wired differently to most people which it means it can be hard to be like everyone else. But that’s only a problem in situations where the only option is to be like everyone else. There’s actually a lot of positive things about ADHD that make people with ADHD really special. For example, people with ADHD tend to be great problem-solvers. They enter a crisis that has everyone else stumped, panicking or defeated and can see a solution straight away. They are kind, warm and genuine people with a sense of humour. They have what Paul Wender called “relentless determination.” When they get hooked on a challenge they don’t stop trying new ways to approach it until they’ve mastered it, but will often lose interest entirely when it’s not a challenge any more.
What this means is that in some situations, people with ADHD can really struggle, but in other situations where people with ADHD can excel, they really stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately a lot of situations, like school, tax, employment regulations, and so on, involve rules that have not been made with the needs of someone with ADHD in mind, which can make functioning as an adult pretty difficult when you have ADHD. But if you can get into a situation where you get to make your own rules, people with ADHD often really thrive. For example, ADHD has been labelled as “the entrepreneur’s superpower”, because individuals with ADHD possess innate energy, grit, creativity, originality, insight and interpersonal skills, which are arguably some of the key ingredients of entrepreneurship.
People with ADHD are often also really good at supporting other people. They’re sympathetic, understand, rarely judge people and are quick to forgive (or maybe forget) because they’ve been stigmatised their whole life, been in a lot of sticky spots, and know how easy it is to do something without thinking or having any prior intention to do it. As John Haltiwanger has written, people with ADHD know that having a mental disorder does not mean that there is something wrong with a person.
“They understand that our brains are exceptionally powerful entities, and difficult to control at times. Indeed, people with ADHD are understanding, kind and caring because they know what it’s like to be ostracised for something that’s as natural as breathing. This kind of emotional intelligence is invaluable, in all walks of life.”
People with ADHD in all sorts of different skills / career paths who are famous for their success include:
- Michael Phelps, The Most Decorated Olympian Of All Time
- Simone Biles, already the most decorated American gymnast of all time, winning 19 Olympic and World Championship medals when she was only 19 years old.
- Justin Timberlake, Singer/Actor/Producer/Businessman
- Jim Carrey, Actor/Comedian/Producer
- Will Smith, Actor/Producer/Rapper
- Sir Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group)
- Ingvar Kamprad (founder of IKEA)
- …and so on
For more information about this, and original sources, take a look at:
- or to find out about more successful people with ADHD, just google ‘ADHD success’.