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Entrepreneurs Use ADD Symptoms Creatively
When teachers have kids with Attention Deficit Disorder in an elementary school classroom, they sometimes despair that the kids will ever "get it." A teacher will tell a student to do a task, and the student will come up with something completely unexpected. Upon reflection, the teacher might concede that the student did the task, but it wasn't what the teacher meant him to do. What the teacher got was the imaginative and creative version of what they asked for! The child might act impulsively, and rush to start a task. Once started on the task, the child with ADD might not want to stop, because they are focused on a task that they are interested in. They rush around the classroom, try to tell others about what they are doing, and generally don't act in the sedate way that many teachers expect. Those teachers worry about what the future could bring to such a lively kid who seems unable to follow simple directions. Would they feel better if they knew that the traits that make young kids difficult in classrooms can go a long way toward developing a successful business entrepreneur?
Kids with ADD can grow into adults who use their ADD traits to become productive entrepreneurs. Creativity and imagination can see possibilities where others see roadblocks. Sometimes, the ideas come to them in a flash of insight or an extended daydream. Life's little moments can also play a part. Paul Orfalea was a college student waiting in line to copy a document. He got the idea that he could make the copy experience better and cheaper. Kinkos was born from that insight.
Laser-like focus on problems that interest them is one of the benefits that folks with Attention Deficit Disorder have. They also persist where others might give up. David Neeleman is the founder of Jet Blue Airlines. He can take a large amount of disparate information and process it. Then, he can suss out the simple, yet effective, way to deal with the challenge that he was presented.
A recent study conducted for the Entrepreneurship Research Institute at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in a joint effort with Syracuse University and the University of Bath, and published in the Journal of Business Venturing Insights, looked for a link between Attention Deficit Disorder and entrepreneurship. The small study surveyed 14 people with a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder. They found that the entrepreneurs that they studied had several traits in common.
Traits that entrepreneurs had that they felt helped them in their careers included impulsivity. Subsets of impulsiveness were risk-taking, dealing with the unexpected, and making decisions quickly, even if those decisions used a lot of complicated information.
Hyperfocus let them work intensively on problems that interested them. This allowed them to find solutions to tough problems. It also allowed them to learn, in-depth, about subjects that they were passionate about. The expertise that they developed stood them in good stead when they ran their own businesses.
Folks with Attention Deficit Disorder often have a high level of energy. This energy is well-used in an entrepreneur's business, especially when it is a start-up or gearing up for a large change. People with ADD often have energy levels that can wax and wane multiple times as the day progresses. That being a part of the symptoms of ADD, it is easier to regulate the times when high-energy and low-energy tasks are accomplished when the entrepreneur is in charge of the work flow.
Teachers of youngsters with Attention Deficit Disorder can take comfort in this study by Professors Holger Patzelt, Johan Wiklund, and Dimo Dimov. It is important because these professors studied the relationship between ADD symptoms, which cause problems for young students, and the ways that entrepreneurs use the traits to build successful businesses using unorthodox methods. More studies need to be done to verify their findings. However, a quick read through the biographies of some of the world's most successful entrepreneurs would tend to bear out their study's findings.
Famous People With ADHD - 12 Real Life, Inspirational Stories Of How Your Child Can Overcome ADHD And Succeed In LIfe, Rory F. Stern, PsyD
Johan Wiklund, Holger Patzelt, Dimo Dimov. Entrepreneurship and psychological disorders: How ADHD can be productively harnessed. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 2016; 6: 14 DOI: 10.1016/j.jbvi.2016.07.001
Technical University of Munich (TUM). (2017, March 9). Harnessing ADHD for business success: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) promotes entrepreneurial skills. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 5, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170309132303.htm
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