Cameron Gott, PCC
ADHD Coaching for Leaders & Professionals


The Global Creative Blog

Closing The ADHD Awareness Gap


One of the more insidious traits of ADHD is how it can shield Global Creative leaders from new awareness and new learning. This ADHD 'Awareness Gap' dampens our ability to move through stages of competence which are necessary for any real skill mastery to develop and effective change to take place. The gap is likened to the classic state of  - You don't know what you don't know. The gap can impact the Global Creative's ability to effectively lead. ADHD can make Global Creatives unaware, disengaged and incomplete. Nowhere is it more challenging than in gathering accurate information and building solid awareness practices. Leading effectively is dependent on gathering credible information in a timely fashion. Forest firefighting leaders pay close attention to the characteristics of a fire and move their people and resources accordingly. Any delay in relaying and receiving information could spell disaster for a wildfire-fighting team on the ground. Global Creatives fighting their own metaphorical fires at work can be so consumed by the shear labor of the task or be so fully engaged (hyper-focused) that they are not aware of other hotspots as they flare up. The Global Creative leader can feel like a hero battling the flames of one crisis but to those on the outside looking in, the heroics can be perceived as irresponsible and/or lacking imagination and strategic leadership.

To develop better awareness and close the ADHD awareness gap it is helpful to study the characteristics of a change model. Real and meaningful change can only happen if you can identify a need for change. The AEC Model for Change (see below) illustrates this process well. A need for change is always born out of new awareness from a learning opportunity. No new learning results in no awareness of a need for change and thus no new engagement. ADHD disrupts the ability of Global Creatives to move around this cycle from awareness to engagement and back. Challenges with transitioning can be the culprit here. ADHD has us stay in awareness too long or engagement too long.

AEC Model for change

AEC Model for change

Take heart, friend! All is not lost. When we turn our attention to this change cycle we become naturally curious about the process. With curiosity comes creativity. Leaders have the advantage of their resources - people and systems to help facilitate movement through this cycle. Even if you are a 'leader of one' you can benefit from these suggestions and begin to close the gap.

  • ADHD limits access to the present moment. Mini mindful practices can be a starting place to notice the present and where you are on the AEC cycle. Pay attention to forces that are inhibiting movement from one stage to the next. Instead of bringing frustration, bring curiosity and collective attention to the problem. Focus on creating a bank of new awareness from what you learn. The AEC Coaching Pyramid Model, a variation of the change model, places awareness at the foundation level that engagement and completion are built upon.

  • Etch out a presence practice - start the day with a mindful practice and get clear on the top three priorities for the day and a definition of completion for each. Completion does not mean finishing. Completion is just finding a place to put the project down illustrated in Melons and Landings.

  • Commit to three, 30-minute engagement periods a day on these 3 priorities using a tool like Pomodoro.

  • Acknowledge the need for transition time to ramp down from one activity and ramp up to the next. ADHD makes us blind to the ramps in our day.

  • If you have the resources, appoint a czar to notice the change process at work in your workspace. This is not a taskmaster. It is someone to help facilitate building useful awareness to be folded into better work practices.

  • Stop leading by fire fighting. Your people will follow you where you go. Nothing kills strategic advantage like a whole work force working in crisis mode. Humans are wired to follow by modeling and cueing - both good and bad work practices. Model and cue from inspiration and vision rather than adrenaline and urgency.

See awareness as a valuable commodity and that everything you want—better habits, better mastery of time—comes from better awareness in the moment. Give attention and time to this and you will begin to close the ADHD Awareness Gap.