It all started during elementary school. I loathed reading. Could I read? Yes. Did I want to, or could I pay attention to the words on the page? Nope.
The counselor called my parents into school to say I had ADD. My parents shrugged off the advice and just assumed I needed help reading. They bought that ever-so-popular “Hooked on Phonics” and tried to work with me. I refused all help and was in lower-level Reading classes until middle school. I continued on to high school still in quite a daze, never completing my homework just getting by. My father, a funnyman himself, was amused with my senior year class clown label and he joined everyone’s lowered expectations of me. People thought I was intelligent, but that I lacked focus and wouldn’t be able to hold down a job.
I tried college for a few years, dropping out because I absolutely hated the required reading, writing of papers and attending classes on time. I then took paycheck-to-paycheck jobs as I tried to find my way through life.
I always knew I had ADD and I considered this horrid characteristic a burden, but as I got older I noticed a flip-side I could use to my benefit; hyperfocus. If you know somebody with ADD, or you yourself have it, you have probably noticed the times you or that person is so focused on something, you wonder if you/they had bottled up all their focus in life and spent it on that one thing. I like to refer to this as the “vortex.” The “vortex” pulls you in, and you don’t come out until you have successfully achieved whatever it is you had been working on. Also, you often wonder why that “vortex” couldn’t contain cleaning, chores, paying bills or completing the task you boss gave you two weeks ago.
For a long time, my “vortex” was crafting. I loved it, and I still make things and challenge myself to creating something out of nothing. Also, I’m great with numbers challenges. I started to wonder how I could incorporate these things into my career search. I worked odd jobs here and there, but if I could find something that held my attention, I realized I could have a shot at career success.
One day I answered an ad for a car sales position. My father said in a negative tone as I prepared for my job interview, “Nobody ever makes any money selling cars.” I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I ignored his caveat and went for it… two years later after seeing my success, he jokingly asked me if my car dealership was hiring.
This sales position at the car dealership made me realize the sales field was my career calling. With ADD, I love to talk (which would get me in trouble at most jobs) and now I get paid to talk. I also get to work with numbers and I’m making good money. Just 3.5 years into the sales field I was recruited to work as an account executive for a large staffing company and two months ago I closed the largest deal our company had in years.
Not to brag or boast, but I have a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house, I drive a new car, I went out of the country on vacation for the first time this past year and my annual income is more than both my parents make combined. I say this because I didn’t even believe I was capable of holding a job and I grew up believing I had been cursed with the burden of having ADD. I grew up with everyone in the room believing I couldn’t read and that I was the class clown that wouldn’t go anywhere in life.
I found my passion by flipping my “burden” into a “gift.” I was born with an ADD characteristic that not everyone has and I was able to make something of myself… and so can you.