Working with top tech leaders as an ADHD coach, I will share some main insights that I have learned over the past years, highlighting the nuanced facets of support for startup leaders. Three crucial pillars—mental fortification through medication and coaching, physical resilience cultivated by exercise, and the structuring influence of intentional lifestyle routines—stand as beacons, offering indispensable guidance to empower CEOs with ADHD in their pursuit of success.
Pillar One: Strengthen the Mind
Navigating the intricacies of ADHD often feels like steering a race car with bicycle brakes—a constant dance between rapid thoughts and the challenge of slowing down.
Medication, ADHD education, coaching and therapy form a dynamic quartet that serves as our metaphorical motorcycle brakes, offering a means to decelerate and regain control. While these tools may not grant us car brakes, they provide the essential slowdown we need to navigate challenges and enhance our well-being.
Amidst this journey, it’s crucial to extend oneself loving kindness and grace, recognizing that ADHD is an integral part of our brain’s composition. Understanding our strengths and embracing them with love forms a significant aspect of this transformative process.
Pillar Two: Strengthen the Body
In the realm of ADHD, where the crux of the matter lies in brain chemistry, the significance of physical well-being takes center stage. Maintain a wholesome lifestyle becomes imperative, prioritizing a diet rich in vegetables and minimizing sugar and alcohol intake. Regular exercise and restorative sleep is key, as is engaging in mindful practices such as meditation. All of these contribute to what can aptly be described as brain food.
While these habits hold universal importance, for individuals with ADHD, their impact is particularly profound, serving as a cornerstone for navigating the challenges and maximizing cognitive potential.
Pillar Three: Adopt Lifestyle Habits and Routines
The key to establishing a supportive lifestyle revolves around what I like to call “anchors.” These are predefined responses to specific situations, essentially creating a plan for when a particular event occurs. If you find yourself grappling with a specific challenge, such as getting defensive, you formulate a mental rule: “When I get defensive, I will pause.” Without these anchors, challenging moments can trigger a mental flood, leaving you adrift in your own thoughts. With a designated anchor, you swiftly tether yourself to a specific train of thought, providing a stabilizing point amidst the mental whirlwind.
Another facet of this pillar involves implementing systems. Consider Steve Jobs’ habit of wearing the same clothes every day—a strategic choice aimed at reducing decision fatigue. Streamlining processes and reducing the mental load associated with organizational and planning tasks is paramount. Simple actions, like placing your car keys by the door, exemplify this approach. The objective is to minimize the cognitive fuel expended on executive functions, allowing for a more focused and efficient use of mental resources.
Lastly, the concept of “Fewer Steps” emphasizes finding ways to simplify tasks and decisions. For instance, those aiming to exercise in the morning might opt to sleep in their gym clothes—a small but impactful adjustment that eliminates an additional decision point. The goal is to streamline routines, allowing for a smoother flow of daily activities and conserving mental energy for more significant tasks.
About the Author:
Brett Greene is the award-winning Founder of the New Tech Northwest community of 60,000+ technologists. He is also an Executive Coach who has ADHD, a master’s degree in counseling psychology, and almost 20 years of experience coaching hundreds of startup and enterprise leaders to create fulfilling high-impact lives, companies, exits, and careers.