Friday, March 25, 2011

ADHD and Ideas

Previously we had some discussions about ADHD and medication, and now I want to suggest another consequence of ADHD: being great at coming up with new ideas.

Creating New Ideas
Today I received an email from a friend in my Danish Philosophy Network. We regularly meet to discuss this blog's related topics. In the email he asked me for a topic idea for our next meeting. I hadn't thought about it, but I easily came up with five topics without missing a beat. This was what he expected because he also wrote, "or do you have a whole list of topics?"

Whenever I talk with the mom running the autism program that I volunteer in, I am often in awe of all she has been doing in the playroom since the week before. And yet, as we talk after my sessions, she always has three new ideas of things to try in the next week. She's never at a loss for ideas.

Creative Meditation
This skill is very useful when teaching meditation. Many people have challenges when they are asked to meditate at home, but when they tell me about their experiences I can usually help them with ideas of how it might work for them: ideas ranging from listening to music, to meditating two minutes before driving, to doing active meditation while swimming, to meditating while peeling potatoes. I always have more than enough new ideas to help people.

From time to time, one of my friends will call me with a problem saying, "I have no idea of what to do!"

In this case, she means that she can't think of anything to do.

I'm never at a loss for ideas of what to do. If I do say, "I don't know what to do", it's because I don't know which idea to pursue, or I want some help implementing my ideas, or I'm just becoming impatient.

I've never thought about how I create new ideas. I've never experienced an issue where I have had absolutely no ideas. I do have times where I judge my ideas as "too difficult" or "not likely to work." But, I always have ideas.

Input Delivery Machine
When people ask me for input, I am often surprised by how much knowledge I have on what seemed to be an unknown topic to me.

I was invited to attend a meeting at work tomorrow, because even though it is not directly related to my daily job, it seems that no one else poses as many helpful questions in meetings as I do. I get invited to all kinds of planning meetings to help with creative ideas, everything from workshops to children’s birthday parties.

How do I do this? First I just start talking, mentioning everything that comes to mind. Then I ask what ideas resonate with others and what ideas don't. We continue from there.

When people ask for input it is often as if the thoughts in my mind fight to see who gets to come out first. I really don't understand how people can sit in a meeting being asked for input and have nothing to say.

Responding to Ideas
Some people are great idea supporters; if you bring up an idea, they'll jump in with a thousand reasons why it is a great idea. I could do that, but I would struggle with all the reasons why it would not be a good idea or why other ideas should also be considered. I have lots of ideas about ideas.

When people present an idea to me, I actually don't always know what to do. I'll usually ask them.

Sometimes people will present an idea to get my input on whether or not it will work. Other times they present an idea they've already decided to go through with.

It's much easier for me when people want me to help them to create ideas than if they want my input on existing ideas (especially ones they've already decided to pursue.)

What About You?
I believe I may handle ideas differently than most people. So I'd like to ask you:
  • Do ideas come easily for you or do you struggle with ideas?
  • What are times when ideas come easily and what are times when ideas come with difficulty?
  • How do you respond to new ideas? To your own? To those of others?
  • How do you normally react when you are asked for input?
  • Do you jump in and build on them or do you look for what might be wrong or missing?

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