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I'm the CEO with ADHD and that's my biggest strength. Here's why.



Oh de SennaOh de Senna.The courtesy of O de Seena

  • Oeo De Senna is the founder and CEO of Spartan, the world's largest brand of obstacle and endurance. He is also the New York Times bestselling author of Spartan Up and Spartan Fit, and recently published his third book, The Spartan Road.
  • As someone with Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), De Senna thinks he is his greatest strength as an entrepreneur.
  • He says his ADHD has helped him make his dreams come true and he can't imagine living any other way. For him, the challenge is a new opportunity for success.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is, without a doubt, my biggest strength. That's the main reason I bounce off walls until I find something important to focus on.

The kid who "can't sit still", the guy who seems distant in conversation, the entrepreneur obsessed with one idea: I'm all of these things, but I don't see them as negative in the least.

My most obvious symptom: hyperfocus

What is ADHD? It is more complex than a child who cannot sit still. ADHD is a brain disorder marked by a persistent pattern of inattention and / or hyperactivity / impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.

Symptoms include neglected or missing details, inability to listen, organizational problems, forgetfulness and easy distraction. My most obvious symptom? Hyperfocus.

Frankly, I see this "symptom" as a domestic trait. Sure, my mind has a problem with sticking to one thing, but that means I'm not overwhelmed with irrelevant ideas or spend more than a minute feeling negative. My hyperfocus allows me to keep a close eye on things that move the needle every day. ADHD – and my hyperfocus – have helped me quit my Wall Street job to pursue my dream of taking 1 million people off the couch. As it turns out, evolution has helped me do that.

How the hyperfocus property develops

Take it from Tom Hartmann, author of "Edison Gene: ADHD and the Hunter's Gift".

Hartmann argues that, in crop-hunters, hunters needed more of a focus than collectors. He understands that ADHD's hyperfocus feature has provided a selective advantage in the past.

This may not make sense to you, because ADHD and "lack of focus" are usually considered negative. But think about it for a second. The hunter scanned the area, looking for something to focus on. Are you a hunter or collector? Who would you like to be?

I know I am a hunter and this gene intensifies my tendency to act on ideas I scan. My alleged "disorder" led me to create Spartan, the Spartan Wake Podcast and the Spartanx Leadership Forum.

When I'm hyper-focused on an idea, I do it great. I'm just thinking about what's really important, leaving behind all the irrelevant noise. So why would he see ADHD as a "weakness"? I can't imagine living any other way.

Why my ADHD is a blessing

Without the hyperfocus feature, I lack the creativity, spontaneity and fast-paced lifestyle needed for entrepreneurship. That's why I'm successful and that's why ADHD is my biggest strength.

I am a firm believer that we should all admire the things about our challenges that make us who we are. No, I can't sit too long, but that's why I'm good. No, I don't always think before I act, but that's why I am direct and honest with everyone I meet. No, I haven't learned as much as others in the traditional classroom environment, but that's why I have a huge determination to succeed.

My advice to you: Tell yourself that every challenge is an opportunity to succeed. Turn your fight into a triumph. Turn your "disorder" to advantage.

Now stop reading, log on to LinkedIn and tell me what "weakness" you are grateful for.


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