A look at the Link between ADHD and Creativity in EntrepreneursMay 26, 2022
There is a link between ADHD and creativity. If you identify as an ADHD entrepreneur, you may experience challenges in your daily life but could also find that you have an edge in the business world because of some ADHD symptoms. People with ADHD are often able to think outside the box and come up with innovative ideas that other people may not have thought of.
In this blog post, we will define common ADHD challenges, explore the link between ADHD and creativity, and discuss how ADHD entrepreneurs can use their unique abilities to succeed in business. Further, we will provide a range of tools and strategies to help entrepreneurs with ADHD like yourself, to help you get the most out of your unique strengths.
What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neuro-developmental disorder that is characterized by difficulties with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. ADHD can affect people of all ages, but it is most commonly diagnosed in children. More recently however, ADHD has become commonly diagnosed in adults.
ADHD symptoms can interfere with a person's ability to function at home, school, or work. Often, ADHD presents much differently in adults compared to children. ADHD in adults often shows up as neglecting daily responsibilities and difficulty performing work-related tasks. This can make it difficult to lead a successful life.
Common ADHD challenges that make success difficult
There are a number of reasons why adults with ADHD tend to find routine tasks more difficult.. The ADHD brain can have a hard time completing monotonous tasks. The reason for this is due to the lack of reward that is associated with these tasks.
Easily bored and distracted
As research shows, people with ADHD are often easily bored, easily distracted and require greater environmental stimulation to stay engaged. This can lead to problems at work or school. ADHD entrepreneurs often have brilliant ideas, but may struggle to implement them due to continually shifting attention (Malkovsky et al., 2012). This can often lead to ADHD entrepreneurs feeling like they are not reaching their full potential.
Hyper focus difficulties
Further, the tendency to hyper focus can also make it difficult for people with ADHD to complete multiple tasks in a work setting. ADHD entrepreneurs may be so focused on one task that they neglect other tasks that need to be completed. This can often lead to ADHD entrepreneurs feeling overwhelmed and stressed. While these challenges can have negative consequences, they can also help fuel entrepreneurial passion.
Executive function challenges
ADHD challenges often include difficulties with executive function. Executive function is the ability to plan, focus, and regulate emotions. ADHD can make it difficult to complete routine tasks and stay organized. This may lead to feelings of frustration and overwhelm. The difficulty in completing routine tasks and staying disciplined can make it difficult to maintain success and stay on track with work-related duties. These symptoms can result in people with ADHD needing to have high level of planning and organisation skills to be able to attend to many tasks required to be successful (Wismans et al., 2020).
Common ADHD symptoms that relate to creativity
There are a range of ADHD traits that are an advantage for successful entrepreneurs. The same traits that are often seen as a distraction, are helpful in creative contexts. For example, the inability to stay focused often means that people with ADHD are continually scanning for new opportunities and ventures. This can be really helpful when developing and applying creative solutions towards achieving business success.
People with ADHD seem to have high energy. As a result, your mind might be more lively and creative which is an advantage for people with ADHD. The lively mind is always looking to find innovative ways to tackle challenges and find new solutions.
Dr. Johan Wiklund, a professor of entrepreneurship at Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management has come across extensive literature explaining the disadvantages of having ADHD traits. These including missing important details, restlessness, and trouble following orders or instructions. However, he also came across other literature identifying there are some unique advantages for ADHD entrepreneurs. These advantages highlighted below.
Why people with ADHD tend to be more successful as entrepreneurs?
Some ADHD symptoms can give entrepreneurs with ADHD an advantage in the business world. For example, people with ADHD are often able to think outside the box. This is due to the creative tendencies of people with ADHD, which can be helpful when it comes to entrepreneurship as it allows for new and innovative ideas to flourish.
Success stories with ADHD
Some of the greatest success stories in business took a leap based on what they saw in the marketplace at a particular moment in time. Rejecting solutions that seemed "normal", they instead trusted their instincts and forged ahead with something new and unproven while their more risk-averse peers shook their heads and insisted it would never work. Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, Virgin boss Richard Branson, and Jetblue Founder David Neeleman have all been in the news frequently due to their ADHD, with some considering the condition to be advantageous to their success.
ADHD symptoms that are well suited to business success
Some ADHD traits such as taking risks are particularly advantageous for entrepreneurs. Risk taking is beneficial for entrepreneurs because it allows them to take chances on new ideas and venture into uncharted territory ADDitude Magazine, 2020).
Further to this, sensation seeking is a particular characteristic that is advantageous in the business world as it often relates to a continued ambition and drive towards reaching greater success. This drive often relates to many activities which help generate new business.
Easily bored with Routine
Further, a common ADHD trait is being easily bored with routine and maintaining the status quo. Being easily bored with routine means that entrepreneurs with ADHD are likely to embrace the change required to reach new heights of success. For example, researchers interviewed an entrepreneur that was in the education industry who had introduced 250 new products in just a few years (Anderson, Covin, & Slevin, 2009). This signifying the success that accompanies the continual drive towards changing and improving products and services.
People with ADHD often thrive in times of crises. This may be due to the ability to switch attention rapidly and respond to difficult situations as they arise and perhaps the ability to shift attention towards managing multiple risks on a daily basis.
Acting on Impulses
Often due to acting on impulse and gut instincts, entrepreneurs with ADHD are able to seize new opportunities a lot quicker than other entrepreneurs. As the ADHD brain naturally searches and scans for a lot of information, there is an opportunity to pick up on business opportunities. Further, a range of research reveals a positive relationship between ADHD and various personality traits that are advantageous in the business world (e.g. Zhao et al., 2010).
How people with ADHD can thrive in your own business?
If you have entrepreneurial intentions and have ADHD, you may have an advantage over your more risk averse peers. There are many aspects of having ADHD, that can help your entrepreneurial performance. In fact, research suggests that there are positive associations between entrepreneur capacity and ADHD traits. ADHD entrepreneurs often have an edge in the business world because of their ADHD symptoms (Verheul et al., 2015). They are able to think outside the box and come up with innovative ideas
As an entrepreneur with ADHD, there are a range of strategies and ways that you can maximise your business development and success. It is important to manage some of the difficult traits of ADHD, while also benefiting from having the unique characteristics that can be advantageous. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have found the following strategies helpful.
Helpful strategies for entrepreneurs with ADHD
- ADHD coach: Many entrepreneurs with ADHD find that it is helpful to have an ADHD coach. This can help you to understand how to use your ADHD symptoms in a positive way and develop strategies for managing the negative aspects of ADHD.
- Be aware of your triggers: As someone with ADHD, it is important to be aware of the challenges that trigger you in a complex work environment. These can include time pressure, multitasking and working on boring tasks. Once you are aware of your triggers, you can develop strategies to manage them.
- Set structure: Entrepreneurs with ADHD often benefit from having a set structure in their work day. This can help to minimise distractions and provide a sense of calm in a hectic environment.
- Set your own hours: One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is that you are your own boss and can set your own hours. This can be especially beneficial for entrepreneurs with ADHD, as it allows you to manage your time and work in a way that suits you.
- Be clear about your entrepreneurial intention: When starting your own business, it is important to be clear about your entrepreneurial intention. This can help to focus your ADHD brain and ensure that you are working towards a specific goal.
ADHD Ambition is an online course which helps entrepreneurs to become successful in their business pursuits. The course is designed to help entrepreneurs with ADHD to implement the habits and systems to reach your dream goals and ultimate success. ADHD Ambition is the perfect course for entrepreneurs with ADHD who want to thrive in their business. The course provides helpful strategies to succeed.
People with ADHD come from many walks of life. By understanding the link between ADHD and creativity, entrepreneurs can learn how to harness their ADHD symptoms in a positive way to benefit their business. While there are challenges for people with ADHD in the workplace, there also presents an opportunity to tap into the unique abilities and overcome these challenges. By doing this, it is very possible for entrepreneurs with ADHD to thrive in their businesses. It is necessary to employ a range of strategies to fine-tune the unique creative qualities of ADHD, into entrepreneurial success.
ADDitude Magazine Editors, (April 17, 2020).The Benefits of ADHD in a Crisis: Hyperfocus, Creativity, Resilience & More. https://www.additudemag.com/benefits-of-adhd-crisis/.
Anderson, B.S., Covin, J.G., & Slevin, D.P. (2009). Understanding the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and strategic learning: An empirical investigation. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 3(3), 218–240.
Malkovsky, E., Merrifield, C., Goldberg, Y. et al. Exploring the relationship between boredom and sustained attention. Exp Brain Res 221, 59–67 (2012)
Verheul, I., Block, J., Burmeister-Lamp, K. et al. ADHD-like behavior and entrepreneurial intentions. Small Bus Econ 45, 85–101 (2015).
Wismans, A., Thurik, R., Verheul, I., Torrès, O. and Kamei, K. (2020), Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms and Entrepreneurial Orientation: A Replication Note. Applied Psychology, 69: 1093-1112.
Zhao, H., Seibert, S. E., & Lumpkin, G. T. (2010). The relationship of personality to entrepreneurial intentions and performance: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Management, 36(2), 381–404.
Shannon Bowman is the director of SJB Clinical Consulting Pty Ltd
And Director of Create Balance Psychotherapy & Counselling VIEW HERE.
Shannon has a clinical interest in treating trauma, PTSD and ADHD.
He has a lived experience of ADHD and is a passionate advocate for those affected by it.
He is accredited as a Mental Health Social Worker AMHSW,
psychotherapist and registered EMDR practitioner. Associations below.
Australian Association of Social Workers
EMDR Association of Australia.
Psychology Today Profile
Daniel Van der Pluym is a Psychotherapist Coach
Founder of Deeper Potential and Part Founder of ADHD Ambition Daniel specialises in Mindfulness as a way of helping improve executive functioning to help people stay on track with their goals.
He has a lived experience of challenges with focusing, inattention and task management and is passionate about helping those who experience similar challenges.
He is an Associate Member of the Australian Psychological Society and Member of Meditation Australia
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