Until they believe they can, they can’t

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

An ADD Coach’s single most important task is
the facilitation of THE most essential client shift:

 from “Expectations of Failure”
TO “Expectations of SUCCESS”


Don’t you ever doubt it!

Everything else you do is secondary.  Throw your “tough love” in the garbage where it belongs.

As the coach, your most important shift is from
DOING “good coaching” to BEING a good coach.
It’s not about YOU, it’s about THEM!

Any ADD Coach worthy of the name must be prepared to move as slowly as they must to allow their ADDers to experience success — ENOUGH “evidence of success” to counteract years of “evidence of failure.”

That means baby steps to begin with, not “challenges.”

  • It makes no difference how little an ADD client accomplishes, or
  • How little they seem to be able to articulate their thoughts when you inadvertently
    shut down their pre-frontal cortex (each time you put them on the spot with one of
    those “powerful questions” of the flavor that most vanilla coaches have been trained to use) . . .
  • No matter how slowly they progress at the beginning, you must be prepared to move as slowly as you must for as long as you must for your ADD clients to amass enough experience of success to feel successful
  • ENOUGH “evidence of success” to counteract years of “evidence of failure.”

The name of the game

Any coach’s job the name of the game – with ANY type of client is to make sure those clients have what they need for ongoing accomplishment — NOT to insist that they do their homework, call on time, or stay on track without help.  

Those last tasks have a name in the coaching world: in order to’s.  Not good, right?

  • While follow-through and time management are important steps along the path to goals actuation, skills that can be – and need to be – acquired, those tasks are more than a simple a matter of motivation with ADD clients (“wanting to badly enough” or understanding the importance).
  • BELIEVE ME, they already know it’s important! They are frustrated beyond belief that they can’t “get it together.”
  • Coach “lectures” are considered inappropriate with ANY client, but with an ADD client, they’re deadly.
  • Unless you are a comprehensively trained, brain-based ADD COACH, you probably don’t even consider what you say “lecturing.”  (Your ADD clients, however, DO.  And it’s harmful – it shuts them down, whether you intend harm or not — don’t ask them, you won’t get the truth from most of them because they won’t want to hurt your feelings!)
  • Your ADD clients may NEVER be able to do the “stay on track to completion” dance without a bit of outside assistance: NOT because they don’t want to, but because the area of the brain in charge of focus and follow-through is part of what isn’t working well in the ADD BRAIN.
EF deficits DEFINE ADD!

ADDers need their coaches to help them compensate for kludgy executive functioning.
THAT’s why they hired you, whether either of you are aware of it consciously or not.blank line



A Coach’s job with any ADD Client is to:

a) provide focusing assistance during the session

b) to make sure their client knows how to get focusing assistance
once the coaching relationship ends

c) and to make sure their clients fully understand what will happen
if they don’t reach out for it   [ADD Coaching Hint: not much!]

Repeating the words imprinted on the graphic that began this article:

Lacking power impairs thinking

Writing in Psychological Science, Smith et. al. (2008) report that when randomly assigned participants are made to feel powerless they become worse at keeping on top of changing information, filtering out irrelevant stuff and planning ahead to get the task done.

If you’d like some one-on-one (or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this article (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), click the E-me link  <—here (or on the menubar at the top of every page) and I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Related Articles on THIS site
(will open in a new window/tab – close THAT window/tab to come back here)

Check out my article on Brain-based coaching on Dr. Charles Parker’s CorePsych blog
Coaching, out where the ADHD rubber meets the road of reality

Related articles around the web
(will open in new window/tab)

BY THE WAY: I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with Executive Functioning struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

3 Responses to Until they believe they can, they can’t

  1. Pingback: Getting up and Getting Going | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Pingback: If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t blame the foot! | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. Pingback: The Procrastination Puzzle & the ADD Brain-style | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

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