Transformational Rant

Solar Systems & Paradigms

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

Men may well be from Mars (and women from Venus), but ADDers and non-ADDers are from two different solar systems!!!

Like the futility of attempting to explain perfect pitch to a person who is tone deaf, conveying our experience of the world to another is hardly something they will ever be able to comprehend at levels much beyond conceptual — if that.

  • How could a person who is able to distinguish pitches perfectly
    ever really understand the hearing of the person who can’t?
  • And how can the person with average musical ability
    ever understand just how annoying that out-of tune piano is
    to the person who can hear every overtone?

One More Level

Let’s take this analogy further.  Would the person with perfect pitch leave it to the tone deaf person to supervise the tuning of the piano?  Of course not!  Nor would she expect her tone deaf partner to notice when the piano needed tuning — or to exclaim joyously when the piano had been tuned.

  • Our musical friend would not waste time and energy explaining repeatedly what to listen for to determine whether the piano needed tuning, or why it was important to her that the piano stay tuned.
  • Her tone deaf partner would not wonder secretly if perfect pitch were real or just an excuse used to justify the money spent on the piano tuner.

Neither would think there was something seriously wrong with the other or their relationship because they were not musically attuned, pardon the pun.

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More examples: similar logic

  • Their color-blind nephew is not expected to be able to match his socks by paying closer attention. He does not spend one minute of his day wondering if brown and green really do look different – or mourning the fact that he’ll never know for sure.

When he comes to the breakfast table with mismatched socks his parents are not surprised or frustrated, nor do they lecture him endlessly about taking responsibility for his wardrobe.

On those occasions when he gets lucky with his matching they don’t wonder if color-blindness is over-diagnosed, merely a convenient exuse for the undisciplined.

  • Nobody accuses his extremely nearsighted sister of self-sabotage or fear-of-success when she misplaces her glasses.  The whole family pitches in to help her find them.

They understand without explanation that fuzzy focus makes it impossible to locate the very item that would sharpen it, and that those with perfect vision can locate the glasses with very little effort.

AND they don’t huff and puff about her selfishness “expecting others to do everything for her” while they search.

  • Everybody knows that when Grandpa comes to visit it is especially important not to leave things lying around on the floor to trip him since the poor dear is loosing his sight altogether.

The fact that he doesn’t do a very good job cleaning up the kitchen after supper is completely overshadowed by delight in his willingness to be helpful and the real kick he gets out of remembering where everything is supposed to be put away.

And everyone rushes to help him up the dimly lit back stairs before he even thinks to ask for assistance.

So what’s so different about ADD?

Why do our non-ADD loved ones continue to be surprised every time our ADD distractibility shows up yet again, resulting in lateness, misplaced items, or failure to pay attention to something they consider important?

How come there is no instinct to help dig us out when the desk is piled so high with papers that we can’t function?

Why are ADDers repeatedly urged to take responsibility for doing things the right way – their way – with endless reminders that, since others can do it, we could too — if we’d just try a little harder, want to badly enough, and stop making excuses?

• Nobody expects that any way at all will allow a tone deaf person to sing any way but flat.

• Balding men aren’t accused of shaving their heads because everybody knows that baldness is just myth invented by men too lazy to comb.

• Farmers aren’t encouraged to consider how much better their credit would be if they’d stop wearing those overalls to the bank. Everyone understands innately that it’s just plain silly to expect farmers to maintain executive wardrobes and waste time changing clothes for the sake of appearances.


The individuals in the groups mentioned above are encouraged to focus on their strengths, not to spend precious energy trying to control things they can’t – or to make decisions that make no sense for them in some attempt to follow the party line towed by people who are not in their particular circumstance.

Why not US??

Why isn’t this kind of thinking extended to include ADDers?  I don’t know.  I don’t have any theories to propose in answer to any of those particular questions.

  • Oh, I could get on a soapbox about the irresponsibility of reporters going for ratings, producing stories so poorly researched or deliberately one-sided they’re practically yellow journalism  “Kids on drugs, live at eleven!”
  • I could reply to witch-hunting and name calling by using the same tools myself, going after a certain organization’s particular fixation on the “over diagnosis” of a set of symptoms that could, from their limited vantage point, be handled with enlightened parenting skills begun at conception and adherence to the particular flavor of morality taught by their “religion.”
  • I could fire another salvo at the unsung, overworked teachers and our under-funded educational system and levy the charge that they we are failing to educate our populace to reason.
  • I could certainly scream about the voting record of certain politicians who try to legislate people into towing the party line that supports their particular agenda, levying laws on the “lawless” that happen to result (only coincidentally I’m sure) in additional funds for their campaign.

Or I could blame the victim!

I could join the majority on the take responsibility band wagon:

  • It’s YOUR fault, you ADDer you, for failing to stick up for yourself: for failing to get as much ADD information as you possibly can and to force-feed it to anyone within the sound of your voice.
  • It’s YOUR fault because you don’t attend every CH.A.D.D. meeting within a 100-mile radius to experience the difference in your functioning when you surround yourselves with those who context your “shortcomings” as reasonable expectations for your particular flavor of a particular neuro-biological disorder, reminding you and yours that getting something done and doing something a specific way are two completely different things.
  • YOUR fault for failing to set boundaries that make it clear to your loved ones that you don’t consider their comments and attitudes particularly loving and won’t be in relationship with them at all if they don’t cease and desist immediately!


I don’t think any of those ideas would do much but add to the “make-wrong” that keeps us in adversarial positions with one another.

I don’t think that would open one single closed mind, most probably serving only  to make it even more tenacious about its cherished but unexamined and unresearched opinions — with a vengeance I can only imagine.

  • I don’t think it would inspire reporters and media personalities to think twice before featuring a story about, for example, the over-diagnosis of ADD despite research that demonstrates the exact opposite.  It certainly wouldn’t move them to become a force for education — part of the solution rather than a pipeline for misinformation.
  • I know it wouldn’t stop supposedly religious leaders from touting their [incongruently unloving] beliefs as the answer to everything from drug addiction to lack of resolve, sweeping ADD into a very widely cast net indeed.
  • It wouldn’t stop the turf wars between various ADD experts long enough allow them to consider how much more we could accomplish by working TOGETHER.
  • And it really wouldn’t help the 18-21 million ADDers in the US alone to come to a secure awareness that they are NOT Lazy, Stupid or Crazy, in the words of Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo; that what is going on with them is not a function of a failure of will but a neuro-bio-chemical phenomenon with psycho-social implications.

So what, then?

I’ve dedicated this particular phase of my life to expanding ADD awareness, not to pointing out areas where it is missing:  to be a voice for a community intent on creating “a world where everyone, everywhere, believes in their gut that they work exactly the way they are supposed to work and proceed powerfully and effortlessly from that premise to create magic!”

That includes, by the way, the very reporters, religious leaders, politicians, ADD experts and nagging loved ones mentioned in the examples above.

“Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own.
You may both be wrong
.”  ~~ Dandemis

There is a great deal of power in taking the stand that the expression of an individual’s world view is actually part and parcel of the very system that will propel us to a place where we are able to accept our own humanity and the humanity of others without reservation.

I’m thinking that if we all lived our lives that way, there would be no interest in forcing others to mold to our will.

We all have our particular note to play in this little symphony on this little planet.  The best we can do is to tell the truth to others and to listen to each other’s view of the universe believing each other when we say we can or cannot do something.

Riding the Horse in the Direction it’s Headed

MEANWHILE, you have your ADD or the ADD of your loved ones to deal with.  You must attempt to fit the square ADD peg into the round hole created by the “majority” out there (who think that their way is THE way rather than, merely, the way for them.)

  • All ADDers need to understand and accept the challenges and advantages of their particular flavor of ADD,
  • to learn to describe it to those who don’t understand why they sometimes do the things they do,
  • to self-advocate when others are unable to hear them
  • despite the insistence of those others that they are not interested in “excuses.”

Get on with the business of singing the song you came to sing.

I would like to suggest that it will be best accomplished by adopting the point of view that we all do “work exactly the way we are supposed to work,” and that we will be able to accomplish our objectives much more quickly and easily if we work with ourselves and our functioning.

So Who am I Talking to?

“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” ~~ Anatole France

The target of this particular rant is not any specific person, group or system of beliefs.  The target is arrogance masquerading as information.

It doesn’t serve us as a society to generalize, externalize and legalize closely held systems of belief, or to use our position, intellect, or personal visibility to attempt to substitute repeated exposure for reason.

We have each been given the answer.  Here’s the kicker: no two of us were given the same answer.

Upping the ante

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”
~Winston Churchill

My current crocodiles are individuals or groups who use shaming and “should“ing as a way of silencing voices or changing other’s behaviors and belief systems from a particular point of view:

  • that there is a right and proper way to approach this business of life that ALL should embrace, and that
  • anyone who thinks differently from the way they think is outside those particular morally correct norms and must be stopped.

Crocodiles often operate from a viewpoint that the end justifies the means.
The end, of course, is the end they agree with.

This is the thinking that allows people to embrace war and terrorism
as viable alternatives.

They have no choice, given how they’ve set up the game.

Silence Gives Consent

To my way of thinking, standing by quietly watching a crocodile eat seems as bad as feeding it, even though making a little noise might shift the big lizard’s attention with some rather unfortunate results!

Maybe, if we could make a pact to protect each other, we could each risk drawing them our way for a bit — taking turns distracting their attention long enough for all of us, together, to wear the buggers out.

What kind of world would we create if we all stood for the rights of every single person on the planet to live life according to his or her own talents, abilities and values?

I’ll start.

I support your right to be exactly who you are and to live your personal life in a way that honors your standards, whether or not you support mine.

Of course, my preference is that you will.

Are you game?

As always, if you want notification of new articles in this Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some coaching help (one-on-one,couples or group) with anything that came up while you were reading this article, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

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Other Transformational Rants


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 EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and 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 Transformational Rant

  1. Pingback: Tinkerbell Comments – scorn and disbelief | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

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

  3. Steve Benson says:

    One of those odd coincidences I notice is that you always seem to have the right thing to say when I need it the most. Not only is this article dead-on, but I am listening to a lot of Dr. Barkley’s lectures and they are sobering, to say the least. What you say here is in sync with him. Just from the tone of your writing I think your style of coaching would be a good fit for me.
    I hope you had a renewing vacation.
    All the best.
    Steve Benson


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