NINE Challenges to Effective Functioning

From The ADD Lens™

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part 2 of a 3-part article
Designing The Challenges Inventory™
(click HERE to read Part I)

It’s NOT a Secret

It is a misunderstanding of how it all works to believe that “thinking positively” is ALL you have to do to attract the success you deserve.

  • Faith without appropriate action is sallow.  
  • Appropriate action is YOU-based, what you must do to manifest your dreams.
  • The genesis of creation comes from Spirit, BUT 
  • Here on the physical plane, we are equally bound by the laws of the physical.
  • Were it not so, we would not find ourselves walking on firmament in a body equipped with a brain.

The more you understand how your physical apparatus is designed,
the better you will be able to actuate your desires on the physical plane.

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Hover before clicking for more info

When a particular Challenge surprises us, our functioning suffers. 

It seems as if we are boogying on down the road, doing fairly well, until we suddenly step into a hole we didn’t expect.

From the depths of the hole, our our inner dialogue echoes persistently.
It almost always include something on the order of, “WHEN am I going to learn?”

  • That’s not really a question – it’s an indictment with a question mark at the end. 
  • It usually means something like, “You are NEVER going to get it right until you pull yourself together and stop this nonsense!”
  • Only once we have the answers to authentic questions are we able to build “firewalls” around reasonably accurate predictions, eliminating the surprise factor that always sends us tumbling into one hole after another.
  • Only once we stop falling into the holes in the road can we expect to reach the finish line – SUCCESS!

Rounding up the Usual Suspects

UsualSuspectsAfter several years of ADD research and many many hundreds of hours talking to other individuals with Executive Functioning issues about the struggles and oopses we all had in common, I set out to design a way to identify items and activities that kept most of us from ongoing accomplishment.

I noticed that our many of our difficulties were not exactly the same stoppers reported by all those people who wanted to tell us what to do to be successful.

Solutions of the Success Mongers

Success Mongers?  Uh-huh — the ones who write the books and run those Motivational Seminars on all those areas of life where most human beings could use a little help.

  • Success Monger solutions didn’t seem to work very well for US.
  • Even when their stoppers were similar enough to those we experienced, their highly touted motivators, work-arounds and fixes seemed to boomerang when WE tried them.  And we DID try – really!

I observed that our stoppers almost always clustered in nine specific areas — challenges to effective functioning for others, perhaps, but sometimes COMPLETE STOPPERS for us:

         1.  Attentional/Focusing Issues
         2.  Physical & Mental Hyperactivity
         3.  Low Stress Tolerance
         4.  Mood Swings
         5.  Impulsivity
         6.  Time Management Difficulties
         7.  Troubles with Transitions
         8.  Perfectionism and Black & White Thinking
         9.  Poor Organization/Task Completion Breakdowns

NOT just for ADD

Most of The Challenges I identified are problematic to some degree in most adults, but ALL of them turned out to be problematic to a much greater degree in most ADDults.  That came as no surprise, since the genesis of the design was a group of the most overt functional challenges accompanying an ADD diagnosis.

The Challenges were challenging for very good brain–based reasons.

Designing an Inventory

I came up with a variety of statements that could be rated, scored and evaluated to help me gather comparative information.

The statements uncovered information about the individual’s premises and behavior in areas impacted by one of nine different Challenges, the mastery of which would be useful to ADDer and non-ADDer alike.

  • Evaluation of the statements by category indicated which Challenges needed the most focus.
  • Evaluating the total picture provided by the scores in combination gave us a way to identify stoppers before we ended up falling in the holes in the road.

The statements were designed to call attention to an individual’s cognitive strengths and challenges, both psychologically and neurologically. 

  • Each statement could be assigned a rating between one and ten, resulting in Individual Challenges Scores that totaled from 15 to 150.
  • An individual’s highest scores identified areas where the individual is least reliable, the Challenges that usually cause the most trouble.
  • The lowest scores identified areas where the individual is most reliable,  The Challenges generally causing the least trouble.

Sherlocking the Lowest Scores

Sherlock_smallEvery individual has already developed fairly effective systems and coping strategies to work around at least one of their Challenges, which is why the area seems less troubling.

I discovered that most of my clients developed the core building blocks of their coping strategies at a young enough age they couldn’t really remember what they did – just as most of us can’t remember the process of learning our first language.

Most of them weren’t aware that they were doing anything to cope at all.  Many insisted that Challenge never was a problem – that it was an area that was naturally easier than the others.

If it isn’t a problem, why look at it?

My original thinking was that, by examining the area of the lowest score, we could make unconscious coping strategies conscious.  Once we became aware of the individual elements of the strategies, we could take them apart and apply the general principles to the areas that were considerably challenging — which would, logically, begin to be seen in a reduction in the highest scores.

Whenever otherwise successful coping strategies and systems didn’t work in a new area, a relatively straightforward approach would be to figure out where it fell apart, and determine what to do instead.

Moving along from Challenge to Challenge, using what worked in one area to examine another, tweaking and systematizing what we found, it seemed logical that it would finally be possible for all clients to demonstrate intentionality.

If only life were that simple!

While my original approach was almost always effective to begin with, each client hit the wall at some point short of the success to which they were committed.

  • I  discovered relatively quickly that each client was unique in the particular combination of predicaments that tripped them up.
  • Each of those who had trouble with time, for example, experienced it from different vantage points.  They needed to deal with in different ways, based on the relative strength and weakness of their other Challenges.
  • Right after that, I began to understand that it was not only the combination of Challenges, but the degree to which they are troubling relative to each other that trips us up.

That was also what has always made it so frustrating for us to follow the tips and tricks of most of the people trying to help us sort things out.

Working from a Baseline

Plotting the scores on a graph, above or below the individuals average score – their Baseline Functioning – gave us a picture that made sense of their functional ups and downs.  It created a visual representation of comparative functioning in the nine key areas, above or below the “average” functioning that everyone expected from them.

The particular relationship between the scores distinguished a pattern – a Challenges Profile™– indicating how much trouble a client’s specific Challenges were, relative to each other, as well as relative to their Baseline.

The principle that makes The Challenges Inventory™ most useful is simply this:
behavioral inconsistencies create bigger problems than behaviors. 


I observed that the individuals whose scores clustered near their Baseline were having an easier time with life.

  • Oddly, this appeared to be so whether a client’s baseline score was high, medium or low.
  • I also saw that the greater the distance between a client’s lowest and highest scores – their Swing – the more trouble they seemed to  have and the more trouble they seemed to get into – time after time.

Uneven functioning was a greater problem overall than either baseline functioning or the effectiveness of an individual’s efforts in any one area.

And do you know why?
Lack of congruency with expectations.
(Click HERE to read more about Expectations Mismatches)

CLICK HERE for a blow-by-blow description of the Nine Challenges themselves

The above text is excerpted from The Challenges Inventory™
in the upcoming Optimal Functioning eBook Series™
2000, 2006, 2011-2013 Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, ALL rights reserved


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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.

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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!"

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