Sherlocking ADD Challenges

Investigating Winners

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part I of a 3-Part Article

I had always been determined to be a winner in this game called life, but I was struggling.

I worked as hard or harder than anyone else, I seemed to have more talents and abilities than many, and I got more than my share of lucky breaks.

But somehow there was always something that fell apart before I could reach that finish line called SUCCESS. Since I couldn’t predict it, I couldn’t prevent it.  It was driving me nuts!

I spent most of my thirties in therapy in an attempt to figure it out, to no avail. I tried on every diagnosis anybody threw at me (I wouldn’t wanna’ be resistant, right?).

None of them felt right.

I just knew there had to be something else.

  • Nope, not fear of failure or success.
  • Nope, not low self-esteem or self-sabotage.
  • No way I’m passive/aggressive or manic/depressive (now called BiPolar).
  • Well, sure I’m depressed – wouldn’t you be if your life kept falling apart no matter how hard you tried to keep it together?

On and on and on with the list that I’m sure anyone reading this article will find all too personally familiar: including anything and everything but the one thing that would make the difference in my life.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

When I was 38 years old – another lifetime, it seems now, over two decades later – I learned about Attention Deficit Disorder.  Finally! Now that I had a name for what was “wrong” with me, I wasn’t going to let a little thing like ADD stop me.

So what do I DO about it? 
I asked the doctor who agreed with my self-diagnosis. 

What do you MEAN, nobody knows how to treat ADDults?  


When the Going Get’s Tough,
The Tough Do RESEARCH!

At the time I was diagnosed, thanks to the DSM-II decision to place ADD in the Child Psychology section, most doctors and therapists labored under the false belief that ADD went away at puberty, even in cutting-edge New York City.

  • Uninformed, they certainly didn’t have a clue about what might help an adult who claimed to be struggling as the result of ADD.
  • Even worse, especially compared to what’s available today, there was little to read about ADD — and there was practically nothing about working with it.

I had to figure out how to drive my own brain pretty much by myself – and that led me to discover what was left out of all of those self-help books I devoured on my way to diagnosis that explained why their tips and tricks didn’t work for ME.

What WAS left out?

It was so obvious I couldn’t believe I had missed it to begin with.

  • Golf pros use a variety of different clubs to make the same shot
  • One diet never works for everyone.
  • One size never fits anyone very well
  • You can’t please all of the people ALL of the time

Duh!  We are each unique.  Our desires are different, are abilities are different, our talents are different, our bodies are different, and  our brains are different.  

There had to be some way of quantifying individual brain differences so that it was possible to figure out what each individual had to do to win.

  • But there really wasn’t.
  • So I began to study winners, hoping to develop that way . . .
    some way, ANY way of figuring out, at least, what I personally needed to do to win.

What I Learned about Winners



I began by looking at an area where winning and losing were more than concepts: sports.

Whether football or baseball or tennis or golf, winners don’t win simply because they want to win or expect to win, or even because they decide to win!

Preparation and effort are vital – but even that isn’t enough to turn the average Joe into a winner.

  • Professional athletes train differently to play the same sport,
    no matter what sport they play.
  • Individual athletes must start from where they are:
    they must compete with the bodies they were born with.

Professional coaches have to understand the strengths and limitations of each athlete’s body to be able to turn them into winners.

Individual differences mandate different approaches.

They need to build on strengths, overcome bad habits, and strengthen only those areas that are holding them back.

Yet, just as wanting to do so won’t necessarily make it so . . .

  • Effort and action do not guarantee success.
  • Effort and action only contribute to success
    if they are designed specifically for the task at hand.

Not by Accident

Sports enthusiasts never become successful professional athletes by chance.

  • They need to know what they need to do to build on strengths,
    overcome bad habits, and strengthen task-appropriate weaknesses.
  • They need to understand what they are doing well already, where
    they are missing the mark, and where they are wasting their efforts.
  • They need repetition and practice to replace old habits with new ones.
  • They need feedback to keep them on track just as surely as dancers need
    mirrors when they are working on placement.

Motivating a Winner

All good coaches know that success is a result of motivation, but they are equally aware that motivation is built on success.

Yes, with faith all things are possible but few of us are so strong in faith
. . . that we can continue to believe despite all evidence to the contrary.

A little evidence of success goes a long way.

Evidence of failure goes a long way too — in the wrong direction.

Playing to WIN after practicing failure?

success-and-failure-signIf their coaches fail to consider each athletes’ current level of performance, they will design drills that take more than their players have to give.  

The result?  More evidence of failure;
more movement in the wrong direction.

When athletes leave practice feeling like failures, that is exactly what they will demonstrate on the field.

Each workout needs to push the limits, but each needs to have within it the possibility of success – to challenge each athlete without breaking them.

BUT, there is more to it than practice alone.

Many objectives can be obtained through strengthening performance in areas that CAN be improved with practice.

Some things, however, must be accepted, worked with, and worked around.

  • Strategy wins as many games as player talent
  • Effective strategy always takes the players into account – as they are,
    not as they would be if everybody believed hard enough.

Why wouldn’t that be just as valid for success in any endeavor? 

And why wouldn’t differences in the brain be as important as any other physical difference?

NOW I was on to something!

After several years of ADD research and many many hundred of hours talking to other ADDers about the struggles and oopses we all had in common, I was ready to set design a way to identify items and activities that kept most of us from the ongoing accomplishments that led to the successes we ALL deserve.

Click Here for Part II – The Design of the Challenges Inventory™

The above text is excerpted fromThe Challenges Inventory™
the second of the twelve eBooks in the upcoming
Optimal Functioning eBook Series™
2000, 2006, 2011 Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, ALL rights reserved

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!)

Related articles right here on

Articles about The Challenges Inventory™

Articles about The Challenges
with links to more at the bottom of each

  1. ABOUT Distractions
  2. ABOUT Hyperactivity
  3. About ADD & Stress
  4. BOGGLE – when Moods come out of nowhere
  5. ABOUT Impulsivity
  6. ADD/ADHD and Time – will ANYTHING work?
  7. Trouble with Transitions
  8. ABOUT Black & White Thinking
  9. ADD & Organized?

A Few LinkLists by Category (to articles here on

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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