(As also appears on LinkedIn)
Adults with ADHD can lead lives filled with accomplishment. With a skill set tailored to address particular needs or situations, career and life success can be achieved. Coaching can assist an individual with ADHD to learn new skills and overcome daily distractions and challenges.
Michael’s father, Pete, called me one January afternoon. He was distraught as he described how his youngest son, now 20 years old, had been kicked out of an Ivy League college for failing classes during his sophomore year. Pete was clear that he and his wife wanted Michael to return to the college and complete his degree. He let me know that Michael was currently enrolled in rigorous courses at the junior college close to their home where he needed to earn A’s and B’s even as his Ivy League school would not give him credit for the course work. Pete and his wife had placed Michael on a contract and these classes were just one part of what he needed and agreed to accomplish. Now, Pete was asking me to coach his son so that Michael could learn the necessary skills to earn his way back to the college he’d been asked to leave and succeed there once he did so.
“Does Michael want to return,” I asked? Pete assured me that he did. I set up a meeting with Michael and his parents and learned of this young man’s astonishing motivation to, indeed, return to the school. Despite the strict guidelines the college and his parents had established, Michael was never deterred. He had an honest desire to work with me in coaching and was open to learning all kinds of new ways of being and approaching his studies and other responsibilities.
I learned that Michael had been private school educated at a small K-12 school in Los Angeles where the teacher to student ratio was high. As such, even though he had been diagnosed with AD/HD during elementary school, he earned excellent grades in the small, attentive and structured school and with the consistent support of his family.
What happened to Michael at the Ivy League school is common. Being 18 years old and on his own 3,000 miles from home offered a bit too much freedom and too little structure for him to manage. Michael was easily swept into the familiar temptations of dorm and fraternity life. Amidst socializing and having fun, Michael quickly fell behind in his course work. He had no way to keep up or catch up with his studies on his own. He needed the attention, support and structure so available in his small school and at home. He needed others to remind him to take his AD/HD medication and of what he needed to accomplish each evening. Mostly, Michael needed to internalize the systems and structures he had relied on others to provide.
Michael returned to the college he had been asked to leave. Slowly, over time and with support Michael became adept at breaking all of his school and life responsibilities into small, concrete, achievable steps, documenting these on his calendar and following through with his plan. Michael learned to look ahead and to manage multiple tasks and deadlines simultaneously. He learned to say, “No,” to things that jeopardized his academic success and to socialize at particular times and in moderation.
After two summers and two academic years, Michael graduated from his Ivy League school. He presently works in the field he majored in and continues to mature in all aspects of his life.
Michael was and is open, honest, and fun. I was thrilled that he allowed me to coach him and help him succeed.