Last week on the podcast we talked about neurodiversity and leadership. This week we are honing specifically into ADHD and learning from ADHD, coach Cindy baker.
Cindy works with high performing professionals who have ADHD, so she's helping us first understand what ADHD looks like for a high achiever.
She also gives us some good tactical tips on improving productivity and keeping a growth mindset.
Enjoy the episode!
Connect with Cindy:
Join the Chaos to Control challenge to get more done with less stress.
Instagram @CBC_cindybakercoaching. DM the word TIPS to get a free download of Cindy's Ultimate 15 Ways for Being Focused and Productive at Work.
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Learn more about Cindy's group coaching program by booking a free consultation
Cindy: ADHD manifests very differently in girls and, and women than it does this stereotypical boy that gets in trouble. You know for girls, we may be the, the quiet one who's over in the corner, daydreaming or doodling , looking out the window.
So because we're not causing trouble. We, we get overlooked. And so being smart can actually mask the symptoms of ADHD. But besides being able to do well in school, high achievers that have ADHD. Usually have very unique sometimes very specialized talents and interests and they've built their life's work around those interests.
Liz: Well hey there, I'm Liz St. Jean and this is unruly leadership podcast where I help subject matter experts like you design a career on your terms. It's where strategy meets intuition to help you break the rules, ignore the rules and make your own damn rules. So let's break free from perfectionism, imposter thoughts, and that inner rule keeper, that's keeping you in your career comfort zone.
It's time to become unapologetically you and step into the life you were meant to live. We're going to talk presence, productivity career, and having it all. Or as my four-year-old would say - we're going to take over the world. So let's get to it.
So hello everyone. And welcome back today. We are going to be learning from ADHD, coach Cindy baker. Now Cindy helps high performing professionals with ADHD.
She helps them leverage their unique traits as their superpowers. So they can become positive, prepared, and productive in their careers in life and at home now with the master's in counseling and over 17 years, as an educator, Cindy shares with others, how ADHD with her, for herself, how she went from chaos and overwhelm to being in control of her mindset, clutter, time management and productivity. So welcome, Cindy. It's so wonderful to have you here on the podcast. And we just finished up a short series last week about neurodiversity and leadership. So I'm thrilled to follow up with a conversation specifically about ADHD. Let's kick things right off with an intro from you. Tell our listeners a bit more about your story and how you help people.
Cindy: Hi, Liz. It's great to be here. Thank you for having me. So I've been a school counselor and teacher for over 17 years, and I have worked with a lot of students and parents that have ADHD after recognizing those symptoms in myself. I was diagnosed as an adult with ADHD and it helped me put the pieces together and make sense of things in my life.
So I read a lot and tried all the things to try to manage my time and try to get organized. But the typical time management gurus and these workshops and things that I tried, they just didn't work for me. And that only made me feel worse about myself. So it really wasn't until I started to work with the unique ADHD brain wiring that I had instead of trying to fight against it, that I experienced success. So I put together a framework called the three P power plan and it helps people go from chaos and overwhelmed to feeling in control of their life. feeling in control of their destiny, the three P stand for positive prepared and productive. So I help people with mindset, clutter, time management, organization productivity, things like that.
Liz: Okay. So let's get into things. Now, my listeners are high achievers and they've had a lot of success in school and in their careers. And they may not always been at the top of the class, but they're all usually have done fairly well for themselves and especially into their careers. And at the same time, many of them have told me that they're ADHD or neurodiverse in other ways, but it kind of makes this weird mix up in our brains because we have this social story that people with ADHD, you know, they get in trouble in school. They can't sit still. Then they have a hard time holding down a job, and then they just generally struggle with life. So can you help us understand and explain that paradox of someone who has ADHD and make probably undiagnosed ADHD in school and they, they still do well. Like they're doing well in school. They're doing well in their careers. Can you help us understand that?
Cindy: Yeah. So that is a stereotype that we fight against. I was actually in the gifted program in school and I, I was a very good student. ADHD manifests very differently in girls and, and women than it does this stereotypical boy that gets in trouble. You know for girls, we may be the, the quiet one who's over in the corner, daydreaming or doodling looking out the window.
So because we're not causing trouble. We, we get overlooked. And so being smart can actually mask the symptoms of ADHD. But besides being able to do well in school high achievers that have ADHD. Usually have very unique sometimes very specialized talents and interests and they've built their life's work around those interests.
So you know, they may still have trouble getting organized, getting started, remembering things, focusing, you know, for, for a lot of their tasks, but they have at least a few specific activities or tasks that they can hyperfocus on and execute. Really in an extraordinary way. Tho those are the people that get noticed by the media, like Michael Phelps, Simone Biles David Neman, the founder of jet blue airlines, Paris Hilton will Smith.
I could go on and on, but all of these famous people have ADHD. And instead of always trying to fight against the way their brain is wired, they focus on their strengths and they really thrive. Another factor is that high achievers with ADHD usually work harder doing things like getting an advanced degree or building your own business or excelling at your job.
Those are things are difficult enough, but imagine how hard you have to work to achieve those things. When you have. Because organizing, prioritizing initiating tasks, avoiding distraction, managing your time are so challenging. So they just work harder and working harder can also mean focusing on the things that matter and not spending so much time on the things that aren't as important to you. So you don't have to work hard at everything, you know, Michael Phelps just focused on swimming and that was it.
Liz: So that is super interesting to hear. And what I'd love to know then is where does a high achiever who has ADHD, where do they run into difficulties? So where or when does it become a challenge for them?
Cindy: Oh, wow. There are so many challenges with ADHD, even with high achievers. I'll name just, just a few of them that I have helped people with. One is called time blindness and people with ADHD really just have a different awareness of time than other people. They live in only two time periods now and not.
And that's it. The ADHD brain is reactive instead of being an initiator, they react. So let's say your boss at work says a report is due next week. Well, if you have ADHD, your brain thinks, oh, next week, that's not now. And then, you know, don't think about it again until right before. And you've got this looming deadline that, that actually brings it into the now then you kick into gear.
And hyper focus and get it done, but that's a very stressful way to live. So that can be a problem. And people with ADHD are very creative and their creative minds have lots and lots of ideas. And so if we're not careful, each one of those ideas can become this rabbit trail that distracts us from the original.
And so you end up with a lot of unfinished projects and tasks. And because we, we tend to chase the new and the shiny objects and the novel, right. People with ADHD Another factor for time is they don't accurately estimate how long something will take to accomplish. So they end up getting overcommitted in their schedules a lot.
They have FOMO fear of missing out, you know, their people pleasers all these different reasons and, and they have trouble saying no. So an inaccurate estimate of time also means that they're often rushed and they're late a lot. That creates a lot of stress. So they live in this, this chaos and besides time management.
A lot of what I see is just piles of paper. ADHD. People are very visual and we have a poor working memory. Sometimes we're afraid that if we put something away, it'll be outta sight outta mind. . And so the act of making decisions about what to do with the paper can just feel exhausting and overwhelming.
So clutter can be a problem and I help people with that as well. So even when performance is high, there's a hidden emotional cost of ADHD. And that's often taking a toll that people don't see gifted high achieving people with ADHD, often struggle with anxiety. Even when the performance is high, they can be perfectionist and they can let that perfectionism lead to procrastination.
And so then procrastination causes anxiety. So they may suffer from boredom because they have to do, you know, necessary repetitive work and they have low frustration for. Low tolerance for frustration. And so that just makes doing boring things almost feel like impossible and sometimes just getting started is the hardest part.
So there there's several things like that that I help people with. Even when they're high achievers.
Liz: Okay, that makes a lot of sense. And another area that I've heard people talk about saying this is very difficult, is managing job searching with ADHD. And this is especially if someone's been laid off, which was seeing a lot more of, unfortunately right now, or if they have imposter syndrome and I've even seen people talk specifically around the challenge of something called.
R S D so for those listeners who haven't heard of this before, it's called rejection sensitive dysphoria that a lot of folks with our ADHD have, and in general, just like trying to stay motivated when facing constant rejection because we all know that job searching. You get, you get a lot of no's is not as simple as putting out your resume and just getting the first job that that you're interested in.
So, Cindy, I'd love to hear from. , if you could speak to that about staying motivated when you've either been laid off, you have imposter syndrome and, and you have ADHD. And especially for those who, who have RSD.
Cindy: Yeah. Being out of work can be very tough, whether you have ADHD or not. The first thing is to treat, getting a job like your full-time job. It's important to remember that you, you already have an important job and that's to market yourself. That is your job. So you will need to set up a work schedule.
For job hunting. How many hours a day are you gonna commit to it? When are you gonna do it? How are you gonna divide your time up? You, you need to formulate a plan. You can't just do it when you feel like it and identify your abilities. And that's where having ADHD becomes very important because we tend to be very good at what we're good at.
And then almost non-functional in other areas, that we don't Excel in. So you'll, you'll have to be particular about the job that you choose. I've I've had people before make a list of things that they would do, even if they were not paid. So try to think of 25 things you would do. I mean, it could be driving, cooking, talking to people, you know, whatever and consider.
Careers that, that use the skills that you are good at and then identify a market. People with ADHD have a hard time, you know, when it comes to narrowing choices, but, but this exactly what you've got to do at this point, make a list of jobs that interest you and research those careers to find the actual work that's done in those positions, like what specific skills are required and what do you need to learn?
Remember after getting hired, you, you have to be able to deliver, so you don't wanna make any claims that are untrue. And then you have to be ready to tell other people about your abilities. The job's not gonna go to the person who's best at doing the actual job, but they're gonna go to the person that's best at marketing themselves for the job.
And so remember in the job interview, all the questions really come down to the employer. asking one thing, what can you do for me? And it's really not about us. It's about the employer. So practice videotape yourself. As you talk about you how do you sound? Do you sound believable? Are, do you, would you hire you and then looked apart.
A lot of hiring decisions are made in the first 30 seconds of the interview. So to get a job, you need to look like you already have a. And I know some people like to work in their pajamas at home. I suggest that you get up and put makeup on, do your hair and get dressed. Even when you're just looking for a job on the computer, cuz you'll feel better you know, visit the place ahead of time.
If you can, as far as imposter syndrome, confidence is so important. So don't be afraid to apply for the job that you want. Don't assume that you're not gonna get it. But before your interview, Pick a, a phrase that you can say to yourself, like I can do this or something like that. And practice saying it in, in your head.
The more prepared you are, the better you're gonna feel. And, and as for RSD, it it's tough. You put yourself out there and you, you, you get this impersonal rejection email with no feedback to tell you where you went wrong. I've been there done. But just be prepared as prepared as you can. By practicing like a mock interview, make a list of thoughtful questions that you can ask, cuz they always say, do you have any questions you can ask?
And then remember that they're not rejecting you as a person. You just weren't meant to have that job. If you're a person of faith like me, then you then you know that that your future is secure and that you're gonna be taken care of. So set some of that anxiety aside and and maintain that confidence and and just keep going.
Liz: Thank you for sharing that. And let's get into some tactical advice. Then let's like start talking about how our listeners can make some changes and some really, you know, simple concrete ones. So tell me what are two or three tips or techniques that you love to give to higher achievers who have ADHD and that they can start implementing right away.
Cindy: Sure. That's a great question. I, I love to get practical. So let's see. First I would just work on being a better estimator of time. Make a simple time log and keep it going for at least three days. So write down all the regular things that you do, like your commute to work report, you know, maybe writing a report cooking dinner, things like.
And then write down how much time you think it's gonna take you to complete those tasks. And then when you do the, the actual thing, notate the actual start time and then record the, the ending time. And at the end of the three days, you can go back and examine. you know, how accurate you were, where do you need to make changes?
Where do you need to add margins into your schedule? So that's one simple thing that you can do, secondly ditch the to-do list. Okay. Instead, make a today list. Take your giant to-do list. Cuz I know you have one, right? We all do. And use the Eisenhower matrix. If you don't know what that is, you can, you could Google that.
It's just a quadrant. That's used to prioritize, you have four quadrants and the things that are the most urgent and most important, those things go on your today. List. The three to five is ideal, and then the things that are important, but not as urgent, get scheduled. Onto your calendar. So you, you have to actually put a specific time and a specific day that you're going to do them.
You can't just say, well, I'm not doing it today. I'll do it later because later will never come and yes, you should be using a planner. That's a conversation for another time, but things that are urgent, but not as important, you can delegate those. If, if possible, and then the other things, the things that are not important, not urgent, they need to be removed from your list.
If they've been showing up on that same list day after day for six months, you're, you're probably not gonna do it. just take it off. If you work from home, It's important that you create your own structure and you need your own systems for success. I know that sounds boring, but there's so much freedom and just having having systems.
And so if you wanna create new habits, let let let's take a health habit. Let's say that you want to start taking a multivitamin every day. try habit stacking. That's where you stack a new habit with something that you already do without thinking, like, for example, if for years you have been drinking coffee every morning, then you probably don't forget to drink coffee.
You just do it without thinking you wake up, you can get that cup coffee. If you're like me, I have. The coffee maker that grinds the beans and you can set a timer. So it just it's already, when I get up. So start setting the bottle of vitamins next to the coffee maker. The night before, when you set the timer, then in the morning that bottle will serve as a visual reminder.
And then once you take one, put the bottle back in the cabinet. So you remember that you took one and that works with rewards as well. So let's say you really don't like to exercise, but you love to read and you can make a deal with yourself and say, I can only listen to my audio books when I'm on the exercise, bike. There's so many more that that's a start.
Liz: Oh, those are so good. And how about mindset? So my listeners know that I talk about mindset a lot and the importance and the value in being able to shift your own thoughts. And I know that's a big piece of your work as well. So can you talk about growth mindset or other concepts that have been valuable for your clients?
Cindy: Yes, that is a good one. A growth mindset is the key to success in my coaching program. That's why the first P and the three P power plan stands for positive. So how many of us put off doing boring tasks? And we don't tell ourselves that we're avoiding doing it because it's boring. We just tell ourselves, oh, I don't, I don't have time right now.
So. I'll give you an example. I have to unpack my suitcase Shandra thought after returning from a trip. Let's say she used to dread, unpacking her suitcase so much that she'd leave it open on the floor for weeks and just Rumage through as, as needed. And of course not unpacking. The suitcase was counterproductive, but people with ADHD put off tasks that they think are boring.
And we don't admit this though. We just tell ourselves that we don't have time or we're too tired. And so we're really just drawing out the anguish and creating even more work in the end. But we could change that by changing our mindset. And so we have to learn how to shift, how we talk to ourselves and how we think about so-called boring tasks, for example you know, we might see ourselves as victims forced to do something.
When a task is considered something that you have to do. But instead try saying that the test, the task is a will do. Instead of acknowledging that it's something that you hate doing, that's gonna transform your mindset and an even bigger shift occurs when you think I choose to do this tough task, cuz it needs to get done.
I had a fitness instructor friend and she taught me to say, my name is Cindy and I do hard things. and I love that. So then, you know, imagine how your attitude in life. Might change by adding, I choose to do it to the best of my ability. So a fixed mindset is the opposite. That's when people view mistakes as a reflection of how smart they are, but people who have a growth mindset, they believe that intelligence is, is moldable.
You know, they see mistakes and failures and setbacks, not as things to fear, but rather. Things they can learn from things they can grow from. So they would say that potential is not something that's predetermined, but it's something that can can grow by a person working hard and effectively and, you know, actively trying to become better.
So I'm a, I'm a teacher and I see this in, in the school. one student might say, I'm not good at math. Well, that's a fixed mindset that they've told themselves over the years. And another student says I'm not good at math yet, but I'm working on it. so do you see the difference? Student, the first student will stop trying because they believe the lie that because they're not good at math now, that means that they can't learn math and they'll never be good at math.
And the other one believes that they're, they can grow in knowledge over time. So you know, try to catch yourself saying things like I can't do that. I, I wouldn't know where to begin or I just don't have time. What if I fail. So the reasons for not pursuing our dreams are plentiful. But, but you would be amazed at how much you can accomplish with a, a switch of mindset.
So you gotta get rid of what I call stinking thinking and train your brain to assume the best, not the worst. See the glass is half full. So. just be more mindful the next time you face a difficult situation. And so going back to the girl with the suitcase, when thinking about unpacking her suitcase, Shandra started thinking it has to be unpacked sometime.
So why not now? And she knew that it's gonna make her feel better about herself and, and it's gonna make the room look better. And it will allow her to have the items that she needed readily available. So when we dislike a task, you know, we, we think about how long and unpleasant it's gonna be. But guess what? It only took her 10 minutes to unpack. .
Liz: Cindy. This has been amazing. That was so insightful. Thank you so much for helping all of us better understand ADHD and becoming more productive. I, I so appreciate you taking the time to be here and educating us and helping us learn. So now tell us, tell everyone is listening, where can they find you? How can they learn from you and how can they become become more productive?
Cindy: Well, it was my pleasure. I've really enjoyed this conversation. I would say the best way to reach me is on social media. You could find me on Instagram. My handle is CBC_Cindybakercoaching. I also have a free Facebook group. Called adult ADHD, positive performance club. And in fact, I have an exciting event coming up that I would love to tell your audience about it's going to be held in my free Facebook group, July 9th and 10th.
It's a free live two day challenge event called chaos to control. It's all about how to get more done with less stress. And even if you don't have ADHD, it's super practical. Time management organization, things like that. So the link to register is B I T like I bit a cookie bit.ly/ChaosToControl.
So bit.ly/ChaosToControl. It's gonna be awesome. And I hope to see a lot of your listeners there. The best way to reach me is to shoot me a DM on Instagram or Facebook. And so I hope to meet some of you and I have really enjoyed our time together.
Liz: Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If this podcast helped you or inspired you in any way, I would love for you to leave me a review over on apple podcasts, it takes 20 seconds, if that, and it's, it's honestly the easiest way for you to thank me for this episode. Every time I see a review, it brings me so much joy and it just lights me up.
So if you could do that for me, I would be ever so grateful. Now, the other thing you can do is you can take a screenshot of this episode or even a screenshot of your review and send it to a friend or share it in a Facebook group or even post on your LinkedIn newsfeed to let other people know about this podcast and this episode.
Thanks again. And now get out there and start breaking some rules.