ADHD - Business Superpower Or The Source Of All Chaos With Max Lawrence

ADHD - Business Superpower Or The Source Of All Chaos  With Max Lawrence

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connect podcast it's thursday evening we're on the smart connector group and we're here live with one of my clients max lawrence welcome max hi so max is a an adhd business coach but he has an incredible career um which we're going to talk about before that um so we're really going to get into this whole topic of adhd tonight and talk about uh why so many entrepreneurs have adhd why some of them are undiagnosed how to actually recognize adhd and also why adhd can be a business superpower not not just a disability so we're going to be looking at all of those issues tonight so max is the expert so max i think probably the best way to start is just for you to introduce yourself and just to tell your story yeah hi thanks jade um so yeah i um where to start i basically discovered that i had adhd only just under two years ago after um a career of building boutique hotels in morocco in marrakech and i went i ended up going out there through my dad's business and very quickly sort of ended up building my own and um i i i after school i didn't go to university i kind of knew that i wanted to go to morocco i loved morocco and it was going to be a year it ended up turning into 12. and basically i um yeah i ended up buying land and building two boutique hotels that became very well known and very busy and but um and i kind of managed in my chaotic way because i i i didn't know this at the time i know now looking back that i i was quite chaotic and you know i was very distractable and i'd be into one thing one day and my dad would always say to me you know you don't finish things you start always new new things new exciting things i want to do this and so we get going and then next week it's that i want to do that and that you know i i now know was um definitely fueled by adhd um and in morocco i somehow i did you know i i got it together and i i always kind of succeeded with things but um yeah i really had you know i i got onto some projects that were really quite big and you know i borrowed money from banks and from family and i needed to make this work so when the motivation is there um it's much easier to focus and so um yeah i i had these successes and i also ran a production company in marrakech looking after lots of fashion shoots and uh you know it was all very exciting and it was exciting because i was kind of i needed excitement so i was always running towards the next exciting thing and this is the thing with adhd is that if we're not interested in what we're doing we just lose interest we just get our mind gets dragged to something else and we something catches our eye and we're off in a new direction um so i was very much like that and then the hotels were successful and um and i mean about hotels i built two hotels with a friend one of them in a year and i saw i had these two simultaneous building sites going on one in the atlas mountains one in the palm in the primary which is just outside marrakech you know with about 350 workers on these two sites and i was rushing between the two it was like one hotel building site wasn't enough for me i needed to have two going on because you know one would get two borings i'd go to the other one you know and i i see this pattern all the way through my life now going right back to childhood you know when in the 80s um sundays were horrible days for me because in those days the law was that no shops could be open except a news agent from nine till twelve to go and get your papers and your suites kind of thing i remember it well yeah you know it's like another world but i i found some days excruciating because my dad's office which was in a stable block kind of next to our house there were no workers there you know at the weekend because i used to go into the office and chat all the girls and stick envelopes and and so sunday was this dead day and i um i i remembered this in therapy and i did 20 years of therapy before i got diagnosed with adhd and you know i used to go and set off the burger alarm by pushing um pushing the panic button secretly because i knew that ten minutes later there'd be a police car at the gate blue lights all very excited i only admitted this to my parents you know in the last probably 10 or 15 years but i think they kind of knew um and so i was always hunting after what i now know to be dopamine i just thought it was like adrenaline i needed excitement it if it was dull i was you know i was bored i was kind of low energy but i could get very fired up and you know around exciting stuff and so yeah there's this theme through my childhood and my adolescence and you know early adulthood in my 20s building these hotels but i got very bored when the hotels had opened you know the big challenge was to build them uh staff them train the staff equip them you know furnish them and for them to be beautiful and to get them to to work and we were running at very high occupancy and it was just like it became mundane it became the same thing every day it was just like my i felt like my work was done as soon as it became repetitive you know i was kind of um i was bored and um and that's where the kind of alcohol stuff you know started kicking in and drugs and you know i think i wasn't stimulated enough and so i was kind of self-medicating not knowing i had adhd on alcohol and stimulants and uh you know morocco joints and you know i mean people self-medicate on all sorts of things gambling porn you know but for me it got quite hairy yeah yeah yeah so obviously i know your story and it is it is an incredible story and we've talked about you writing a book one day and i really think you should do that um so let's get on to this um this issue of addiction because addiction and adhd often go hand in hand don't they yeah absolutely i mean i now know that adhd people are six times more likely to become to struggle with addiction you know whether it's with food and overeating binge eating which i also struggle with chocolate is my problem um at night especially but yeah food drink drugs anything that floods the brain with dopamine for a few minutes uh yeah because we're lacking in normal people's dopamines there and in adhd our dopamine levels are down here and so when you eat a piece of chocolate cake or you have sex or you have a pint of beer it comes up to a normal place and that's why a lot of adhd say well you know i just kind of feel normal on it you know they'll take hard stimulant drugs and say well actually i feel kind of normal and i at the beginning you do until you start going too far with it because it just brings the dopamine level up to a point where you're in perfect condition and you know another example of this is in a drama you know why are the fire services ambulance services police all full of adhds because we're really good in a crisis when you know when everything's normal we're distracted and looking at the ceiling and looking around and then some drama happens we get the rush adrenaline with dopamine and the level comes up to normal and then everybody else is like jelly what do we do what do we do because they've got too much of it flying around but we've been raised to the normal point and so when my grandmother choked on an olive the rest of my family were all like didn't even know what to do not to move and i just calmly stood up walked around the table and went back and the olive shot out because i was in a place with enough dopamine now that i could function well right right so now that you're talking about this we are talking about whether adhd can be a business superpower now business and particularly entrepreneurship it can be very stimulating and uh doing deals in particular your business was a property business you did deals and um you know i know i have a property business as well i know that there is something very addictive about doing deals because um you get that rush don't you get that high so is that why um why adhd it can be a business superpower as well as a disability i think it's that and i think it's also the you know adhd people we tend to think we look like we're not thinking at all because we're like lost but actually the head is going a thousand ideas a minute yeah and um and that's why we look like we're not focusing on what's happening because we're elsewhere with ideas and our ideas you know a lot of adhd people think very much outside the box so we would approach problems in a different way to other people um i didn't know this at the time but you know my approach would would be quite different from everybody else's and when i chose to put a hotel on the side of a hill overlooking a berber village and nothing a friend of mine said to me you're completely mad to be buying this piece of land you know but i i could see how it was going to be and um and two years later it was full and you know so we do look at stuff in a different way i think we're good problem problem solvers um and so yes there are lots of people out there who've made real successes especially in entrepreneurship because we're not very good employees we don't turn up on time we forget what we're supposed to bring and so a lot of adhds tend to get fired a lot getting fired is something very very common and um you know i've read stories about people being fired a hundred times in two years you know which is excruciatingly painful you know if you need that job whatever it is flipping burgers or driving a bus but you can't deliver because your executive functions the functions which execute things so adhds have all the knowledge we have no problem with knowing in the back of the brain we have the knowledge we know what to do and how to do it but we really struggle with x the execution of things so getting started or completing tasks um and organization you know it can be quite chaotic um i got around it not knowing what i was dealing with but i got around it by building teams around me so i didn't manage all those people i built little teams and i would speak to one person who i knew was really organized and that's how i must have you know made these things happen by just you know coordinating people with a very rough crayon you know rather than a precise pen um but yeah i think the the whole success there are so many adhd big success stories um in our country you know richard branson's one and you know there are lots um and so it's the creativity the creative thinking the different thinking the problem solving and also yes this um this this need for excitement and risk taking so we can be very impulsive a lot with my impulsivity and but the impulsivity that nearly killed me later you know through addictions um i believe that's what made me buy that crazy bit of land on the edge of a hill and you know when everybody said no i just was like yeah i'm doing it and you know i made lots of decisions that turned out to be fortuitous uh along the way but people were always looking at me sideways and going what is this guy on you know of course you when they were saying what is this guy on you were you were on a lot weren't you after a while you weren't genuinely oh yeah i mean you know the drugs and the drink kind of it got to a point where it was all kind of i was in my 20s so it was quite normal to be doing partying but i never quite knew when to end the party and um and you know it started going bad and i i came back to england and i went through a treatment center and i was introduced to alcoholics anonymous which i hated but in the end really saved my life because i got sober in alcoholics anonymous 15 years ago and um and i i lived nine years sober i then had a few years of drinking normally living in the countryside very relaxed and happy it went well until something didn't go well and then i kind of went through another spiral and it was that spiral that actually brought me to find out about adhd and i will say because i think this i think this is important that um so many people get missed you know now they spot kids in school and they go off to the the psychiatrist and the parent takes them and listens to the questions the parent is asking them and so many parents now are sitting there listening going that's me too that's me too that's what i wonder if i might have you know and so loads of adults are being diagnosed with adhd now that weren't before through their children um but i was missed for 20 years of therapy some excellent therapists in london you know nobody ever mentioned adhd to me a top london psychiatrist who i saw for two years he missed it he recently apologized to me and said you know i kind of could have spotted that he's retired now and i said no what you you saved me as well you kept me going through that that time and eventually i got to this place where this one therapist um based in wiltshire actually said you might want to check out adhd and i did i got an audio book and in london one day in the car i was driving listening to this thing and at the end of chapter three i just broke into tears at a traffic light because it was just like i suddenly understood myself i had the explanation for all this craziness really it was very um it was overwhelming because i you know you struggle with addiction and i i was sober but i felt like i was white knuckling it up the whole time because i had this incessant obsession voice in my head sort of torturing me and that has basically vanished through the adhd diagnosis through understanding but also through understanding the lack of dopamine what i was my brain was hunting was dopamine and dopamine can be found in foods sex drugs you know all sorts of um things that are fine unless you do too much of them and as adhd is we don't really have a great grey position we're binary we're either on or off we're black and we're white and so the middle path it doesn't really exist very much for us yeah it's it's such a fascinating topic so today max you work with a lot of business people and entrepreneurs so high performing high functioning professionals and entrepreneurs to help them solve adhd now at first sight that's like well how on earth do you do that so how do you actually work with your clients to to help them well firstly i should say there is no solving adhd adhd is here to stay if you have it it's going to be there so me using those words sold adhd what i really mean is solve your adhd problems the issues you have so they people come to me you know and they're very successful most of them are really you know doing well they've got companies that are that are thriving um and they come with very you know there are some common denominator things so it's organization it's procrastination it's motivation it's hopping around and you know like a blue ass flight never being able to sit still and constantly managing this endless stream of new ideas that's so tempting to us all the time we're like magpies anything that glistens we're on it we're on it we're on it and but we have we have so much going on that we often miss the routine stuff that we don't like you know the admin stuff the um the you know speaking to our teams um about more mundane stuff and yeah i mean people basically know that they're struggling with something then they often realize that they've got adhd they get diagnosed and it like me you know it's a massive revelation and they want change because when you get to 30 or 40 years old and you've really suffered with this um you know not understanding yourself and upsetting people around you terrifying people around you you you kind of just want you think i wish i'd found this out 20 years ago but it's not too late and now i really want my life to be better and the people around me who are near to me to be better um and so people are tend to be really keen and some of them have struggled a long time and they've tried it their own way and they're just fed up and they just this whole executive functions business is really tricky it's actually very simple but you need i don't think it's possible to help yourself and i'll give myself as an example here i'm i'm helping people who have trouble procrastinating you know these are really bright people they've got great things that they're doing but there are things that they're just struggling to even either get started or get finished you know that to-do list or those to-do lists that are everywhere are long and annoying and i'm able to really quite easily help people break out of their procrastination it surprises me how effectively i can do that with them but when i try and break out of my own procrastination um it's really hard and actually that's what brought me to you as a client it's you know i i'm doing i've got this great coaching um set up you know coaching adhd entrepreneurs which i love and it's probably the most satisfying work i've ever done um but i want to you know get better at social media and i want to put out a video of this and i want to put out you know make a film of this and write a book of that but you know what i could be here 10 years later in the same position just coaching away and that's why i came to you and it's been so helpful you know i mean you've unlocked something well you're you're doing to me what i'm doing with my clients yes they need and i need somebody to um to make me accountable because until there is accountability uh it's very hard to do something that doesn't really have a fixed due date on it you know we always push it to the back and um you know we've got so many things going on that oh it'll wait another day but you know there are things that i'm doing with you that have waited two weeks and i've said no i'm doing it in the next hour but many many days and hours later it's still not done so i'm finding that with you i'm getting this i think i'm getting a similar experience to what i'm providing my clients with obviously i'm able to provide them with quite deep insight into the adhd intensity of procrastination or disorganization you know i teach people how to use a calendar properly most people come in saying oh i use a digital calendar and i say show me and they show me and of course i can show them immediately why it's not working you know because i developed my own organizational method over 15 years without knowing that i was why i was creating it i just knew that i needed you know to get things done so i i boiled this thing down into something that's become very very you know essential for me and as i teach it to other people they come back two three weeks later saying this is amazing and it's changed my life and that's so satisfying to me because it's my system it is very simple i can teach it in an hour but what's hard is sticking to it so yeah i'm helping them through their objections which are rooted in childhood experiences and um to and their objections and their and their kind of resistance to it you know we resist new things and adhd is resist hard yeah yeah yeah yeah so so max i've noticed a comment that says adhd is a label and i've noticed this with a lot of a lot of um call it disabilities um you know mental conditions break brain configurations or whatever because uh my nephew had uh he was diagnosed with asperger's and i know now they call it they just call it autism and so on yeah um but some people really say look that that is wrong to actually label people and that um and that really people should should just like brains come in all sorts of different configurations and people should just be accepted for who they are without actually putting these labels on them um but you know as humans it it helps us doesn't it we want to identify with a tribe and if we see that somebody is actually got a cluster of symptoms or or even just a brain that looks like ours it makes us feel less alone doesn't it so is it a bad thing to have an adhd label or diagnosis i mean is it any worse than calling somebody an entrepreneur you know an entrepreneur is just somebody who does um business things off for themselves to make money okay it's a group of symptoms that we've put a label of entrepreneur on it okay so there's no negative connotation with entrepreneur and i think that connotation the negative connotation it very much depends on who you are who you live with um you know uh kids i hear kids you know my kids at school you know kids call each other adhd like we used to call people you know other things back in the game and um you know oh you're so adhd well yeah it's a label i'm so glad to have the label now i mean i the label has been absolute relief and um what's i think what's worse than having a label is knowing there's something going on but not knowing what it is yeah definitely you're lagging for a label after 20 30 years of that uh you know a statistic that i i think is really quite revealing is that um on average an adhd who gets to the age of 30 by the time they're 30 they will have received 10 000 more negative comments towards them than a non-adhd and so that goes right back into childhood to parents oh come on you know you always ate my you know teachers will you please look at the board thomas you know um if only he tried harder he's got great ability but not using it you know if he could pull himself together all those comments you know friends think you're always late we can't rely on you you know all those little comments like why why can't you pack your own bags and actually keep them tidy why what what is the matter with you why don't you pick your clothes up why'd you just drop everything on the floor and yeah i mean it's you know the for the child who grows into a teen who grows into an adult it's a constant bombardment of negative comments around things that we just well that's the way we are you know my son you know he's getting better but he's also got adhd and that was part of my motivation when i was diagnosed a month later he was diagnosed yeah and i just knew i had to knew know everything about adhd that i could so i read everything watched everything read the scientific neurological papers and i had to know because i wanted to do everything i could to avoid him having this you know this long wait to find out you know why things are like this um but yeah i i think it's you know those all those 10 000 extra negative comments are like somebody chipping away with a hammer and chisel at your self-esteem yeah basically adhd self-esteem shrivels up inside them over the years and by the time somebody gets to the end of a university and they've maybe you know not made it through university because they couldn't turn up to lectures on time hand in work because you know at university it's a month later that you've got to hand the work in well a month goes past they've forgotten about it they get an alert three days before and it's a mad rush and people you know so many adhds leave university in the second or third year and um you know so this shriveled up self-esteem inside has basically started believing all these negative comments and what i'm doing in my coaching is helping give them the sort of scaffolding to have the executive functions to be organized but also to regrow that that self-worth that has been tripled up you know we have a rubbery kind of ego around us that protects us from all these things and we say yeah i'm okay i'm okay but actually inside it's very painful and i hear that every day from people yeah that's why going through learning these new skills often triggers emotions you know the the sort of fourth part of adhd after the impulsivity hyperactivity inattention is the emotional dysregulation we we are affected by our emotions more than average people are okay so why is that max well the whole thing about adhd i mean it's really not a very good name for the the the you know the diagnosis it doesn't really describe it well you know if it were being called something else i would suggest dopamine deficiency because we are deficient in dopamine dopamine is the neurotransmitter that carries the signal in the brain of reward so you have sex you eat a piece of chocolate cake you feel a rewarding sensation yeah that rewarding sensation is there for a reason if we didn't feel rewarded when we ate we wouldn't want to come back for more if we didn't feel rewarded having sex we wouldn't want to come back for having more and the human species would die out no food no sex no babies no survival you know so um it's there for a good reason but we lack it and so dopamine helps people to lock on onto stuff to feel that rewarding sensation you're writing an essay you've written the title you've got a little bit of a reward oh i've written the title i can carry on first paragraph oh good i've done the first paragraph reward feeling i'll write the next paragraph what happens with us is we don't get that reward feeling because we haven't got the dopamine and so we just get distracted we're not being rewarded by having written the title of the first paragraph so we just oh a squirrel on the tree or you know that what's that noise over there i'll come back in just a second three hours later we haven't come back because he's forgotten we our memory our our our working memory short-term memory is absolutely shot yeah so actually i can't remember what the question was now yeah yes but but it's it's just such a fascinating discussion so let's talk a little bit more about about addiction and about your own kind of addiction journey and how how you kind of fell into that and what made you what what made you really what was the catalyst for you actually um you know going into recovery and and uh yeah all of that yeah i mean for me it um it was all i like to think that it was all you know manageable and it kind of was for a while and then it became you know the things that were happening to me including ending up in a coma car accidents um you know i drove my own car off a cliff once and that was jumping out two meters before the cliff because i was completely high and paranoid and thought i'd um you know distract the police and i think you know he's dead down on the rocks dead and so but you know my shoelace could have got caught on that pedal and i instead of getting out two meters before um i could have gone down with it and so these things kept happening yeah and you know it was all very colorful and very and terrifying for those who care for me and you know i was very lucky that you know my wife who was you know we've been together for 25 years now you know that i had somebody very strong who who who stayed and um oh yeah you know um but for my parents you know i put people near to me my parents my sister my my girlfriend at the time um just through horrific stuff worry and um you know it builds up and it gets to a point where you just fee you just know it can't go on like this yeah people are going to have to leave you because they can't handle it anymore yeah and so you know i a was um i struggled with a at the beginning and i struggled because i have this impulsive nature i'd be walking to an aaa meeting down the king's road or whatever yeah walk past the bar and then and i was going to that a meeting you know and the next thing i know is i'm having a pint you know it's all very nice but uh i i didn't intend that and this is what happens you know this is why i mean another statistic that is really quite scary is that the um the life expectancy of untreated adult adhds is reduced by between 12 and 20 years so if you smoke a packet of cigarettes every day for your whole life it reduces by i think nine years so adhd is 12 to 20 years it's it's absolutely shocking and that's to do with the mixture of obesity from overeating um alcohol and drug problems driving accidents because inattentiveness you know um you don't see stuff coming you're not paying attention lots of car accidents and um and also the impulsivity driving a car you know i'll overtake the truck now bang and you're off and you needed to really calculate a bit longer yeah yeah and i bought a rollercoaster ride that that costs people their lives all the time and so when people say you know this this thing about the um the label um oh it's a label you know we shouldn't be calling people like that having getting that label is a lifesaver because you can identify what you're dealing with i didn't know what i was dealing with i i know i'm a smart um you know capable person i've done all sorts of things and i can make all sorts of things happen and i have but at the same time i was an absolute liability you know um it is it's treacherous and so this whole thing about you know um getting diagnosed and being called adhd or add or whichever it is um i hope more and more people are diagnosed for the moment we say that eight percent uh five percent of the population roughly is adhd in a prison population in in this country 35 percent of the prison population is adhd and that's because of the impulsivity that just like go for it kind of attitude which for me enabled me to build great businesses because i was just like plow through go go go but if you imagine that saying go go go on a kid who's in a rough growing up in a rough neighborhood and the only option he's got is to you know a friend says let's go and rob this corner shop go go go let's go you know no thoughts just like me a mind took me to a positive place basically um but for so many people it's not positive at all whether it's addictions or crime uh you know just very destructive yeah and of course the other thing uh that is i actually my sister's adhd she also got a late diagnosis and she has it quite badly in fact um but one of the things that that she is is very apparent about her is the um inattention if somebody else is speaking so the communication can also really be affected by that can't it um and of course people can then get very impatient and very intolerant and it's like you never listen to me you're always talking about yourself um is that very common as well i mean the effect on relationships is massive because for that reason you know people get fed up of having at least the impression that they're not being heard and listened to most a lot of the time we are listening we're hearing it yeah but you've also got another thing another wheel turning and another wheel turning and so it might take a poke to get us to come back yeah and very often you know we actually have heard but we kind of need to spin it back play it back um that is destructive in relationships because everybody needs to feel heard and um the interrupting is also another thing you know yeah i'm a terrible interrupter and i think that's we get very understood for that we people think oh they're just so rude you know they just want to talk about what they want to talk about in reality i've worked out that the reason i interrupt is because my short-term memory is so bad that when i have i'm in a conversation with you and i have a thought that i want to say to you and i know that if i don't say it right now in eight ten twelve seconds i won't be able to remember that thought it would have just gone evaporated and i'll be sitting here going i knew i wanted to say something to jay you know so this desire to throw stuff out there as it comes into our heads because we know it's not going to hang you know hang out in our heads for very long you know but we get very misunderstood i think a lot of people um you know and we can learn to tame these things it's not easy because it's like you know if you're 40 it's certainly not easy if you're um you know maybe if you're eight you you're still in that but you know old habits die hard and um yeah it is a battle and that's why you know coaching people are really you have to have them for long enough to really be able to help because it takes time to embed a new habit in a non-adhd person yeah to embed it in you know to bet for it to bed in in an adhd brain can take can be more challenging you know and there is also this defiancy that comes with adhd so there's a thing called oppositional defiant disorder so we all know people who are basically whatever you say to them they say the opposite you know whether it's right or wrong so that kind of can come with adhd for a lot of people there's a bit of defiancy so if if somebody says you know will you sit down please no it won't you know it would have been the same opposite answer you know so and that maybe is also part of the superpower you know people telling you no you will never manage to do that yes i will yeah yeah yeah determination yeah yeah you know and i've also heard that hyper focus is associated with adhd and as i said i've got it in my family i think i probably got i don't think i've got it severely but i do think that i probably you know would fit a a sort of minor diagnosis uh because of course all these things sit on the spectrum because one thing that i definitely have is this thing about hyper focus so if i get into something and i really am into it i don't have this uh this issue maybe that other people have of like this is boring i want to stop or whatever i will go into it and i will get into it so much that i will not even notice time passing and i will just go on and on and on and on like way beyond the limits of what anybody else could and i do recognize that that has served me very well in some respects but can i ask you something how often has that hyperfocus been available to you when you're doing something that you find boring ah it's terrible well never and that is that is of course the other thing because um and i don't know whether this is me or whether it is just anybody but um i have no tolerance no tolerance for things that i don't i don't like i literally cannot engage with them so i think uh and i mean maybe this is uh as i said maybe this is just you know maybe lots of people i don't really know but um but i think what you've described here tonight is a very very very clear profile and i think people that are watching this and listening to this i'm sure that some of them will be thinking wait a minute this sounds like me yeah um and and you know what what i just said about the hyper focus and actually having you know completely unable to engage with the things that i find boring um you know other people will also i think perhaps resonate with that as well so their whole cluster of things aren't they yeah i mean going back to the hyper focus thing the reason we you know the reason we hyper focus is because when we are really interested in something or passionate about something you know i might be into making model planes and for that i concentrate 10 hours non-stop through the night you know to get this thing done um but for adhds we are not able to do that with something that we are not interested or interested or passionate about no you know the actual the thing about this is that normal people have enough dopamine to enable them to have a really boring task in front of them and go that's a really boring task i don't want to do it an adhd goes oh that's a really boring task i'm just going to do that instead but in normal a normal person will look and go the same boring task and it's boring to them they say oh i really don't want to do that boring task but then they glance out over the horizon and what they're looking for on the horizon is the consequence of not doing that bit of work and so once they see the consequence they can weigh it up the weight of the boring task for two hours or the weight of the consequence and then they'll go i don't want the consequence i'm doing the task that's where they get their motivation from from looking out to see the consequences adhd don't look for consequences they're not we're not registering them it's all about now we live in the present and if it doesn't get fun then i'll do this instead you know that is so so well expressed max it's absolutely fantastic so we we have a question here which is does max use a daily or weekly planner so this is yeah i absolutely use a planner i um i didn't own a planner or a diary or a calendar until i was 30. i was living in morocco where everybody is late and it's kind of normal but when i moved to england and i'd turn up at the dentist half an hour late and i you know i thought like in morocco they might say oh yeah you can slip in afterwards no you've missed your appointment the next one is in a month and i very quickly started realizing that living here i'm gonna have to start telling the line because otherwise i won't get anything done you know um so i bought a moleskin week on two page planner with a pen you know pen and pencil and i used that for four years and it improved massively but the problem with it is that it has no voice when the moleskine planner gets another book sound of it i can't see it anymore and i'm not going to look at it because a planner is only as good as it's only useful if you are looking at it so the digital version in our phones today um has an added advantage which makes the tote you know a complete difference in that it can shout at me and it can say i need you to look at me now because there is something i need to show you that you need to see now and i then get the alert oh yeah in two hours i've got to be and without the voice in the planner it's no good so i teach people to use um digital calendars and i have a system that i've kind of come up with myself over the last 15 years since the four years of moleskine ended i went to digital and i really battled with it because there is so much functionality and so many you know our thing can do all this stuff and of course for me all that functionality was just a distraction i would get lost and distracted from actually what i'm supposed to be doing in that calendar so i removed all the all the extras and boiled it down to something very very simple that i could manage and i now realize that what i built is great for other adhds as well so the first thing i generally teach people in the first couple of sessions is my organizational system um which has only two rules which is pretty unique in that you know normally these there are lots of rules but mine only has two rules and um they learn it easily and it does change everything because when you're no longer late when you can turn up on time with the things you are expected to turn up with you know not the right day but the wrong week you know you turn up and you're not getting these this feeling of failure oh you know i did it again i felt you know because we we don't plan to be late um and those little failures all the time they are chipping away at that self-esteem and what happens is self-esteem grows back through being organized and the stresses of all these kind of arrows being fired at you you're late for this your mother's calling and it's all like that these stresses lead to when there are multiple stresses at the same time we go i'm overwhelmed i can't function and overwhelm can last five minutes or it can last a year anywhere between you know there are overwhelms that people get stuck in for more than a year and it becomes a depression and you know and the other thing i should say is that so many of us are misdiagnosed you know i was i had anxiety and ocd from 11. i was on all sorts of medications for those and therapy for anxiety and panic attacks and you know at the end of the day when i went on adhd medication the anxiety the ocd and the panic attacks went because they were just symptoms of the adhd the comorbidities with the adhd so all these doctors and all these therapists and all these really wonderful helpful people totally missed the ball for 20 years in my case and i'm glad i got diagnosed because my nightmare is thinking imagine i hadn't been lucky enough to find out and i had the rest of my life which probably would have ended in catastrophe um you know not ever having understood oneself not having and it's not to have excuses is to have explanations finally getting explanations and this is the same if you're 15 or you're 20 or you're 50 or 80. what a gift to finally retrospectively get an explanation to all that stuff that you always wondered am i just a nutcase you know am i just useless am i just you know in case am i am i just really different i think that's the thing yeah yeah am i am i so different that i'm never gonna be other people are never gonna understand me i think that's what happens maybe when you have these when you have a a profile like that yeah that you think you know i it's very genetic so we tend to find that it's you know now that now that i know i can i can see it pretty much in my dad um he's not bothered because he's old enough to not really you know it worry him but i look at his family and in his family there are three cousins and in the children of those cousins there is a lot of adhd um asperger's um you know it's all over the place and yeah yeah so we've got richard here who um he says he's i have anxiety and panic disorders and hi he's a high functioning autistic so that that is what he is so do those do all those um co-morbidities uh as you call them do they all go together are is it common for adhd people to have um autistic traits for example or or is it just very different i wouldn't say it's common to have i mean there are quite there are a lot of people out there who have adhd and are also on the spectrum you know they they can go together um but i don't think it's a majority it's a you know there are quite a lot but you know what does go very very commonly or what gets discovered before the adhd are you know we struggle with anxiety depression um ocd and those things are all relating to serotonin as a neurotransmitter so yeah when people go to the doctor and say i feel depressed and the doctor gives them ssris selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors they slow the reuptake of the serotonin to make more available serotonin and that serotonin is the happy chemical it's what you know if you're depressed anxious or got ocd it's all fear and anxiety and so the happy chemical more of it in your brain enables us to feel less stressed anxious and it's the same so dopamine is the adhd version it's the neurotransmitter of reward and not having that reward feeling has all these prov you know provokes all these symptoms of not being able to lock on to things focus uh bad memory impulsivity so yeah very often people will find that they've got anxiety or depression um and they will be treated for years and years and given ssris we're not actually what they really need is the adhd version which isn't raising the level of serotonin but it's raising the level of dopamine and i mean i actually still take both i i've been on ssris for my panic disorder for many years but i take the ssris and i take the the same similar thing in the dopamine version because i don't want panic attacks and i'm not actually prepared to even go there to find out whether i still have panic attacks you know it's like panic attacks had me leaving my car halfway through a tunnel or on a bridge because i was terrified and i just had to get off and the traffic wasn't moving fast enough so i walked you know impulsive oh yeah very scary you know um it's so these things do go together i think that because people aren't treating their adhd they're suffering with those um symptoms which are often depression anxiety and the depression is also fueled by the repetitive failure you know if you're losing your job every three weeks yeah you know you're gonna get down about it and you're gonna start really feeling life is when where is it going and obviously 12 to 20 years less longevity a part of that is made up by suicide sadly yeah so sad so sad of course and that is the leading cause of of death um amongst uh young people amongst um men in their forties i mean you know yeah so you know if you don't know you have adhd and you are having lots of problems in your relationships because you are emotionally disregulated and when somebody says to you would you mind putting that dish over on the and you go what the hell you know that's what happens when you're emotionally disregulated your reactions to comment or normal requests can be um out of place and so that's not going to help a relationship you know unless there's basically unconditional love there so friendships partners work relationships colleagues you know there's a limit to how much they can handle and they just start going the guy's nuts he's not nuts he's lacking dopamine and with uh with a simple pill taken in the morning once in the morning he will transform almost overnight literally you know the first time i took the adhd medication it was like i've often heard it described as not being able to see very well and then suddenly somebody gives you a pair of spectacles and you put them on i can see i didn't like how badly i couldn't see and adhd medication is like that it doesn't cure adhd but for the eight hours or the three hours depending on which medication you take it's like putting on glasses you put the glasses on your brain works as everybody else's does and then it runs out at the end of the day and you come back to being adhd max and you go to bed and it's all right during the time that you're out and about into into you know interlocking with other people and um organizations and things you're better off having the glasses on because you kind of see like everybody else does um yeah that's amazing amazingly powerful so we've got a question here which is is fomo uh fear of missing out typical for adhd is i i would imagine the answer's probably yes yeah i i think the fear doesn't last very long because we then if we think we're missing out we very impulsively go wherever we think we're missing out you know um um but yeah fear of missing out i don't think i've had so much fear of missing out i i think i had fear of missing out when i first got sober you know then i felt like i was missing out everything you know everybody's out there drinking and having fun actually half of them are drinking and not having fun you know they're drinking because they are compelled to drink because they do it all the time and they can't survive their own emotions without a chemical to change the way they feel because they're not feeling great about themselves or about their lives or about whatever it is and so you know we're a highly drugged up nation alcohol is legal it's it's a mind-changing chemical like all the others yeah and it certainly kills more people than all the others way more people yes um but people you know are in a there's a lot of fear when you start talking in this country to people about you know maybe you know not drinking or you say to them oh i'm not drinking it's amazing if you're standing in a pub and you they realize you're not drinking they will do it most people will do everything they can to get you drinking oh god just have one you know you'll be fine and um it's mainly because they feel uncomfortable drinking because it's making it's kind of raising the question of you know is it all right are you all right um that the fear of missing out yes when i wasn't in a pub and i thought everybody else was then i felt i was missing out but yeah all i have to do is drive around at about half past eleven you know at the time i was living in london when i got sober and i'd drive around and see girls vomiting all over each other and you know on the floor with broken heels and and guys fighting and you know they probably don't even know what they're fighting about but it's what happens when the pub closes yeah that kind of balanced out my fear of missing out and you know i had my version of um the leaving the pub in a bad state you know it would take me to some very dark places you know with you know you've done the drinking now you want the next thing it's going to be a drug or another drug and you end up on in very dodgy places with dangerous people and um yeah age helps as well i think the fear of missing out has become less with age um sorry i am okay and the one symptom i haven't talked about is that talking a lot about big things so you have to like tie me out okay well um so max um how can people get hold of you what what's the best place to find you sure so well my website which is um max lawrence with the w l a w r e n c e dot c o so okay okay so go there if you want to get in touch with max now if somebody has been listening to this and things wait a minute this is me i like all of a sudden the light bulb has gone on uh how would they go about getting a diagnosis for themselves is it as simple as booking an appointment with the doctor it's not simple it's simple if you can go privately um but as with a lot you know with the nhs and certainly mental health departments of the nhs are very overstretched i think the average waiting time for an adult to be seen for an adhd assessment on the nhs is two years plus so that's you know that's a long time when you're struggling and that's here in the uk because we have listeners on the podcast all over the world so i would imagine that in some countries it's non-existent yeah i mean it really varies around the world um you know but certainly with you know apart from scandinavia where you probably you know you call up and they send somebody around 10 minutes later because they've got the funds um you know in the uk it's really hard and we have we have thousands of people on waiting lists to get an assessment by a psychiatrist and you know get a diagnosis and once you have that diagnosis i mean you can start working on your adhd before having a diagnosis i i coach people who are not diagnosed officially they're not on medication the medication really helps to it helps us focus so that we can focus on understanding our stuff learning new tricks and basically building scaffolding around us to survive adhd better but yeah so i coach people who are not diagnosed but the advantage to getting a diagnosis is that the medication is so effective there is no other psychiatric um psychological problem that needs medication where the medication is so effective as adhd adhd medication works for 80 of people with adhd and then if that if the stimulant medication doesn't work there are other routes non-stimulant medication which are less effective but the adhd medication is so effective that i say to people they say to me should i should i try the medication should i get diagnosed to try the medication and i have to say to them i i really believe everybody should try it because for me the day i started taking that medication my life changed um so so massively and so even if you try it and you decide you don't like it i i you know i encourage people to try it because the the results can be totally life enhancing so can you just walk into a chemist um and and say can i have this adhd medication i think i've got it oh no no no no absolutely stimulant medication is um it's a controlled substance you know um you have two types there's the methylphenidate and there's the amphetamine base but obviously amphetamine is a class b narcotic so this is this is medical you know this is uh i mean made for adhd people but you absolutely cannot buy it over the counter you need a prescription from a psychiatrist and you know it's expensive so if you're doing it privately initially it's a lot of money but then your psychiatrist can pass you back to your gp and then you can once you've been stabilized and titrated onto the right dose your gp can then provide you with a an nhs prescription so you just pay the nhs prescription amount because it's hundreds of pounds a month um otherwise so for many people it's it it's out of range and this is something that i really hope will uh change because um you know if you can't wait two and a half years for an assessment yeah your only route is to go and spend um an outrageous amount of money for a three-hour assessment you know we're talking around a thousand pounds and for for a lot of people that's just not possible and so they have to wait and ultimately that weight kills people yeah it kills people because it can be really hard and um you know some people can't hold on yeah oh so it's it's absolutely tragic really isn't it they ought to you know they ought to do something about that for sure well max all i can say is that it's been such a pleasure i knew this was going to be an absolutely amazing interview and i'm sure that uh people who have listened to it it's they're going to be thinking quite long and hard about some of the things that we've been talking about today so i just wanted to thank you so much for coming coming on and this there's one thing i i'd like to put out there and that is that when we were tribes living in africa yeah when we were hunter-gatherers and there's research done where they sent scientists to work out how what the percentage of adhd people are in each tribe and they've looked at tribes and basically we've understood that before farming when we were all hunter-gatherers the most successful tribes were the ones that had the highest percentage of adhd is why because we're great in the impulsive moment the tiger runs past off we go bang bang bang we will go and catch that tiger we're great in that you know crazy moment but when farming came along um and farming you have to pl sow your seeds at the right time you have to remember to water every day and you have to you know get them out of the ground before they shrivel up it's all about timing it all became about time and we live in a farmer's world now so um this thing about the stigma actually going back you know in different contexts we were top dog adhd trine we were the best we grew biggest strongest because we had more food you know we had great ideas of making tools we were absolutely ahead of the game but since it became a farmer's game and our modern world is a farmer's game you've got to be at work on time you've got to be at school on time i just wanted to put that out there to for anybody for the adhd people we are not useless we are actually really quite um worth having around and this leads to mixing teams in the workplace i think there's a lot more to do about getting neurodiverse people into roles to work much you know to work with all the other people because there's stuff that we can do really well and so i you know this is another area that i'm really interested in is promoting um active recruitment of neurodiverse people to do you know gchq use dyslexic people for recognizing people in crowds because they've got an ability many of them to pick out faces from a crowd very quickly and yeah so yeah i mean look that's a really interesting topic because when i ran my design agency it was a very high level uh design agency and it was also a production company because we specialized in tv design and the interesting thing is that all of the designers not with without fail all of them every single one was dyslexic these were highly talented people working in one of the most competitive fields in the world and really of for our business for what it did it was absolutely one of the best in the world um and ironically they were all of them they were dyslexic and they also uh played bass guitar a lot of them they basically i don't know why it's got to go together look at code you know people programming computer programs there's a very high percentage of adhd and um or autism in computer coding because they have the right minds for it yeah and you know there is there are all sorts of things and i hope this gets becomes more mainstream you know yep yep exactly well yeah so adhd uh a business superpower it can be a superpower but you have to learn how to manage it and control it so max is the guy to help you with that so thank you so much max for coming on the show today it's been such a pleasure and what a great conversation we've had thank you so much for having me and thank you for keeping me moving forwards with my procrastination i recommend thank you max thank you

2021-10-19 11:10

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