If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t blame the foot!

ADDvice Gone Bad

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the Coaching Series

How come nobody asks US?

Isn’t it amazing how many times we’ve been urged to TRY HARDER, to do life better-faster-slower-different – before anyone has really listened to what WE have to say about why it isn’t getting done in an expected fashion?

We wouldn’t dream of asking a child with poor vision to squint her way into focus, yet many of the things asked of us (and that, by extension, we expect ourselves to be able to do) are equally, ridiculously impossible.

As we work together to develop ways to help you
get things done,
let’s start by distinguishing can’t from won’t.

REGARDLESS of what you hear – or have heard – from the ADD/EFD-clue-free:

As you begin working your way through this site, unless you have a solid sense of a belief or a block that is keeping a won’t in place, it will be MUCH more effective to assume that the things you say you want to accomplish but aren’t getting done are can’ts.  

If we start THERE, we can turn those can’ts into CANs.

Remember that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

HOVER before clicking – often a box will appear to tell you what to expect

If I had a hammer . . .

One of my favorite sayings is the one that goes:

If all you’ve got’s a hammer,
everything’s a nail.

ADD or EFD affect is neurological, NOT psychological!

As long as those around us insist on looking for conflicts, blocks, resistance, lack of motivation, or procrastination to find an explanation for why something we were supposed to do didn’t get done in the expected manner, that’s exactly what they’re going to see.

A screw looks a lot like a nail, too unless you have the distinctionscrewdriver.”

Distinguishing to Reframe

A lot of things look different once you have the distinction “ADD” (or EFD, or any of the other names for/types of alphabet disorders— and I ask that you think of them as distinctions, not labels.

For Example . . .

Coordinating clothing by color to put together an outfit that doesn’t look “off” is an extremely frustrating experience for a teenager who doesn’t seem to differentiate between brown, green and some shades of gray.

Try as he might . . .

  • Some days he gets lucky  (See, he CAN do it when he really tries!?)
  • Most days he looks as if he got dressed in the dark.

Other than chronic carelessness or deliberate misbehavior, we can’t seem to come up with a rational explanation for why he can’t (or won’t?) accomplish the task effectively — until we have the distinction “color-blind.”

Once we understand what is going on, we become aware of a whole new list of possibilities for dressing in coordinated colors — none of which have anything to do with how we were trying to do it before.

AND, by the way, debating the pros and cons of labeling
the boy “color blind” is a total waste of everybody’s time.

Let’s look anew at everything

In brain-based ADD coaching, we sherlock reasons for behavior, not excuses for oopses.

Once we find out why something is difficult, we’re half way to the new list of possibilities for getting it done — none of which have anything to do with how you were trying to do it before.

An Important Shift

One of the key shifts in ADD Coaching is from
expections-of-failure TO expectations-of-success.

To seed that shift, we are going to throw out all of the old thoughts about resistance, self-sabotage, fear-of-failure, lack of motivation, laziness, or incompetence.

We are going to replace those cruel and most-likely inaccurate judgments and shoulds with the conviction that you actually do intend to do everything you say that you want to do.  If something gets in the way, we are going to assume its “an ADD/EFD thing,” not a failure of moral character or an unconscious psychological conflict.

Don’t worry — you’ll find out soon enough if you’ve made the wrong assumption. 

In that unlikely event, you will have succeeded in identifying an area for you to work on with your therapist.

  • In my twenty-five years of experience, however, almost all of the areas ADD/EFDers have been working on with little or no success fail to respond because they are using the wrong tools.
  • It is also my experience that they respond relatively rapidly once we use the right ones.

The three most effective tools for ADD/EFD challenges are:

  1. Brain-based information
  2. Sherlocking,  and
  3. Systematizing

Working these Steps

1 – The first step will be to make sure you understand all the nuances of your particular flavor of ADD, EFD, or whatever is going on with you.

2 – The second step will be to Sherlock the reasons that you get stuck: where, exactly, the breakdown occurs.

3 – Then we’ll develop work-arounds that we can expand into a systematized pattern of behavior that can become habitual — to minimize the cognitive drag and distraction potential that we citizens of Alphabet City know is continually lurking, just waiting to trip us up!

THIS makes the single biggest difference:

Whenever something isn’t working, we are going to assume we haven’t found the right fit for your unique profile of ADD/EFD Challenges yet, NOT that you’re not trying hard enough, or that there is some secondary gain in continuing to fail!

We’ll re-sherlock, re-define, and re-systematize until we figure it out.  How will we know?

You’ll get things done!

Your foot is NOT too big for the shoe
— it’s the wrong shoe for your foot!


© 1993, 1999, 2011 – 2013, 2016, 2017, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”
(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)

Shared on the Senior Salon

 This article is an edited repost of one posted at ADDCoach.com in the mid-90’s. Another version of this article was part of the Welcome Newsletter I sent to new clients while waiting for their first month’s coaching payment to arrive. (Thanks to PayPal, no more waiting!)

COACHING LINKS at end of all posts

Related articles here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com

Some ADD Advocacy Posts for Motivation toward change

Check out these articles ’round the ‘net

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!"

28 Responses to If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t blame the foot!

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  4. Osyth says:

    What I really love about you is your use of venacular and accesible language to get the points across – it makes you so readable and as we read we learn (in my case we tick mental boxes that yup – that’s me and oh … I could do that). Really you are a superstar!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really need to stop to put my recenty arrived cartridge into my laser, PRINT this comment and pop it in a frame. You made my night. Thank you.
      xx, mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Osyth says:

        Oh please do! Another blogger I follow has a vintage typewriter and she types out lovely comments and pins them up. I am very glad to bring you a smile – it is wholly deserved 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • I love that blogger’s approach – even though I’d use my printer. How old is this vintage typewriter, do you know? I’d love to have a mechanical that is way older than the early electrics that “the kids” call vintage. (I think some of the college students in my nabe would consider my computer and keyboard “vintage” lol) 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Osyth says:

            I would think it is 1960s or 70s – it’s very cute … she sometimes posts pictures of it and it is clearly very dear to her. My husband had a real antique dating from the 1880s but unfortunately it was stolen about 4 years ago. I have been searching for a replacement ever since. He bought it when he was a student (is a man who seldom buys things for himself) just because he liked it – he couldn’t even type but the mechanism fascinated him. I think you should find one for yourself – search Etsy or Ebay I’m sure there is one with your name on it! Xx

            Liked by 1 person

            • How sad that someone stole your husband’s typewriter. From your home, or had he taken it to an office? I hope the thief pays dearly in karma coin. Did you check the pawn shops?

              As for me, I adore the idea of one, but I’m in the downsizing phase of my life, so I’m not allowing myself to buy *anything* I don’t absolutely need anymore, as I slowly get rid of possessions I’m not absolutely in love with. I’m hoping that any remaining relocations will not be as physically challenging as all the ones that came before.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Osyth says:

              It was his stepson. It’s a tawdry and horrible tale of the greed of another. How interesting that after you ask the question you have filled me in on your own de-cluttering. The protagonist (his first wife who left him for her lover and proceeded to take everything and clearly remembered the typewriter some time later and sent her foolish henchman to take it) has, it would seem, a house stuffed to the gunnels with things and doesn’t even live there. My husband was left with virtually nothing but he knows what love is and that is far more important than a typewriter can ever be! I could write a book on this one …. xx

              Liked by 1 person

            • WOW! I’m so glad he found someone like you after that horrible experience. It’s hard to believe the greed of some people – and to involve her son is unconscionable. I’m so sorry that both of you have this memory. Hang tight to love!

              Liked by 1 person

            • Osyth says:

              I get very curious looks for my attestation that love really IS all we need if we let it be but I do believe it. It is the foundation stone, the bedrock of everything. Swathed in love we are stronger, more capable than we can ever be when denied it. Xx

              Liked by 1 person

  5. robjodiefilogomo says:

    What a fabulous way to put this Madelyn!!
    I can see why you are so successful in what you do. It makes perfect sense to figure out the why first. (It reminds me of a time at my office, when a younger assistant was trying to explain something to a patient. She kept repeating the same thing over and over but louder each time. Finally I came in and explained it differently. She misunderstood his not understanding as not hearing, where it was really the explanation).
    ps…I sent you an email as a follow up to our conversation!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very nice compliment for an older article, Jodi – thanks! I keep trying to loosen judgment’s hold on the minds of those who are struggling. If I can change the perception of a few “vanilla-brains” while I’m at it, so much the better.

      My Dad tells a funny story about his early schooling and, “The verb ‘to-be’ takes no object.” His teacher simply didn’t get that her students had no idea what that meant, as she repeated it over and over and over – and wrote it at the top of their papers. ONLY when my Dad, an excellent student, bravely took his paper to her desk and asked to be shown exactly where he had used ‘to be’ did she stop to explain to the class in depth.

      She didn’t do the louder thing, tho’ I hate that – even on cell phones. When asked to repeat, use different words (good for your brain – lol)

      Thanks for the heads up on the email, btw. I’ll search for it, but if it requires a long response, I’ll jot a few notes & leave you a voicemail to give my typing fingers a break! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Soul Gifts says:

    Such a wealth of information – thank you !

    Liked by 1 person

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