Free ADD Coach Training: 5 Short Weeks to a Major Shift

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Avoiding the Holes in the Road, # 2

Drawing of a businessman in a suit, carrying a briefcase, about to fall into a hole because he does not notice that the manhole cover has been left off the manhole (he is reading)

An Oldie but Goodie
Adaptation by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

 originally, Autobiography In Five Short Chapters
by Porsche Nelson (Al-Anon ACOA)
with gratitude to Glen Hogard for the source –
see his comment (below) for still more

This article is an ADD Coaching reframe of a story that has been passed around in productivity circles for years — you may have heard it with “5 Chapters” instead of “5 Weeks.”

With a few tweaks, it’s not only a great training tool, it is a perfect illustration of the dynamic in an effective ADD Coaching relationship.

Free Coach Training:

There’s a lot to Sherlock in the extremely short story below — including a clear demonstration of a couple of the big differences between ADD Coaching technique and what I refer to as “vanilla” coaching technique (where the clients are “unflavored” by Attentional Spectrum concerns).  Clear, that is, if you understand the implications of what you’re seeing.

Pay attention to the “client/coach” interaction – to what’s NOT said as well as what IS.

At the end of this article (following the definition of one of the potentially unfamiliar terms used in the story) are links to some articles that will underscore the differences more overtly. Once you’ve read those explanations, come back and read through the (short) story below a second time.

CLICK HERE if you are curious about Avoiding the Holes in the Road #1

BY THE WAY: If you will take the time to actually DO this, following each of the links, reading and thinking about the content, you will have received a great deal of ADD Coach training material, some proprietary  — for which others (prorated appropriately) paid well over a thousand dollars to receive live and in course manuals, as only part of their ADD Coach Training Curriculum.
If you’d like my private (or group) coaching/mentor coaching help with anything that comes up while you are reading this material (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), click the E-me link  <—here (or on the menubar at the top of every page) and I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Self Quiz

  • What did you learn?
  • In what ways might it change how you coach to make you more effective?
  • How will you implement what you learned in ways that will benefit your clients?

I’d LOVE to hear your comments.

And NOW, for that quick coaching story . . .

5 Short Weeks to a Major Shift

Week 1

I’m late to a birthday party for one of my very best friends.  I rush down a street and trip over a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in.

It takes forever to get out. I’m even later. The present is crushed.  I’ll have to buy another.

While, it’s not really my fault, it IS true that I wasn’t paying close enough attention to where I was walking.

The birthday girl asks me why this kind of thing always happens to me.
“Just lucky!” I reply with a grin, as I brush dust and dirt off my clothing
and explain about the present.

My ADD Coach asks me to calendar time to replace the present and take the affected clothing to the dry cleaners.

Week 2

I stroll down the same street a week later. Appreciating the beauty of a fine fall day, I stumble into the hole again. It still takes a long time to get out.

This is not really my fault, somebody should have fixed this hole!

However, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to where I was walking, especially since this is the same street that caused a problem for me before.  Hmmmmm . . .

My ADD Coach reminds me to calendar time to replace the present and take the affected clothing to the dry cleaners.

Week 3

Taking a short-cut to a meeting, I turn down that same street. I fall in that darned hole again. And it still takes a long time to get out.

I arrive on-time, but dusty, dirty, stressed and defensive.
It’s becoming a habit. THIS is my fault.  I beat myself up for my carelessness.

My ADD Coach reminds me to calendar time to to take the newly soiled clothing to the dry cleaners.  She body doubles** me while I put the ticket and cash IN my wallet so that I can pick up the clothes from last week while I’m there — AND while I calendar time to purchase and deliver the birthday present to my friend.

Week 4

I walk down the same street, remembering to watch out for the deep hole in the sidewalk.
This time, I walk around it.

“Good for you,” says my ADD coach, “but what’s up with that street?”
YEAH!” I reply, “Somebody really should have fixed that hole by now!

Moving right along, my ADD Coach asks, “How did your friend like her present?” 

She body doubles me while I take the plastic bags off the dry cleaning, throw them in the trash, and hang all three sets of affected clothing back in my closet.

Week 5

I walk down a different street.

“NOW you’re starting to get it!” says my ADD Coach“Good job!”

“Are there any OTHER streets you need to avoid?”


What’s a Body Double?

Below comes from the upcoming Coaching Glossary, (c) Madelyn Griffith-Haynie

**Body Double: An ADD Coaching concept

A term coined by OFI Associate Linda Anderson, MCC, SCAC to refer to the phenomenon known to ADD Coaches and their clients where simply having another person in the room (or “observing” the process over the phone) helps the ADDer to focus on the task at hand.

It is important to note that the body double does not “help” – meaning he or she does NOT advise, disrupt concentration or comment outside of a structured, agreed upon set of circumstances.


  • An executive packing for a business trip has no trouble packing quickly when his wife sits in the room, yet agonizes for hours alone;
  • An ADDer who knows she has a tendency to hyperfocus to her own detriment fixes dinner for a friend in exchange for the friend’s services as her body double for a predetermined time on a project this ADDer has been avoiding.

The body double’s only tasks are agreed upon in advance: for example, to remind the ADDer to stop for periodic breaks, to take time to eat, or to stay hydrated.

Otherwise, the body double simply sits quietly in an out-of-the way space, reading or writing while the ADDer attends to her project — on task.

It is not unusual for an ADD Coach to serve as an in-session, charge-neutral, virtual body double for simple tasks, especially those that are not getting done, week after week. (related concept: JumpStarting)

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!"

6 Responses to Free ADD Coach Training: 5 Short Weeks to a Major Shift

  1. Good stuff. It is interesting to read comments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I agree that the comments are sometimes more enlightening than the articles, and I am dismayed by how few read them (or leave them). Sooooo glad to hear this from you. Don’t be shy about sharing what YOU do!

      btw: I have been at the ACO Conference [<==link] and *just* returned, playing catch-up as quickly as I am able – sorry for the delay in approval and response.

      For me, managing at a conference (especially when I am one of the presenters) takes ALL available cognitive bandwidth, so I have *finally* learned to set my systems up in accordance to what I know, avoiding that “failure feeling” most of us know so well by avoiding overpromising and the resultant underdelivering (at least where keeping up with the blog during a conference is concerned ::BIG grin::)

      Thanks again for ringing in — keep coming back, and don’t be shy about sharing YOUR expertise, even if you disagree with one or more of my assertions. I welcome with open arms ALL reports of functioning “causes and cures” for attentional dysregulations. (DO keep your links to one per comment or you’ll get spammed, however, no matter how helpful the links might have been. I can’t approve them if I don’t see them.)



  2. Glen Hogard says:

    Thank you Madelyn for formatting my response. It looks better with your formatting instead of a long comment. And thanks for the “horn tooting” for me. I’m not a modest person (Ha!) but I still feel a little uncomfortable with that. Still, there are so many crossovers from the “recovery” world to someone rebuilding their ADHD life that these analogies are very applicable. I keep saying, we need to work on the “brain-based” idea together.

    You and I are two trains traveling on parallel tracks in the same direction. Yet, we’re not in a race. We want to be engines pulling people into greater awareness of how to live better with ADHD or TBI brains. And what if they have both? I know about that one. How do you separate one from the other? That is where I am on my journey now. But at least you are writing about it. Very few others are.

    I still consider you my encyclopedia of all things brain/ADHD related. You, Kate, and Peggy, gave me a great start based on your OFI course. It “doesn’t step over anything.” As you used to teach us. I am so happy you are putting this information out there where everyone can access it 50 years from now. We are all in this little brain-based alphabet boat together.

    When you think the “senior” coaches who are leaders now, very few of them did not pass through those OFI doors. It was an honor to volunteer to be the “Dean of Students” to take some of that incredible load off your shoulders when I could and run the expert speakers series. I had fun and I learned how to stick to running a program on a regular basis.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glen Hogard says:

    IT’s true: Great minds do think alike! At least that’s what we tell ourselves when someone uses and idea we like. I used the same analogy adapted to ADHD coaches in my 2005 article “ADHD Coaching: A Thorny Rose”. It was written by Porsche Nelson and I first got it as a hand out in an ACOA meeting around 1986.

    I may have sent you my copy (in email?) or you may have gotten it elsewhere. Here was my coaching take on it. from my article. Originally published in Circle December 12th 2007, at, and re-posted by Terry Matlin at ADDconsults (search A Thorny Rose) a couple of months later.

    “ADHD coaches could be compared to navigators, showing people where the holes in the sidewalk lie. Coaches teach people how to avoid those holes and, at the same time, facilitate the choice to take a different route–hopefully one that’s been recently paved.

    This does not mean ignore the holes. Coaches must teach clients how to navigate through life in a way that avoids becoming trapped in them by making bad choices or getting bad results, things like losing a job or a spouse, engaging in impulsive actions like overspending or committing crime, etc.”

    by ADD Coach Glen Hogard, SCAC (mgh note: former Dean of Students at OFI and ACO co-founder)

    Here is the original from Al-Anon ACOA.

    Autobiography In Five Short Chapters by Porsche Nelson

    Chapter 1. I walk down the street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost – I am helpless – it isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

    Chapter 2. I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place. But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

    Chapter 3. I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall In. It’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

    Chapter 4. I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

    Chapter 5. I walk down another street.


    • Hey Glen –

      Thanks for the source! I actually prepared this article as a “show and tell” exercise for use on last night’s ADD and the Spirit Coach Training skills class. Searching the ‘net for attribution of the original, I came across site after site with only “source unknown” or “author unknown” until I ran out of time and had to move on – requesting help IN the post itself for anyone who knew the source to please clue me in. GLEN to the rescue!

      Pardon my rushed tone, btw — Thursdays are my busiest days anyway (exacerbated strongly right NOW by Kate’s passing), but I did want to take the time to feature your comment, and to respond in SOME fashion.

      BTW – in the time it has taken me to format your comment in dribs and drabs of time between calls (to better highlight your text, adding a bit of “who you are” for those who don’t know you, and a few links to your citations) I have subsequently heard from another ADD Coach with a story of the original’s authorship. He tells of its creation by a participant in a live seminar in response to a question posed by the seminar leader (he’s looking for documentation, which I will also post if/when he finds.) So apparently, more than a few people find this story compelling.

      I was unaware of your great article when I created this post. I have subsequently searched through the email file on my hardrive bak to find you DID, in fact, send me a copy. I’m embarrassed to admit that, for whatever busy-ness that kept me from going through all my email at that time (December 7th, 2007 at 4:40 pm, according to the timestamp), I never read it (or it never made it into long-term memory, in any case).

      And that’s a crying shame, because it was a SUPER article. Please accept my sincere apologies for any hurt feelings that resulted from lack of feedback on my part almost five years ago now.

      I’m hoping you will agree that it’s better [extremely] late than never – so here’s what I propose —

      I just copied the entire text of your emailed article into a draft here on With your permission, I will post it once I have time to format it as a guest post by you, link it to the article above, to your other guest post, as well as to your name in the dropdown menu of guest posters (and to the other places it has posted, if you choose and if they are still “live”)


      Peggy and I are leaving crack-of-dawn e-a-r-l-y tomorrow for a memorial planning weekend in a cabin Michelle has rented “in the woods” where cellphone and/or i-net reception is iffy (I have an HOUR to pack before P. arrives to pick up suitcase and moi – since, as you know, I don’t wake to sound, so I will need to spend the nite there so she can rouse me).

      All that to say this: let me know by comment or private email if above works for you – AND I’ll need an updated bio with contacts (I KNOW the info on the email is not current).

      On my return, sometime Monday (or Tuesday, if life continues to be MY life! :|) I will make sure to get it up and linked, so that EVERYONE gets the benefit of your SUPER take (much better than mine, IMHO!)

      Let me know.



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