To much of the ADHD community, Michael Phelps’s phenomenal swimming at the Bejing Summer Olympics is a beacon of pride and hope. For all the advances in diagnosing and treating ADHD, it remains greatly stigmatized. In chat rooms and bulletin boards people post items like “ADHD is not a disability” as a way of giving support to those who are living with it. Yet, after we watch Michael Phelps, his fierce determination and single-minded focus, it is clear that even the name Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder falls short in describing just what ADHD is. Clearly Michael Phelps has no shortage of attention!
Many people have no idea that Michael Phelps has ADHD, yet he hasn’t kept it a secret. In an August 13, 2008 TimesOnline article, his mother is quoted as saying, “In kindergarten I was told by his teacher, ‘Michael can’t sit still, Michael can’t be quiet, Michael can’t focus.’ I said, maybe he’s bored. The teacher said that was impossible. “He’s not gifted,” came back the reply. “Your son will never be able to focus on anything.”
How many people with ADHD are told just that – you’ll never be able to focus on anything! Obviously after Michael Phelps’s summer of 2008 performance, it’s clear that ADHD does not have to stop you from focusing on and reaching your dreams.
Today let’s take a page from Michael’s book and channel our passions. If we do, imagine what we can accomplish. As his coach, Bob Bowman, says, “One of the things I call Michael is the motivation machine. Bad moods, good moods, he channels everything for gain. He’s motivated by success, he loves to swim fast and when he does that he goes back and trains better. He’s motivated by failure, by money, by people saying things about him … just anything that comes along he turns into a reason to train harder, swim better. Channeling his energy is one of his greatest attributes.”
Congratulations Michael on your gold bonanza. And thank you for providing the ADHD community a role model that shatters all of our sterotypes!
Now it’s your turn, what motivates you to succeed?
Jan 2011 Update:
Sometimes it’s the “little” people who are ADHD heros. We salute Edge coaching client, Rory Manson, who talked with CNN about how ADHD coaching has helped her succeed in school. Her hope is by sharing her story, other students with ADHD will see how getting a coach can help them succeed and reach their goals.