How does the ADD brain process ideas?

For most people, ADD shows up in early childhood. You’re sitting in the car and start asking questions of whomever is driving. “Are we there yet?” “What makes the car run?” “Why do the clouds move?” and on and on, until you get some answers!

ADD can be a blessing and a curse. When you are asking that many questions (unless you happen to have a parent, guardian, or teacher in your life, who really understands how your ADD brain works), this behavior is usually interpreted as “obnoxious.”

I was the ADD kid who asked way too many questions. I was the ADD kid who was sent to the back of the room for asking too many questions! I don’t know about you, but for me, it was my brain, always trying to pick things apart, to figure out how things worked, and I had to know. My brain just wouldn’t let me rest, until I knew.

There is no doubt about it. The ADD mind is constantly thinking, constantly looking at things from different angles, and many with ADD have self-esteem issues because It’s hard to fit in with everybody else. This happens with kids, but it happens with ADD adults all the time, too. You’re in a situation where you’re asking lots of questions, you’re trying to figure out how things work and why things work. One of the most common responses that people will snap at you is, “It just works that way. Just do it!”

There are a couple of reasons for that.

One is because if you’re in a group of people, who are embarrassed about asking a question, it makes them uncomfortable for you to do it. Another reason is because whenever you ask a question, you’re pulling things off track. When you’re the only one with ADD and you’re dealing with a room full of linear thinkers, guess what? You make them uncomfortable and they get frustrated!


Asking questions is a tremendously powerful thing, and is something powerful about ADD. For example, my grandfather was an inventor. He invented all sorts of things. He invented the filter in the World War II gas mask. He invented the original Wet Ones moist wipes. He was involved in inventing the first cigarette filter. Why? Because he asked more questions. He said, “How can this happen?” He was filled with ideas and always had unusual notions about different things. In his head, he questioned everything, and that’s where many of the best ideas come from. How do you find solutions to problems? The only way that happens is by asking questions that no one else will ask.

One of the most powerful principles of dealing with ADD I’ve ever taught goes like this: When you implement an idea and complete it, start to finish, it is 1,000 times more beneficial than having 100 brilliant ideas that are better.

Let me explain.

Going through all the steps of putting a crappy idea into practice is exponentially more valuable than having 100 million-dollar ideas. The reason is because you learn more from putting something into practice than you learn from coming up with new ideas. The cool part is that after you put everything about that one idea into practice, the quality of your new ideas is exponentially greater than your old million-dollar ideas. Instead of having million-dollar ideas, now you’re going to have $5 million or $10 million ideas simply because you put one idea fully into practice.

Put your ADD-induced ideas into a funnel so that they accomplish one goal. Just remember that the quality of the ideas you have today are nothing in comparison to the quality of the ideas you’re going to have a month from now, after you’ve implemented just one of them. And when you think about famous people with ADD, think about Albert Einstein. When it comes to ADD or asking lots of questions, he’s at the very top of the list.