If you think that ADHD has had a bad press, you are right! The problem is that there is far too much emphasis on the problems with ADHD such as inattention, lack of focus, distraction, fidgeting and hyperactivity, just to mention a few. But while millions of people struggle to cope, adapt and just learn to live with it, there are many famous ADHD celebrities who have actually had enormous success.
In many cases, they have been able to exploit their condition which has helped, rather than hindered them. It has been estimated that adults with ADHD are 300% more likely to run their own business or create a start-up. There are athletes, actors, TV personalities and musicians who will inspire you and your kids with their success. These are role models to follow to help you and your kids reach their full potential. Here are 10 celebrities who have ADHD and have never looked back.
Top 9 Celebrities Have ADHD
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1. Will Smith
Nobody knows better about the power of laughter and a good joke or prank than Will Smith. He often describes himself as “the fun one who had trouble paying attention.” Immensely popular as an actor and director, it is no surprise to learn that his Facebook page has almost 76 million likes. ADHD kids and people are really enjoyable and fun to have around. That can lighten any day. After all, life is for living now and is not always the tragedy we tend to make of it. Watch the video below where Will Smith talks about the incredible energy that he had (thanks to his ADHD!) which really helped him at school. He also talks about how he used the challenges he had to his advantage.
2. Michael Phelps
The great Olympic champion found that he had enormous energy (all part of the ADHD package) and he was able to channel that energy into swimming and the medals speak volumes for the success he has achieved. Holding 13 world records is an incredible feat, by any standards. Michael’s mother has said that swimming and other sports were the only way she could wear him down and get a bit of rest! Now, channelling all that energy ADHDers have into an activity they are passionate about may bring amazing results.
3. Albert Einstein
“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
Disorganized, day dreaming and impulsive? These are classic symptoms of ADHD as we all know but they have served creative people very well, for example Albert Einstein. If he had been organized and methodical then I doubt if he would ever have created the theory of relativity. It is these out of the box thinkers who have revolutionized science, math and the arts.
The problem with ADHD to-day is that our society is far too demanding and in a very limited way. Organization counts more than creativity and this leads to anxiety and that is a great pity. We need to allow ADHDers to exploit their creativity but it is neither easy nor practical, for the reasons I have mentioned above.
4. David Neeleman
Did you know that the ultra successful businessman and founder of JetBlue, David Neeleman, also has ADHD? The incredible thing is that a person with ADHD can often home in on a solution while the rest of us are scratching our heads in puzzlement. They seem to have a combination of intuition and intelligence which leads to a solution. This is why they are so great at problem solving. David has given a very clear explanation of this wonderful gift:
“I can distill complicated facts and come up with simple solutions. I can look out on an industry with all kinds of problems and say, ‘How can I do this better?’ My ADD brain naturally searches for better ways of doing things.” – David Neeleman
5. Ingvar Kamprad
This man became famous because he founded IKEA. Ingvar not only had ADHD but was also dyslexic but that did not stop him at all. In fact, the name IKEA comes from the two initials of his name, IK, and also the first two letters of Elmtaryd, the family farm where he was born, and the nearby village Agunnaryd. But he had problems in remembering the code numbers of his furniture products so he has called them after Swedish villages which are much easier to remember. A wonderful example of using a handicap in a creative way!
Another aspect of his genius is that he was typical of people with ADHD in that he was prepared to take a risk in his business. The idea of customers buying flatpacks and then assembling them at home was ingenious. It cut costs right down and enabled the company to produce economical and elegant furniture. He was able to seize an opportunity rather than sit around analyzing all the risks. This is another typical trait of people with ADHD.
6. Richard Branson
Of the famous ADHD celebrities Richard Branson is regarded as being incredibly successful. One of the reasons for this is that his ADHD allows him to multi-task effectively. As people with ADHD just love to flit from one thing to another, they will thrive on this type of activity. This is one of the reasons why setting up a start-up is ideal for a person with ADHD. There is so much to be done and so much juggling to do that this multi-tasking is the only way. In addition, as there is usually no one else to help at the beginning, it is actually the only way to success.
Did you know that doing a secondary task such as fidgeting or doodling will actually help a person with ADHD to focus even more? This is why educationalists are recommending Swiss balls as seating for kids with ADHD at school. That secondary movement such as balancing on the ball will help them to pay more attention.
7. Dustin Hoffman
People with ADHD will really stick to the challenge and will persist until it is finished. This was also mentioned by Will Smith in the video above. Our society is obsessed with meeting deadlines, being punctual and being tidy. But people with ADHD, while not doing brilliantly on these tasks, do however have one great advantage over the rest of society. They will finish something they have started and will also keep on trying until they win.
“In my room as a kid…. I’d play a fighter and get knocked to the floor and come back to win.”- Dustin Hoffman
8. Ty Pennington
Because he has ADHD, Ty felt that his confidence at school was undermined. Why? The reason is that teachers were, as usual, obsessed with formal learning and rather rigid mindsets. Because he was always treated as if he were different in the classroom, he was not able to concentrate on the joy of learning or the enthusiasm that comes from discovering new knowledge. So, his confidence was undermined. It was only when he left school that he was able to explore his talents and skills, restore his confidence and also to forget the awkward ADHD label.
9. Edward Hallowell
Dr. Edward Hallowell is a world renowned expert on ADHD and has the disorder himself so he knows what he is talking about! He often talks about the importance of finding support and encouragement from loved ones, family members and friends. The one thing that ADHD people have in abundance is their extreme sensitivity, both physical and emotional. This makes you a better partner and colleague straight away if you have ADHD, so go for it! Sensitive people are easier to live with and also to work with. They will also be more empathetic in this age of super communication. Being connected is not enough- the key is being able to maintain close and supportive relationships. This is so important. Dr. Hallowell summed it up perfectly:
“Never before has it been so easy to stay in touch with so many people electronically, but rarely has it seemed so difficult to maintain genuine human closeness.”- Dr. Edward Hallowell
As these famous ADHD celebrities have shown us, there are a lot of positive aspects of ADHD which are often ignored or just not mentioned often enough. I hope that this post has done something to set the balance right.
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