3 - Character Defects of the ADD - Unreliable, Late, Inconsistent
Anyone who lives or works with an ADD has found them, from time to time, to be unreliable, inconsistent performers, and late. For non-ADD sufferers, the ADD appears inconsiderate, irresponsible, and immature. However, these are not character defects but rather reflect a mind which is focused on NOW. You want an ADD with you in a foxhole, on a help desk, on the playing field, in the woods, navigating a strange land, or leading a clamoring group of people - we are finely attuned to our changing environment, sensitive to what others are feeling or thinking, and always dreaming about how we can make our present situation better.
The problem is, most of modern life isn't like that. Modern life is sitting, writing, and admin work. There is physical labor, but that doesn't challenge the brilliant, speedy mind of the ADD. So, despite their weaknesses, because of their intelligence and leadership skills, they get inserted into the modern educational system and workforce in roles that are not well-suited to their strengths.
At the core of the differences is TIME. To ADDs, we are in the present. Others are in the present, too, but in context with the rest of time - past, present and future. Time is a modern concept, after all, and tracking it in detail wasn't useful until modern economies developed.
The rest of the world views time and deadlines within a logical and rigid structure that makes total sense to them. But for me and many ADDs, time is very elastic. Next week is like next year. I can feel my anxiety rise when discussing long-range plans and logistics because it's all just a jumble of dates and time at some fictitious point.
Almost everyone experiences procrastination. In fact, procrastination is a rational choice; "it's a pretty day; I'll read that memo tonight," or "That project isn't due for a month. I'll start next week." People humorously see procrastination as a human experience. So, when I talk about how it affects ADDs, I get a response: "Everyone procrastinates." That may be true, but for the ADD, time elasticity intersects with a general reluctance to do things that require a great deal of attention. This is further complicated by the difficulty time elasticity imposes on estimating how long it will take to do something. Finally, ADDs have good days and bad days. If the deadline falls on a day when your bio-energy level is low, the quantity of effort it takes to get something done is too great to overcome all these factors.
That assignment is NOT going to get done on time. Or if it does, it's not representative of anyone's best effort.
This is why ADDs are seen as unreliable. This is why we are late. It's not procrastination; it's brinksmanship. We didn't see the problem until the last minute. In my case, I often have to have something on fire to find the motivation to finish it. NOW that boring project is NERVE-WRACKING, and it has ALL of my attention. My wife will say that I create emergencies so that I can work effectively.
This is not fun to experience for the people around us; our co-workers, business partners, and clients.
Understanding Time Elasticity for the ADD
For me and many ADDs, tomorrow is a long way away. For normal people, tomorrow is another day, and each subsequent day is an equal distance, extending into logical sections of weeks and months. For the person suffering from time elasticity, though, tomorrow is TOMORROW, but so is the next day and the following month. Furthermore, because of this elasticity, I have difficulty estimating how long it will take me to get something done.