An ADHD Productivity Tool: REBEL and Exposure to New Experiences

Episode 74

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This week Cam and Shelly continue their discussion on competence and confidence diving into Cam’s productivity tool REBEL by taking a closer look at the second E and Exposure to New Experiences.

Exposure to New Experiences is at the heart of the work we do as ADHD coaches. When our clients commit to actions in coaching it is an opportunity to test and try and to be exposed to new and different experiences, regardless of the outcome of the action. This is the learning action model we talk about on the show: building knowledge of of the self and one’s uniquely wired brain over time to create lasting change.

The REBEL model:
Remember to remind the brain
Expand the mind
Balanced Attack
Exposure to time, to new experiences
Limit scope, start with what you know

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Episode Transcript:

Shelly: [00:00:00] Hi, I’m Shelly. (And I’m Cam.) And this is Translating ADHD. This week. We are going to wrap up our series on the rebel acronym by continuing the conversation about the last E talking about exposure to new experiences. Cam, this actually came up in the Q&A that we do with our Discord community. I was hosting this month’s Q&A last Thursday.

And it was interesting to me how this topic came up, because someone in the community was describing doing their own learning action work and having a different outcome. And even though the task that they didn’t like doing was still something that they didn’t like to do, their noticing was when they did it consistently, that outcome was such a reward that they could anchor the behavior to that.

And so the way that I see it is exposure to new experiences is really the crux of this learning action model that we talk about on the show and that we do as coaches with our clients each week. What do you think about that?

Cam: [00:01:22] Absolutely. That’s why REBEL works so well that it’s sort of like, as you consider one of the elements, it draws in another element in the sense of Balanced Attack and Expand the Mind and how coaching is such a great fit for ADHD.

Coaching is not for everyone, but this is exactly where ADHD has breakdown points is between these experiences we’ll have the experience, but won’t collect the data from that experience and draw it forward with us. We talk about the card catalog in our Mount Rainier model. As we are having our experiences, we are gaining knowledge.

And then putting this information in our card catalog, but then that card catalog, we can set it aside. We can forget that we have it. We can forget to access it and pulling that information forward is so important in coaching. This is what we do in a really safe and supportive environment. It’s a chance to test and try and to be exposed to new experiences and different experiences.

With ADHD, we tend to get into a rut. We get into a mode a way that often feels comfortable. We’ll just sort of fall into this mode. Not recognizing there’s another mode out there. Last week we talked about time and time blindness versus time awareness. We don’t know the value of time. We don’t see time because it’s like right next door, but it’s that nuanced signal we talked about.

Shelly: [00:03:02] Cam, you talk about falling into these comfortable ruts. And I’m realizing that when my clients come to me, when they come to coaching it’s because those old patterns are no longer comfortable. They are no longer serving them. So it’s starting to recognize that riding the ARC pony or the interest based pony.

You know, the things that in the past they could rely on. They could dip into that urgency elixir or dip into hyper-focus. Those things alone are no longer getting them where they ultimately want to go.

Cam: [00:03:39] This hearkens back to this whole idea of readiness for change. Right? This is episode number, I don’t know, two, maybe two or three right before the ARC episode is readiness for change.

And I really appreciate you saying that is that those modes are no longer working. This is a part of an acceptance thing. So I teach a fair number of classes to new coaches, and I tell my students, people call you up. They’re not coming for ADHD coaching. They’re not coming to address the ADHD. They’re not coming for coaching.

What they’re coming for is. They’re coming for you to help them address this pain point. I have a dilemma and I can’t solve it myself. And with that comes a lot about maybe some shame, some guilt, a whole host of complicated, complex emotions around that. And so it’s our job as coaches to come back to and point out, where does the ADHD show up and to model and teach this whole coaching process. They’re not coming to be partners, they’re coming to solve their dilemma, but when you show them this model of partnership and an action learning model, we develop these experiments, this field work, where you go out, have a slightly different experience, be open to different outcomes is in itself a new and different experience.

Come back and share your experience. We’re building these muscles where they’ve not been developed because of those modes that we tend to fall into.

Shelly: [00:05:28] Something I want to throw in here. What you just said about the typical coaching client is very true, but it’s not true for listeners of this show. My clients who come to me through this podcast are ready to talk about ADHD and are ready to do that partnership work.

And I think that that speaks volumes about what we’re doing here and the new awareness that we’re creating for our listeners. It’s just such a cool phenomenon and something I’d like to see more of. Ultimately I’d like more ADHD people to be ready to have that conversation, but in general, you’re right.

They come with a dilemma. My old ways are not working for me. My old patterns are not working for me, but I don’t know how to do it differently. And when I’ve tried prescriptive behavior based solutions, I’ve had little to no success. So what makes the learning action model different here? Well, one, the learning action model has no judgments.

I tell my clients when we design actions each week, so we come to coaching. We spend most of our time in learning, we’re trying to learn something new about their old experience, their old problem, the challenge at hand, the topic that we’re working on their ADHD. And based on that learning, we design actions.

Sometimes they go really well. Sometimes they go really poorly and sometimes it’s a mixed bag, but either way, it doesn’t matter and care about the outcome. I care about the rich learning, because what ever the outcome was, if the client made a real attempt at those actions based on our learning, whatever there is to learn next, based on that attempt is going to get us closer to the change that they’re trying to create.

Cam: [00:07:17] So nicely said, you know, last week I brought up this whole idea of interest based attention system. And by the way, a little side note, I love it when I do a rant, which I did at rant and I get it wrong.

I love that. I love it because it shows how imperfect we are. I am. And it’s okay. Life goes on. So last week I was talking about interest based attention system and putting in signal based attention system. And I got it wrong. Of course. Right. I go back and like, ah, geez, it’s not interest based attention system.

It’s William Dodson talks about interest based nervous system. It is different. There’s a difference there. I still think that the point that we were making last week is still relevant. That we have this signal based nervous system that we are drawn to the biggest signals. And we are repelled by the biggest signals.

What we’re talking about here. As we practice with our clients, we are developing a whole nother signal system outside of the deep limbic. Outside of the fight flight urgency center that cranks up the adrenaline, that whole ARC cycle, when we model and we ask our clients to develop the keen observer, we reserve judgment.

Curiosity is a new signal that when we look at something that’s confusing and hard to see like time and we look at it with curiosity, we start to produce new signals in the brain. And at first they’re very small, but with time, in a sense, I’ve become a student of time. I can actually say this with confidence. I’ve become a student of completion and accountability. Actually written a book on accountability.

There was a time when I didn’t understand what it was because I couldn’t see it. You can’t see it. You can’t appreciate it, but in coaching, and coaching, doesn’t have the complete hold on this, but the model does allow for this cultivation of signals in other parts of the brain, other than the deep limbic.

Shelly: [00:09:41] I see the role of coaching and the role of this podcast as teaching new skills. And it’s interesting to say that because that’s not what I thought coaching was when I first became a coach. One of the tenants of professional organizing is skill transfer, teaching organizing skills to a client. So you’re not just leaving an organized space, you’re leaving a space that that client can maintain. We’re doing the same thing in coaching.

One of the coolest things that happens with a new client is that place where they start to have curiosity outside of our sessions. They start to employ that keen observer and have really important insights.

The client that I talked about last week with the surfing and the behavior change around that. We came to a really good place in that first session with his behavior around surfing and as coach, I would have thought we were done with that topic based on what he was reporting in this subsequent session, but he was generating new awareness.

He was noticing that there was still behavior that he wanted to change there. And that was new for him. I don’t know about you Cam, but it’s one of my favorite things about coaching is when you start to see clients really be able to have that awareness outside of sessions, because I tell my clients, we got to celebrate that you had the awareness, even if you weren’t able to have a different outcome yet let’s stop and celebrate that you had the awareness that you were able to pause and notice and reflect and be curious because from there is the possibility to have a different outcome.

And having that awareness outside of our coaching sessions, without me there to guide it and draw it out of you is in and of itself a new experience.

Cam: [00:11:39] Right. So with ADHD, we tend to, the big brain manifestation tends to be kind of locked in, or the mode is in thinking thoughts and inaction. And the fast brain tends to be more inaction and less in thinking whether it’s planning or reflecting.

But over a period of time, I noticed with my clients is they start to appreciate the other and make forays into those areas, exposing themselves to these new experiences. Take our Mount Rainier that often when people hear it, the first time it’s hands up in the air, like what, what are you talking about?

What is this lunch counter thing? And how can it be a wall? It’s not appreciating cause and effect. But over time and listeners, longtime listeners, you’re appreciating this metaphor. You’re starting to take excursions up above the lunch counter, into causation and linking cause and effect. So this is learning.

This is applied learning, and now you’re a different person than you were before. So that’s change that’s growth. And that’s overcoming certain elements of ADHD because ADHD disrupts our ability to take learning and apply it forward consistently. Oh, this is so much fun today.

Shelly: [00:13:02] This is fun because this is at the heart of what we do.

And the more I do this work, the more my passion for it grows. Because I’ve gotten to see time and time again, how applying this model creates real change. There’s no better feeling as a coach than sending a client on their way, who has reached the natural conclusion of coaching because they’ve gotten what they needed because they now have the tools and the resources to go out into the world and continue the work because the work doesn’t end.

But they now know how to continue the work and they don’t necessarily need me to draw that learning out of them. They know how to get it. They know how to get the learning and apply it forward to new actions. And repeat that cycle again and again.

Cam: [00:13:55] Yeah. So let’s dig in a little bit with some specific examples around today’s topic of exposure to new and different experiences.

I want to tell a story about my initial experience with coaching because as I came out of teaching in 2003, I had a decision. It was sort of, I was going to work in adult education in some way. And I was looking at counseling programs and I was looking at coaching and I had a great model in Russell Culver, my own coach, what she was doing.

She was bringing ADHD, coaching to students at Duke university year, 2000. She was just way out there in front, but she was working with the coaches over at UNC. University of North Carolina, David Parker, Theresa Maitland. And they were just on the forefront of this. And this is 20 years ago, people. So I got into coaching and I enjoyed it, but there was this aspect that I couldn’t be with.

It was so uncomfortable, Shelly. And that was the whole selling part. I was not a sales guy. Remember, my classmates gave me a pair of Armani socks to like, Hey, you know, assert a little bit, buddy. I was so not into that, that I would rebel and reject any way. So there was a game that we played, there was a game and I got, I’m just gonna do the west coast coaching.

It’s like, so we’re going to go out there and we’re going to go and get 10 nos. It’s go out there and work for 10 nos. And I’m like, what the hell? So the idea was to, if you expect a no, as it would you like to coach with me and the person says, no, you win the game, you score a point cause you got your no.

And the idea is that it’s sort of like to get you out of that comfort zone and just play the game. Well, a couple things, number one, I wasn’t about to do that because I was sort of, it was a value of mine to be authentic and honest. And that’s not being honest, but the other thing I realized was the thing that I couldn’t really be with was the possible rejection, going back to again, where I was at that point with my very low sense of self

I’m sure it was RSD. The sense of rejection. It was something I just couldn’t handle. I couldn’t go there. Here’s the thing though. So the new experience would be go and, and. Sell my services to enroll clients, to go get clients. That was the aspect that was really tough. And I tried all these different programs, but when it came to actually asking someone for the business, couldn’t do it.

The thing I couldn’t be with was the rejection or the perceived rejection. Now what I had to do first, though, up on Mount Rainier, above the lunch counter, is my giant collapsing device. It’s this thing that collapses, collapses my sense of self with the actual task or activity. I couldn’t distinguish myself from my offering.

And so that perception of the rejection was, Oh, they’re rejecting me in my entirety. And I just couldn’t be with that. That was too much of a signal mountain to climb. Didn’t want to go there, couldn’t go there. So I would rationalize and make excuses and stay away from that new experience. And until I was able to really start to separate and see, Oh, first of all, I’m not my offering to separate Cam from coaching and what I offer.

Number one. Number two is finding safe places like a bumping into people and accidentally, you know, like let’s do some coaching. Really? You want to coach with me? Like, I wouldn’t ask, starting to get that competence. I was like, hey, I’m not bad at this, but kept bumping into that and realizing that new experience, if I really carefully crafted what the field work or the experiment would be.

So it had to start with first, I had to separate myself from the actual offering and see it as, oh, when they say no, it’s just about the offering. It’s not about Cam, but that’s one where if you’re trying to offer something, finding a way to have a new experience there, rejection is something that happens. But if we can compartmentalize it. That it’s really just about letting people be able to say no, I wasn’t allowing people to say no. It was like, that’s crazy, but that’s where I was.

Shelly: [00:18:46] Cam, I so appreciate coming back to your journey as a coach again and again, because there’s always such rich learning there. And for my clients who are podcast listeners, I often bring that into our individual coaching sessions because it’s just, such a great example of you applying that learning action model over time in so many different ways, learning to complete, learning, to distinguish between that sense of self and your offering.

Those were important things that got you from where you started, when your wife asked you why there was no money in the bank account, to where you are now, successfully doing this coaching work. And so I’m going to throw it in an aside here, in my opinion, what makes you such a great coach. What makes me a great coach is the fact that we came to it doing our own work.

We’ve done this learning action work. I did it with Cam. Cam was my coach. And, there’s something really powerful about knowing the possibilities in coaching by having lived it. I believe in coaching, not because I’m a coach, not because I want people to buy my services, but because I saw the change that it created for me, and I’m now getting to see the change that it creates for my clients.

It just works. The learning action model works.

Cam: [00:20:23] No, it’s really interesting. You know what, one of my most enjoyable parts of my coaching now is like, again, just the whole process, most enjoyable part is that initial conversation. What I feared and again, viscerally just could not go to is now it’s amazing because I’ve realized that I’ve learned through experimentation. It’s a lot of empirical data, empirical data being at this information that I’ve accrued over years of time, along with that curiosity and coming to an inviting the potential client to be at choice. I model coaching right out of the gate and say, listen, I know that you have your goals and your needs, and you’ve reached out to me.

But let’s talk and really be a choice. I may be a good fit. I may not be. I work with a very specific group that I’m very successful with, but it’s a very specific group. And now I really see it as just a great opportunity for both of us to clarify what their needs are, what their goals for coaching are and what kind of coach, if it is coaching, it might not be coaching.

It might be some other thing that they need at this point. Whether it’s therapy, whether it’s business coaching, a business model consulting of some sort, but this distilling key elements and nuggets that they can take away, whether they work with me or not, we both walk away with new knowledge. And so that’s the sort of the fascinating thing that’s happened for me is it’s completely flipping that.

I would like to go a little more global in the last couple of minutes that we have to listeners, what can you do? What are areas where you can exercise, expose yourself to new and different experiences? We were talking about this before we started the call back to big brain and fast brain, that big brain presentation, the inattentive that you tend to be more in your thoughts and struggle.

With activation and engaging in action or engagement, that’s the place to play around, exposing yourself to new experiences around activation, finding ways, parking that car on the downhill slope, where we’ve talked about ways to set yourself up for activation.

 By the way, this is not like hitting the gym and like working hard, it’s bringing curiosity and creativity and choice to the matter. And these areas that you may be a little timid around for the fast brain. It’s you like to be in action. So it’s just a little bit of maybe planning and pre-thought before that action, as you said last week with your client of setting intention before jumping into the action.

And then for both big brain and fast brain that backside. The backside of activity, instead of going immediately to regret and like, oh boy, that could have been a lot different. There was a time Shelly, that, that mistake that I made last week that would have been crippling to me. Oh my God. I can’t believe I said interest-based attention system.

Oh my God, what are people thinking? What are they thinking? They must be thinking X, Y, and Z. Now it’s like, Oh, ha. It’s a little laugh. It’s a little, there you go. Funny thing. And the thing I’ve learned from you Shelly, your little isms, your little mantras, I wouldn’t say they’re little, by the way. I mean, they’re effective.

Your mantras. My mantra that I’ve learned is I get a do-over. I get a do-over. That’s what I’ve learned in all these years of going through this coaching process. I love the fact that you say we do our own work. You know, my coaches, Russell Culver, Hope Lagner, Peggy Raimondo. I want to build a monument to those women because they were there for me to support me in my learning, plus a plethora of other peers that I worked with.

Dave Bratton, Julie Nichols, back back in the day. To help me get to this place of exercising, this whole process of action learning action, learning action, learning linking cause and effect. But that whole idea of a do-over allowed me to realize, Oh, if I mess up, I can do this again. That’s that whole process thing, which like time, it’s a signal that’s hard to see.

It’s hard to appreciate. Processes, boundaries, time. There, all those little signals that live out of the deep limbic. So starting to plant on the slopes of Mount Rainier, cultivating some of these areas at first, you’re like you’re dismissive. Ack, time. I don’t do time. As you said last week. Ah, I’m bad at time.

I don’t get time. And then we just outright dismiss, circle back, consider plant something there. Practice something with a supportive individual who is going to support you and not judge.

Shelly: [00:25:37] Cam. I love I get a do-over. I will be adopting that and adding it to my wealth of mantras. And what I love about it is any success story you read or hear about, including Cam and I talking about ourselves on the podcast includes a lot of failure.

And most successful people will tell you that there is rich learning in failure if you look for it. But the thing I like about your mantra is it takes the sting out of the statement. It takes the failure word out. I get a do-over. So with my do-over, what do I want to learn from this experience to carry it forward?

Because the rich learning doesn’t just happen when things go right. There is equally, if not more rich learning when things don’t go the way we anticipated, when a client is sure that a set of actions that we’ve designed is just what they were looking for. And it doesn’t work at all. That’s where the richest learning is.

I think that’s a good place for us to wrap for today. So if you like what we’re doing here on the show, a couple of ways that you can help us out, the biggest one being, leave a review, wherever you listen to the show. Second way is to support the show financially by becoming a patron, you can visit the website,, click on the Patreon link in the upper right-hand corner. And for $5 a month, not only are you supporting the show, you gain access to our Discord community, where our listeners are working together to do their own understand, own, translate work. They’re forming accountability groups together. They’re celebrating their accomplishments together.

And once a month on the second Thursday of the month Cam, or I host a live Q&A for our Patreon community in the Discord server. So until next week I’m Shelly (and I’m Cam) and this was Translating ADHD.

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