ADHD and Experimenting with Detaching From Outcome

Episode 163

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Ash and Cam bring the conversation down to earth from last week’s big picture view on journey thinking and detaching from outcome. Chasing big signal items like drama, shiny objects or avoiding conflict has us beholden to the Adrenaline Response Cycle of delay, hyper-focus, crash, recovery. This is often fueled by destination thinking and attaching to outcomes. Both Ash and Cam bring in examples of where clients design their own practices or experiments to limit ARC-fueled behaviors.

Cam talks about how in coaching we look at behaviors that are not working prior to building new behaviors. He shares an example where a client wants to have less of an emotional experience, specifically FOMO or fear of missing out, while he day-trades stocks. Key to the experience are guidelines or rules of engagement and identifying the learning opportunity. The learning opportunity in this experiment is to bring the Keen Observer to his own emotional experience and see what big signal he is attached to. ADHD executive function challenges make it very difficult to let go or release a thought or belief or some picture of an outcome. The client over a period of experiments was able to generate new awareness and pull the learning forward into how he shows up at work, addressing two of the three barriers of ADHD (See below for link). Ash illustrates how a liability like emotional lability can be turned into a strength like empathy or intuition – that they can be two sides of the same coin. The hosts leave listeners with some places to start looking at building experiments of their own.

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Episode Transcript:

[00:00:00] Ash: Hi, I am Ash.

[00:00:01] Cam: And I’m Cam.

[00:00:02] Ash: And this is Translating ADHD. Quick reminder that we have two group coaching courses that are open for registration now. Project X begins Tuesday, April 11th and meets at 8:30 PM on Tuesdays. Equanimity, which is a course with Cam, begins Tuesday, March 28th and meets at 1:00 PM Eastern on Tuesdays.

For information about these courses, including pricing and how to apply, visit the website and click on the group coaching tab. So Cam, we took a foray into Journey Thinking last week. Where are we taking that this week?

[00:00:46] Cam: Yeah, so we did the balloon metaphor. It’s the high contextual conversation that led into your sharing about your experience with journey thinking. And it was a process, right, to identify what was going on, the destination thinking that was happening. There are the, I gotta have X, Y, and Z in place before I can. So there’s that narrative. And in the background is that we don’t see what is really invisible is the ADHD at play. So it’s looking to see like, how can we reveal how the ADHD is showing up and informing, and this is this first barrier of ADHD, right? The three barriers, people, it’s awareness, action, and learning. And we’ll post the episodes that point to those three barriers.

So we went kind of high and we gave your example and starting to look at, okay, so how do we actually do this? How do we separate from destination thinking and start to move in this direction of, journey thinking and a journey mindset? And so I thought today would be a great idea to look at what one of my clients did and is doing to address this and what you said before the episode. Again, one of the dilemmas with ADHD is you don’t know what you don’t know, right? It’s that being on the front side of that first barrier of awareness.

This is what we call unconscious incompetence. We are not aware of what is happening, and that is uniquely ADHD. This is one of the biggest frustrations of ADHD. This is where I see it in couples and relationships and business partners of why do you keep doing this thing that gets us in trouble? Or why do you keep doing this thing that you know is wrong? and so there’s this, again, a point of drama and misunderstanding that has us go on this wild goose chase way far away from the actual opportunity.

One of the things I do early on is when clients come and they’re like, well, Cam, I can’t, I can’t, I don’t. I should, right? I can’t do the work that I’ve listed, you know, on a sheet of paper. I don’t do what I know I ought to do. And one of the hard things that we do early on in coaching is to start to account for. What do you do? Right? What is happening actually? What is your experience? Because we’ve got to start there in order to start tethering to causation, to move to that causation place. So I was just making some notes here of like, adrenaline response cycle is being fueled by these pursuits of big signals and destination. Think instead of driving in the background of just from sheer coping, of looking for something to grab onto and then work in that direction.

Meanwhile, what’s happening is we’re getting yanked all over the place and a client of mine was noticing that A) he was not doing his work; B) he was spending a lot of his time day trading in his office. He’s the owner of the business. No one would challenge him. Nobody would, say, Hey, what are you doing there? because he owns the business. And so in those periods of delay and recovery, he would day trade.

So back to ARC and the adrenaline response cycle, you start with delay into intense activity, then the crash and the recovery period. And he noticed that in those downtimes when there wasn’t a big signal to respond to – to get a truck loaded to make an order to again, speak to an employee about something important – he’d be looking and seeking for a big signal. And he found that in day trading. He’d get in there and start trading.

But guess what, Ash, his experience wasn’t about the trading and making money. The experience was really about kind of getting yanked all over the place by his emotions. So when we started to talk about like, how are you spending your time, and it was tough for him to admit that because in admitting to me, he was having to admit to himself of the actual experience what was actually happening. And there’s a little bit of shame and stigma. Once we got past that into looking at, okay, so how can we have a different experience? He started to think about ways to engage with that in a different way. To develop an experiment to go in.

And you know what I’m noticing that this whole like FOMO thing, right? Fear of missing out. Like I’m gonna miss out on the big trade, on cashing in, on scoring big. That was pervasive in his day, and the narrative that went with that in the sense of I can’t miss out, right. That’s destination thinking. The sort of beholden to an outcome. Attached to an outcome. Last week you did such a great job of articulating what it is to be attached.

So here he is attached to this, I can’t miss out. So that’s driving his day. And then how could possibly his list of things that he has to do compete with that. So we got in there and started to look at a way to kind of be with that and start to get some separation from that emotional experience. 

[00:06:29] Ash: Cam, something I’m appreciating in this narrative is your client’s breaking out of a black and white thinking pattern that I see so often with my clients when we have a relationship to something that’s not working for us. With ADHD on board, we can often be so black and white about maybe I shouldn’t do this at all. I’ve talked about that on the show before. When it comes to gaming, you and I did coaching work around gaming. I thought I was a gaming addict when really what was happening is gaming was an avoidant behavior for me, but also something I really enjoy. And so here’s your client getting in here and distinguishing, and rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater and saying, I can’t do this anymore, I need to let this go, examining how he can change his relationship with this thing that he does enjoy and contextualize in terms of what else? What else matters?

[00:07:40] Cam: I love that this is one of the big distinguishers of coaching and big C coaching, is looking at these entry points. What else to consider? What else? We are often in this binary approach of, it’s either to proceed or I’m either going forward or I’m going backwards, or you know, either I’m gonna be full in, in this, or I have to abstain versus how can I approach this?

And two things: One, have agency. Have a little more control so I can build some awareness and then how can I learn from this? And I think that’s that keen observer we talk about is to invite clients to start to develop this keen observer of be curious in this present moment and what’s the learning that I can pull forward. And so he went in and saw that. I don’t necessarily have to abstain from this. I mean, I could, but he saw a learning opportunity. This was on his own. He’s like, you know what I wanna do? I want to develop an experiment where I’ve got some good guardrails here that I can go in and do this day trading, but really go in with the keen observer with me. And the goal is to notice my emotional responses through this experience. To keep that keen observer close by and notice the big signals and what I’m attached to. And it took some time, right? It took a bit of time.

But again, he was careful to construct this in a way where he didn’t lose the house, right? So really think about a time limit and a monetary limit. Of, okay, these are the absolute rules here of if this happens, I’m out and I stop. So developing those parameters to really focus on the learning he wanted or thought was there to extract. And so that’s what happened, is he started to kind of really go in with this curiosity, with the keen observer and to notice how he was responding to certain situations, and in doing so, kind of getting perspective and orienting to the big signal, the destination thinking and his relationship to it.

Ash, I love how you said that earlier in the sense of starting to get information and data on our relationship, too, and then starting to tinker with how can I experience this differently and have a different relationship?

[00:10:19] Ash: Cam, wanna jump in here and address that language that you just used of absolute rules. We’ve talked a lot before on this podcast about how setting up rules for ourselves, as ADHD people, as a first approach to solving a problem can put us in a terrible position because it puts us in this pass-fail mentality. And I’m gonna start working out. I’m gonna work out every day. You miss one day, you’ve failed, and that can be really demotivating.

So what’s different here, listeners, is if you listen to what else Cam said, the client’s going in with curiosity, looking at it as an experiment. And so the rules aren’t there to be a solution. They’re there as a framework to provide some context. And Cam’s client isn’t attaching to here or back to attaching to outcome isn’t attaching to the outcome of did I or did I not follow the rules, but is rather getting curious about what’s going on when I don’t follow the rules. I mean, love that language of experiment.

I have a client who loves to use the language of experimentation when we’re designing actions, and I adore that about him because that’s really what coaching actions are. It’s not about the pass or the fail. It’s not about did you do it exactly how we said you’re gonna do it. It’s about, let’s throw some new context into the mix based on what we think we know. and let’s see what happens and what we can learn from what happens.

[00:12:16] Cam: And listeners, you’re getting some insight into something that distinguishes coaching. Does it notice that this experiment design, it wasn’t something that I suggested. It wasn’t something that I had in my toolkit. It was something that the client saw as an opportunity. He developed it, and so when we develop, we see an opportunity and we can sort of develop the parameters around that opportunity and to think about, again, what’s the learning that I can extract from this?

Then we get into the all important concept of ownership right back to understand, own, translate this ownership of the process. And he used the author, and so I was there to support and reflect back and sort of help him distill the nuggets of learning and help him with the redesigns because that was the other. It’s like every week was an opportunity to tweak and adjust, cuz was he successful right out of the gate. Of course not. This was the time of like, GameStop and, you remember GameStop and sort of, and…

[00:13:30] Ash: And by the way, I know nothing about day trading. And I remember GameStop,

[00:13:34] Cam: Yeah. GameStop and Robinhood and this term diamond hands. I’m like, I learned a lot from my client, like diamond hands, what is that? It’s like, you know, just, go to the moon, right? Like, hold on and go. And it’s like, oh my God, the whole environment has this big signal. You know? Like we’re just gonna hang on until it just explodes.

And I’m like, oh my God, look at the ARC showing up here. Look at the destination thinking, showing up here that he’s trying to be successful. It’s not just his ADHD, right? It’s actually kind of how that environment is informing and infusing and, you know, we, are so plugged in to our environment.

We talked a couple weeks ago about supportive people and in supportive environments. This environment was not for him to really have agency in this moment. So the fascinating thing though, just to finish up on this story, Ash, is that not only did he see how emotions were coming into play, right. Of having more perspective and more awareness of Wow. Okay. This FOMO thing is really yanking me around and contributing to emotional dysregulation that he was seeing causation. And what was fascinating there is then he used his strength of a visionary, right? This is a guy who’s building businesses and sort of seeing opportunities before others ever see, and he was able to elevate and get above all this. Sort of say, okay, now here’s this liability, but how can I use emotion as an asset, as a strength?

And he’s taken that and absolutely converted it into the work he does, developing talent in his businesses. Right. Emotional intelligence or just bringing emotion and noticing the emotion in the room, right? The frustration of his employee not getting a day off when their child is sick or the elation of an opportunity. And all of a sudden my client is having this completely new experience with this thing he would never be good at and was always this thing that, again, had him by the tail yanking him around all day.

And so back to your story last week of it’s not something that’s gonna happen in a day, people. And you can see how journey thinking actually informs here of, alright, what is the experiment I can play around with and how can I tweak it and then get good feedback from it so I can pull that learning forward? And this is months, this is a long period of time that we distill down into a 30-minute episode. And so don’t feel beholden to, like, I gotta make this change this week. It’s starting to identify, okay, what’s the thing that I’m getting yanked around by? Is there a story? Is there a motion? Is there a big signal that I’m reacting and responding to? Remember, we’re good reactors and we’re good responders, we don’t want to be beholden all the time to that ARC. 

[00:16:59] Ash: Cam, journey thinking is really something that I brought to this podcast and to this language of this podcast because it was something that I was really mired in when we started this work. I’ve mentioned several times the, book that I love, we can put the link in the discord, it’s not the book that matters, it’s the perspective.

And the more I lean into journey thinking, not just for myself but with my clients, the more I see that journey thinking and curiosity go hand in hand. Detaching from outcome is the very thing that enables my clients to have a different experience and to have a different experience in ways that they could have never envisioned. When they come to coaching, clients come to coaching and they’re very much mired in their challenge. What’s wrong? And when you’re mired in your challenge, that’s all you can see.

And so, Cam, what’s so interesting about your client’s story and what I’m seeing over and over again, a phrase that I’ve been repeating a lot lately is that strength and challenge are two sides of the same coin. Here’s your client with ADHD with what the clinicians would call emotional dysregulation, and yet we’re seeing the other side of that coin is immense emotional intelligence that is feeding his work.

And Cam, I’m having the same experience that you just described in our purpose class. Just last week, several of the participants were starting to come to a place where they were seeing the strength on the other side of that coin of challenge. And interestingly enough, not because that’s what I was teaching to necessarily, but just because in this process of experimenting with detaching from outcome and instead being on some sort of journey, that’s the natural place that people go.

You know, as coaches, we don’t try to predict anything about what’s gonna happen in any given client session, but over a longer period of time coaching a client. I tell every new client exactly where I’d like them to go in our coaching relationship and where we can go if they keep showing up and doing the work.

But it’s not something we can give to you listeners. We can’t just say, oh, detach from outcome, be on the journey, and you repeat that to yourself every morning and that’s it. It’s work. It’s work and effort. Experience of little by little, having things go differently, not to sound like super meta, Cam, but it’s being on the journey itself becomes what informs us. I don’t know how to explain it any other way than that. It’s the more you detach from outcome and the more you’re able to just truly be curious, the more is revealed to you.

[00:20:21] Cam: So bringing this into a practice this week, listeners, what’s the practice here for you? I wanna leave you with an example of a starting place, and this is actually what we do in coaching, what we do in our group coaching. You know, one of my classes is called Foundations in Habit Development, and yet early on we look at the habits that are not working. And we look at this connection between our behaviors and the beliefs and the emotions that drive those behaviors. And this is that barrier one work, right? This is the barrier around awareness. Getting to awareness to see what is actually happening. My client, before he could have a different emotional experience and actually flip that to bring it into the strength area. And Ash, you’re absolutely right. He’s just like, blown away by like, oh my God, I’m, I’m like calm and I’m seeing stuff and it’s crazy. But before we can get there, we have to get to this awareness of what is actually going on.

So, so many of our people who come to our group coaching, it’s like, okay, I need to make this change. I need to make that change. And they’re focused on the habits they need to develop, and we start with the habits that are not working right, and the beliefs and feelings tethered to that, which is ARC is in there, too. Destination thinking is in there, too. The big signal is in there.

So what this client did was he came to terms with the fact that he spent a lot of time getting yanked around in the day trading and the FOMO experience. It’s like, you know what? I want to have a different experience there. I’ve got to create some agency there. But back to that idea of embracing this idea of learning, right? When you talk about journey thinking for our clients, it’s about showing up regardless, right? When you show up, regardless of whatever happens, and there’s always data, there’s always nuggets of learning to pull forward. That’s the big difference. And so if you have a really, a vice grip on this has to be this way, I cannot not be a part of this. Right. That’s that FOMO of I have to be a part of this. Oh, well, the guy realized he didn’t have to be a part of it. He didn’t have to have diamond fists, one of those two, Ash.

Another client though, recognizing she hesitates, she’s in that delay place of ARC. Right. And that she tends to hesitate, she tends to not move into, and so she got curious there, right? Of what is the behavior, the hesitation. And in part of that hesitation and avoidance, what she’d do is research and continue to consume, consume, consume. And the belief was, I’m not ready. I don’t have enough information. So here’s this belief driving this behavior. To continue to consume. And what she was not doing, she was not sharing her expertise. She’s an expert. She’s an expert in a field, and yet she has this thinking of, it’s not quite ready. I don’t have enough. I need to collect more data before I can share.

Well, what’s going on there is that gap between awareness and engagement, right? Getting into action. She was bumping into that second barrier. She had all the awareness she needed. She had all the data she needed, but she was not able to get over and into effective action. So she started to design an experiment of, you know what? I’m gonna develop an experiment of no more consuming. If I notice I’m consuming, I’m gonna stop. And to develop this alternative of finding places to share. What’s a place I can share my expertise and practice that. Right?

So it’s vulnerable. It’s uncomfortable, and yet that’s her experiment that she’s playing around with. But it starts back with this accounting for and recognizing, okay, what’s actually happening? And she had to come to terms with the fact that that procrastination and avoidance and delay and hesitating and she has to nip that – figure out a way to get some distance from that – in order to move over and develop the new behaviors she wants to develop, which is to share her expertise to mentor.

So listeners, find your place to start again. If you’re a bit overwhelmed, not sure where to begin, take a step back. Take a step back. Overwhelm can be very real here in this moment of, I gotta find the right place to start. Oh, guess what? That’s destination thinking too. So take a step back, find a safe place to explore this and set up your own experiment. If you have a coach, great. If not, finding someone to help you with that.

[00:25:30] Ash: And Cam, just to tack onto what you said, looking at what’s not working as a place to start. And two questions that we like to ask when we do that exercise in our group coaching is what’s the dilemma and what’s the opportunity? So take a look at something that’s not working and ask yourself what’s the dilemma, what’s the opportunity? And based on your answers to those two questions, what are you curious about? Because that’s where we would go next as coaches is, okay, we’ve defined the dilemma. We know where you want to go with that dilemma. Now what has your attention.

[00:26:05] Cam: Just a quick caveat or disclaimer is that if your experience is too emotional, too traumatic, there’s a trauma element here, is don’t do it alone. So just wanted to add that very important piece,

[00:26:20] Ash: Well said, Cam. So listeners, if you like what we’re doing here on the show, one big way you can help us out is don’t keep us a secret. Share us on social media. Share us with the other neuro divergents in your life. If you work at a place that has a neuro divergent support group, share that resource there.

So, until next week, I’m Ash,

[00:26:40] Cam: and I’m Cam.

[00:26:41] Ash: and this was the Translating ADHD podcast. Thanks for listening.

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