Is there a link to having ADD to being a successful executive or entrepreneur? Some think there might be:

"Entrepreneurs also display a striking number of mental oddities. Julie Login of Cass Business School surveyed a group of entrepreneurs and found that 35% of them said that they suffered from dyslexia, compared with 10% of the population as a whole and 1% of professional managers. Prominent dyslexics include the founders of Ford, General Electric, IBM and IKEA, not to mention more recent successes such as Charles Schwab (the founder of a stockbroker), Richard Branson (the Virgin Group), John Chambers (Cisco) and Steve Jobs (Apple). There are many possible explanations for this. Dyslexics learn how to delegate tasks early (getting other people to do their homework, for example). They gravitate to activities that require few formal qualifications and demand little reading or writing.

Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) is another entrepreneur-friendly affliction: people who cannot focus on one thing for long can be disastrous employees but founts of new ideas. Some studies suggest that people with ADD are six times more likely than average to end up running their own businesses. David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue, a budget airline, says: “My ADD brain naturally searches for better ways of doing things. With the disorganisation, procrastination, inability to focus and all the other bad things that come with ADD, there also come creativity and the ability to take risks.” Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinko’s and a hotch-potch of businesses since, has both ADD and dyslexia. “I get bored easily; that is a great motivator,” he once said. “I think everybody should have dyslexia and ADD.”"

No one is arguing you need to have dyslexia, Aspergers, or ADD to be successful. For all the success cases, there are probably dozens more who really do struggle to do well. No one should feel insulted at this correlation, either; it’s not anyone’s fault for having these conditions. But for me, it’s an inqusitive look at what could be shaping our leaders. Those who can overcome their “challenges” may do just as well or better than the “average”.

Saying everyone should have dyslexia and ADD is ignoring the other side of coin, though, and I wouldn’t want to discount the struggle people have to go through.

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