A Coaching Power Tool By Isabelle Boucher, Adults with ADHD, CANADA
While working on my research paper on adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the workplace, I came across a few symptoms that struck me as possibly common in persons with ADHD or ADHD tendencies, and adults in general. These symptoms such as being scattered, disorderly, or disorganized tend to come up and be an underlying issue to managing projects, completing paperwork, or procrastinating, for example.
The issue of scatteredness also came up while I was coaching a peer. While coaching this person, they talked about having difficulty moving forward with a specific project because they felt scattered. They reported not knowing where to start, what to look for, felt that they were “all over the place” and being easily distracted by “shiny things.” It appeared that my client felt that being centered or organized would help them establish a plan and steps to begin working on their project to meet the deadline that was required.
Knowing that my research was based on adults with ADHD and ADHD tendencies, I suspected that this is probably a common challenge for many individuals. I can remember a few times where I felt disorganized, didn’t know where to start and felt stuck. As I researched further into my topic, I discovered that being disorganized is a common theme amongst individuals that are feeling “stuck” and don’t know how to move forward. They feel scattered. It became clear to me that developing a power tool that was in line with feeling or being scattered was something that could be powerfully used with clients.
With this experience and information in hand, I decided to develop a power tool called Scattered vs. Centered.
Scattered vs. Centered Information
Definition of Scattered
According to Merriam-Webster, the word scattered is an adjective that is defined as “lacking a definite plan, purpose, or pattern.”
Being scattered can be physical such as being disorganized, having things everywhere in no particular order.
Being scattered can also refer to our thoughts, ideas, or feelings. Think of the expression “being all over the place!”
Feeling or being scattered can be disempowering as it prevents any potential focus to be applied to a task at hand. A person that is scattered tends to view many things in no particular order, they move from one thing to another or feel pulled in different directions. These situations can become overwhelming because these persons can see things with no sense of beginning or end, they may know some things that could be done but are not sure where they fit in the overall plan, how and when to execute them.
The feeling of overwhelm can also lead to anxiety, stress, feeling inadequate, or incapable. These feelings can also bring up fear. Negative self-talk can kick in for some and lead to a negative path that further exacerbates negative feelings and send the person in a tailspin of negativity. This is where the person needs help in coming out of the said tailspin to see a different perspective, a new view that can open up horizons and provide solutions and options.
Let’s explore the feeling of being centered.
Definition of Centered
Merriam-Webster defines being centered as being emotionally stable and secure. Being centered can provide feelings of trust, reassurance, confidence all while being in the moment. It is a way to reduce or eliminate the fear and focus on the person.
Feeling centered brings the person to the present moment which can be the key to stopping the feeling of being scattered and feeling fear. In other words, it can bring awareness to the person themselves. This focus can reduce stress, anxiety and help gain perspective in the challenge at hand.
Think of being centered as allowing the person to find balance on a continuum being or feeling scattered and being or feeling centered. Below is an example of this continuum:
The Continuum of Scattered vs. Centered:
Dr. Carol Robin explains being centered as having a reference point, a place to come back to when life, emotions, and stress send you off balance. And this is the key to being or feeling centered, it is to find the balance on the continuum above.
Once the individual can center themselves, they will uncover resilience. Resilience may bring focus which will allow them to concentrate on the task at hand.
But how does one center themselves? To center ourselves, we can look at a couple of examples, such as addressing our physical environment and addressing our personal well-being.
In the example of addressing the physical environment, this can be as simple as removing distracting noise such as radio, music, etc. It can be wearing earplugs or finding a quiet space to work when people around us are carrying conversations.
A quiet space to work can help the person move away from being scattered to being centered, by removing distractions such as noise, but also any visual stimulation. Perhaps it’s finding a room or desk to work where there is no television, for example. Clearing and organizing a desk so that the person can work in an organized environment can bring focus.
With regards to addressing our personal well-being, the goal of the feeling of being centered or focused is to find or establish strategies that reduce stress, reduce fear, and other negative feelings. How to achieve that varies from one person to another. Perhaps it is doing breathing exercises for a short amount of time before turning on the computer, maybe it’s a short meditation or establishing a calming ritual that will improve the feeling of well-being. Maybe it’s exercise. Or, it’s coming up with short or smaller goals for the day.
Feeling comfortable, calm, and relaxed can help find the balance necessary on the Continuum of Scattered vs. Centered. This balance can help the person move forward in their task.
Discovering the feeling of being centered is something coaches can help with. Let’s explore how we can apply this power tool to coaching.
Scattered vs. Centered in Coaching
To help a client move from being scattered to being centered, it is important to find out what being scattered means to them. How do they feel scattered; is it in their physical environment, their body, or the mind? In other words, asking them to describe their state of being scattered will help the client understand themselves better when in a scattered situation.
Then, the coach could inquire what would be centered mean to the client. The question of what being centered looks like to them is key. This is a way to help the client gain more awareness about themselves, as to where they are and where they would like to be on the Continuum of Scattered vs. Centered.
By asking these questions, the coach helps the client uncover what being centered is based on. For example, is it related to the external environment, is it a physical state, or an emotional state? Finding out the link between the task at hand and their state has the potential for the client, to uncover important learnings. These learnings can help them identify their feelings and thoughts related to the goal the client wishes to achieve.
Based on the client’s response and their learning(s), exploring ways for the client to be centered is the next step. These solutions will help the client center themselves which in turn, will bring focus.
It is with focus and being centered that the client will achieve their goal or the task that is required to be completed. They will move away from the feeling of being “stuck” meaning, they will move away from being scattered towards being centered.
On a final note, based on my coaching model, it could be beneficial to ask the client to think of a time where they accomplished a task where they felt centered and focused.
What can they identify in past experiences that could be used for the current situation?
Past experiences can be enlightening as adults. After all, we tend to learn from our past. Having a coach help the client remembers positive experience can lead to important and positive discoveries.
My research paper on coaching adults with ADHD or ADHD tendencies inspired me to create the Scattered versus Centered Power Tool. Although I found that individuals with ADHD or ADHD tendencies commonly feel or are scattered, I have come across this with peer clients, which has led me to realize that human beings can feel scattered from time to time \, and they are not necessarily diagnosed with ADHD, nor do they have ADHD tendencies.
As coaches, we can help our clients find a balance between them being scattered to moving towards being centered. Being scattered can lead to stress, anxiety, lack of focus, negative influence self-confidence, negative self-talk, and other negative emotions.
Supporting our clients using the power tool Scattered versus Centered can help them find focus, self-confidence, gain clarity, and awareness. Being centered brings peace that allows the client to move forward with their goals.
Smart but Scattered Guide to Success, Peg Dawson Ed.D, Richard Guare Ph.D.
Coaching Students with Executive Skills Deficits, Peg Dawson and Richard Guare.