It’s difficult for people whose lives don’t intersect with Autism spectrum disorders or ADHD to quite get their heads around the concept of not being able to concentrate.

“Just do it, man.”

“Don’t over-think it!”

“FOCUS, you moron!”

What’s more interesting than even that lack of understanding is pondering the impact of giving someone with that kind of lightning-fast attention-span or context-switching capability the room to really flourish in such a fast-paced environment.

24/7 shopping, instant news, instant- and queue-style communication. The makings of an environment specifically built for folks who can’t focus are all there, but the questions that are raised by it are thorny:

  • Do we continue to try and “fix” these people?
  • Are they really “broken”?
  • Are we treating people with these kinds of disorders the wrong way?
  • Is this a disorder or an adaptation?

That last question sticks with me the most often these days. I’m starting to think that ADHD isn’t a disorder, but an adaptation to an increasingly busy landscape that is clambering for everyone’s attention at all times.

I’d imagine a better set of questions are more likely:

  • If this is a mental adaptation, can it be taught or imparted?
  • If this is an advantage, why aren’t more companies leveraging it instead of hampering it?
  • If it’s such a burden, why are some of the most creative minds in the world so fragmented and seemingly rudderless?

I feel that it’s more likely that a different kind of work/life balance is being formed. One where spontaneous creativity and immediate inspiration is able to be harnessed no matter what time of day or where we are, where we are able to still focus and put our will toward a single task, and ultimately where we can Get Things Done without having to worry about all the extra fluff.

If that kind of environment existed, I’d sure as hell love to live there.

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