Never Stop Starting Over


Ever wonder why there are so many clichés encouraging persistence, determination and resilience: “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”, “back to the old drawing board”, “don’t take ‘no’ for an answer”, “never say never”, “gotta get back on the horse”, etc.? Winston Churchill once said, “Never, ever ever ever ever give up."

Something noble cloaks the ancient legends of those who blazed trails through impenetrable jungles, trudged purposefully across nighttime deserts, or risked constant peril on the high seas guided only by heavenly constellations pointing the way; and most of them soldiered on never knowing what lay ahead of them “that way”. They were explorers. They were conquerors. They were often lost, lonely lunatics on the run from their past.

Whomever they were, they were persistent, determined, and resilient. They had to be, or they would never have become legends. I suspect that for each legendary character there are a thousand others who faced the peril head on, for a day, and then retreated to the comfort of complacency back in the bosom of the motherland. I should imagine there are hundreds more who simply went too far to return home, yet not far enough to reach any satisfactory destination. Their bones lay scattered between “here" and “there”. Nay, ’tis only of the survivors and thrivers we hear told. 

Hold on. Isn’t this an ADHD website? What’s with all the chatter of bushwhackers, nomads, and buccaneers?

Everyone faces obstacles and headwinds in their life; “that’s life” as they say. With ADHD, it can feel like we’ve only been given tiny sails made of rice paper to face those tumultuous headwinds. Our equipment feels inadequate. 

With brains that don’t always carry forward the memory of previous successes or failures as efficiently as most brains; how are we supposed to build on success or learn from mistakes? “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try the same thing again and again???” I don’t think that’s what the cliché encourages.

Sadly, for many ADHD’ers, the effort required to land safely in the unknown terrain of our future is magnified because most of our days are a little too cloudy to get reliable bearings from hidden constellations. We don’t always notice lifes clues pointing us in the right direction. Hundreds fall to peril. Thousands turn back to the safe bosom of complacency and stop trying to forge ahead.

The good news is, left on our own with ADHD, we are still capable of learning and adapting over time. We simply set our little paper sails with the wind and put a lot more effort and patience into the journey until we reach our destiny or any destiny. It’s a lot of hard work, but if we “never say never” we can succeed.

The crest at the top of this page is a reminder to me of this “stick-to-it” attitude; it’s the ancient Duncan crest of my Scottish heritage. The motto “Disce Pati” written above the dismasted sail boat means, “Learn to Suffer” or “Learn to Endure”. It’s a great attitude to have in the face of unavoidable hardship, but is a wee bit gÒrach (gaelic for “stupid”) when an advantage is available to us and we refuse to take it, favouring the harder path instead.

The better news is, ADHD is quite responsive to treatment. 

Biological treatments like medication have proven to provide some improvement in brain function for a good portion of people with ADHD. Certain dietary adjustments also prove helpful for some, while proper sleep and exercise will benefit anyone. 

Psychosocial treatments, like coaching, (which equips individuals with personalized strategies to apply their strengths, interests, and values to the tools they naturally possess) allows the individual to think and act differently over time. 

Compared to the rice paper sails we’ve been equipped with, these advantages can feel like hoisting a mainsail of kevlar under the command of a skilled skipper. “Full sail ahead!"

The bottom line for every human being is that life throws us some challenges. For those with ADHD, life has thrown us some unique challenges. We can drift our way into the future with what we’ve been given, or we can sharpen our skills and invest in better equipment. Either way, success belongs to those who simply Never Stop Starting Over

      © Dan Duncan 2013                                       part of the