Go Ahead and be a (Legal) Risk Taker

ADDers are risk takers. It’s not because we don’t have fear. We just have a desire for adrenaline release. It’s like we subconsciously know that doing something risky will release the neurotransmitters that help our brains function like everyone elses.

Being a risk taker can be a good thing. Not everyone can do scary jobs like teaching skydiving, racing cars, being a rodeo cowboy, or speaking onstage. One field that ADDers excel in, but isn’t exactly thought of as risky is sales. Many salespeople are paid by commission, so if you don’t make the sale, you don’t get paid. That’s pretty risky.

With high energy and a fun, extroverted attitude, ADDers are natural salespeople. Years ago, I was amazed to find that I was pretty good at it.

One summer, I worked with “Dads For Lads,” an organization of fathers against drunk driving. To raise support, they had kids sell T-shirts door-to-door. I spent the summer walking around with big stack of shirts on my arm, and I did pretty well. Another summer, I sold frozen pizzas door-to-door for a contest to win a free ‘outdoor education’ camping trip. I really wanted to go learn about the wilderness, build a fire, cook on it, and see all sorts of bugs and animals.

Most kids were too afraid to go door-to-door. There’s something intimidating about walking up to a door – you never know who’s going to answer: a pleasant mom, a hairy man, a whiny kid, or a drooling dog. The other kids averaged about 10 pizzas sold, mostly to their relatives. I sold 100, won the contest, and went away for my first-ever weekend of camping.

My undiscovered ADHDness helped me to knock on people’s doors and ask them to buy something. I didn’t worry about what people thought or who might answer the door. I was an excellent salesman, and if I weren’t doing what I’m doing now, I probably would have ended up in sales.

What I’m do now for a living has its own risks. It’s a common belief that there are more people who fear public speaking than those who fear death. And the audiences don’t make it easy either. At many of the public school assemblies where I speak, the kids are usually not happy to see me. The looks on their faces scream, “I dare you to try to impress me.” I’m thankful to have many more happy endings than horror stories over the years.

If you have ADHD and have recognized the joy in taking risks, find something positive that’s worth taking a risk for; something that you dream about or love to do; something good that will make a difference in people’s lives. Oh, and preferably something that the police don’t have a codename for.