I ask my clients to envision two banks: one is their professional credibility bank and the other is their personal credibility bank. Both banks’ balances are extremely important for people affected by ADHD. Without any credit in the banks, we have less flexibility with our friends and colleagues. But, when we have good credit, high balances in our bank accounts, we have room to maneuver. Let me explain.
For example, in a work situation when you have been late to work often and haven’t finished projects on time, your professional credibility bank’s balance is probably low. So, it is not surprising when you ask to leave early on a Friday, the request is denied. You haven’t earned it. There is not enough balance from which to withdraw credits so you may leave early that Friday.
However, if you are consistently punctual and finish your projects on time, you will gradually earn a little credibility with your coworkers and supervisor. They will see your efforts and esteem you more for it. Here is where many people with ADHD falter. They believe this level of commitment should earn them a lot of credibility, even though everyone else also gets to work and finishes projects on time. That is the job. It doesn’t matter that it takes extra effort on our part. If we arrive at work in a timely fashion, get our work in on time and do something extra for the company or boss now and then, we earn those extra credibility points. The balance in our credibility bank shoots up, and it is more likely that we will be able to leave early on a Friday afternoon.
We misinterpret that completing what is required of everyone is deserving of extra credit. But, going beyond basic expectations is where you build up credibility. Our struggles are our personal problems. We gain more respect if we just do the work rather than explain why it is a big triumph when we succeed with meeting the basic expectations.
But don’t forget, you choose how to go about exceeding the basic expectations. The smart way is to use your strengths and what is unique about you. Determine what you do well that fits in with your organization’s goals and do something extra related to that to earn credibility.
The key to building credibility
One of the reasons we struggle with building credibility is because we are not great at thinking ahead or anticipating future needs. We live in the moment. Dr. Ned Hallowell, who co-wrote two of the best-known books about ADHD, puts it like this, “There is now and not now,” for people affected by ADHD. It is necessary for us to force ourselves to think past the “now” to consciously develop credit in both our professional and personal banks. It is almost certain that we will need that credit in the future, so we must keep building up credibility.