My name is Erik Anderson.
I am an ADHD coach
and I want to be a resource for you.
TL;DR: Here are some things to know about me so you have a better idea of what I bring to this conversation:
- I grew up with a disability. I understand what it’s like to feel different.
- I am an advocate. I believe people are capable of far more than the labels and limitations that are thrust upon them.
- I understand ADHD. I have studied it, educated others about it, and more importantly I live it.
- I do impossible things. I have a unique perspective on the word impossible and I show others they can do impossible things too.
That’s it in a nutshell, but if you want to know the whole story, read on …
I grew up with a disability.
I was born with a disability (Cerebral Palsy). I learned firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate the System just to get the things you need to live.
Growing up, I learned the medical model is broken, and the educational system does not support exceptionality. Nor does it prepare kids with disabilities for the real world, because the employment system doesn’t care if you don’t fit in the middle of the bell curve … and they don’t give out participation ribbons.
I was lucky. My mother was an amazing advocate. And she taught me how to be an effective advocate. When the traditional disability system didn’t give us what we needed, we forged our own path.
I became a life-long advocate for system change.
I got involved.
I got involved with disability organizations. Eventually I became the Affirmative Action/ADA/Diversity Coordinator for the State of Iowa.
Working for the State I saw how different disenfranchised populations were discouraged or even excluded from participation and all the things that kept their voices from being heard.
So I did what I always do. I created change. I was part of a successful effort in 1999 to include “gender identity” in Iowa’s employment policies against employment discrimination.
Later, I became a Family Support Coordinator working under a Federal mandate as part of I.D.E.A. (The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).
I worked with parents of children with disabilities to get services and accommodations in public schools.
And I learned the power of direct one-on-one advocacy to create meaningful change.
Not only that …
I learned I had ADHD.
I was attending a conference where a friend of mine was a keynote speaker. They talked about their struggle with ADHD.
It was a surreal experience because it felt like they took all of it word for word out of the diary I never wrote.
Learning about my ADHD as an adult changed everything I thought I knew about myself. Up to that point, the world had always tried to define me by the visible disability it could see.
The hardest thing about my CP wasn’t the disability itself. It was other people telling me what they thought I could or couldn’t do.
My ADHD didn’t show, so my real struggle was invisible to the rest of the world.
Suddenly a lot of things made sense. I had always known my brain didn’t seem to work the same way everyone else’s did. Now I knew why.
And I learned several very important things that changed my life:
- I wasn’t the first person to experience this.
- I was not lazy, crazy, or broken.
- There were strategies for ADHD out there that worked.
- Along with the challenges, ADHD also gave me some amazing strengths.
- And I was not alone.
I learned to work with my brain instead of fighting it.
Everything in my life improved; My work, my relationships … my sense of self.
It was a particularly fulfilling time in my life. I did a lot of good work and I helped a lot of people. But changes on the state and national level were making the advocacy work we were doing much more difficult. Plus, by this point I was exhausted from decades of fighting for change and beating my head against the System.
In short, I was burned out.
I needed a change. I needed to do something where I saw people at their best. So I left the System behind, and took a mental health … decade.
So I did something completely different.
I went back to the world I grew up in.
My family business was racing horses, which meant I spent my childhood on county fair midways and parimutuel horse tracks across the Midwest. My mentors growing up were carnies, pitchmen, gamblers, grifters, magicians, and fortune-tellers. It was a pretty AMAZING childhood.
I drew on all that experience and became an outdoor showman performing at fairs and festivals. I even did a comedy traveling medicine show complete with medicine show wagon. It was a lot of fun,
I learned how to do “impossible” things.
It gave me an opportunity to study the psychology (and sometimes ruthlessly effective methods) used by the hidden communities and subcultures that exist and even thrive outside the system.
I learned the art of the pitch and the fast talk, and underground secrets of persuasion and influence.
It was a guerrilla course in motivation, marketing, and communication.
Most importantly, I learned that if you want results, you have to work with things the way they really are, not how you wish they were. You have to be willing to do what actually works, not what you think should.”
But as much as I loved the work, I missed being an advocate and helping others.
I became an ADHD coach.
I enrolled in the ADD Coach Academy to get my certification as an ADHD coach so I could work with people one-on-one outside The System.
And that’s where I am now.
Now I’m a freelance agent for change working with people one-on-one.
So now, instead of fighting systemic limitations, I challenge labels and personal limitations. Instead of finding “best practices,” I help people find their “best self.”
And because I’m now working working outside The System (and the bureaucracy), I can use ALL the tools I have at my disposal, and make a REAL difference.
Which is just another way of saying …