Shanna Pearson (photo from cjnews.com)
Do any of these symptoms apply to you? You find that your life is chaotic and unmanageable. You are easily sidetracked from tasks you begin. You flit from job to job. You can’t follow through on a project. If so, chances are you’re part of a fairly sizable segment of the population who have been diagnosed with ADHD, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.
Often associated with children who face learning challenges at school, it’s less well known that it can be diagnosed in adults. Shanna Pearson, who was diagnosed with the disorder eight years ago, started a business one year later dedicated to helping adults cope with the condition.
Called One Focus Total Success, Pearson’s company provides coaching assistance to people who want to get their lives under control. It does so by having its coaches direct clients to focus on one specific task at a time. With a coach on the phone, the chance of an ADHD sufferer getting sidetracked or procrastinating is reduced, and the coach can verify through a number of means that the client is following through, Pearson said.
The coach’s advice is tailored to meet the needs of each client. If a person is hamstrung by a messy, disorganized desk, the coach gives specific instructions on getting it cleaned up – not later, right now. Instructions will be given and the client might be, for example, expected to photograph the desk, before and after, and email the images to the coach while they’re still on the line. That way, the client stays on task and implements the practical advice they receive. “That’s what we do that people love us for,” Pearson said.
If cleaning a garage is a problem, the instructor helps create a system for storing, and monitors its implementation. Perhaps it’s as simple as storing like objects together, or keeping it color-coded. “The system has to be easy for the client to implement. Everything is simplicity,” Pearson said.
For people with ADHD, organizing tasks can be difficult and learning to prioritize is crucial. Clients are advised to schedule their most important tasks at the time of the day they’re most productive and save less important jobs, like checking email, for less productive times. “We’re teaching them how to create a system and to implement the system,” she explained.
Clients receive one coaching session per week along with a follow-up text message or email. Most clients stay with One Focus for a period of six months. They pay by the month, and are able to cancel at any time.
At any given time, One Focus has more than 400 clients and that number has doubled every year, Pearson said. Like the coaches, many are American, but One Focus has clients across Canada and the world.
“The hardest part of the business is hiring people,” Pearson said. “These people have to be the best coaches on the planet. They need to be motivational, quite good at prioritization, and they have to go deep into people who’ve been living lives with ADHD.”
Coaches have to really understand their clients, who often “have issues of commitment. A lot get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task and they become paralyzed and go do something else.” She later added, “We stimulate their brains,” clients “learn by doing, not by talking.”
Most of her staff members are trained counselors, psychologists, social workers or teachers.
Given her own history, Pearson said she understands the challenges faced by people with ADHD. She worked for years for a number of nonprofit organizations in the Jewish community, but would leave those jobs after a relatively short time. She also worked for the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotions, designing large health and wellness programs for career counselors. Nevertheless, she found that her life was chaotic, and she wasn’t meeting her career and relationship goals.
“I was very quick and ambitious, but I was not able to follow through,” she said. Over time, “I created a system for myself and [now] it’s the basis of all our coaching.”
Completely self-taught, Pearson designed the One Focus program based on what worked for her. It seems to be working for others, as well. The company is so busy, she is currently hiring three new coaches. And she no longer has time to do any of the coaching herself. She’s delegated that task and set her priorities. Looks like that part of her business life is firmly under control.
– For more national Jewish news, visit cjnews.com.