Taking a Cue

How I learned to clear my head, envision success, and allow hyperfocus to carry me there.

Hyperfocused man with ADHD at work while on computer
Hyperfocused man with ADHD at work while on computer

I chalk up my first victory in a pool tournament to hyperfocus.

If you’ve seen For Love of the Game, you know that the major league pitcher, played by Kevin Costner, throws a perfect game at the end of his career. He says to himself, “Clear the mechanism” – and focuses only on the pitch he is about to throw. That’s what I learned to do in the pool hall.

I was an inconsistent player. I lost easy matches, but I occasionally beat professional players. I had the ability to excel, but lacked the mental skill to do so consistently. I was distracted by people talking, by a referee standing too close to me. It was my adult attention deficit disorder (ADD).

Then I discovered the other side of ADD.

At a pool match, I noticed that the pressure of competition made me focus completely on getting in position and making balls. I was in the zone.

A mentor helped me harness this hyperfocus by establishing rituals. When walking into a pool hall, I keep to myself. I lightly touch the felt table, listen to the balls collide, and “see” them dropping into the pockets. This is how I “clear the mechanism” and bring on the focus needed to win.

Since winning a tournament, I’ve used this technique in other areas of my life. Hyperfocus helped me when I launched ADDer World, a social networking site for ADD adults. I couldn’t have written my book – One Boy’s Struggle: Surviving Life with Undiagnosed ADD – without it.

Hyperfocus is ADD’s gift to me – and to you.