Thursday, May 13, 2010

ADHD Coaching - What Defines You?

Coaches are committed to walking their talk - working on their own personal development as they coach their clients to do the same. That's why we all have coaches too. Last week my coach, Belinda, persuaded me to share this story:

In January I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I like to refer to it as 'mild cancer' as it was detected really early during a routine mammogram. From the start, I chose to treat my diagnosis as good news. Had it not been detected I would have been in trouble. As it turned out, I had 2 minor surgical procedures (which my friends irreverently refer to as 'lobotomies') and a series of radiotherapy treatments. I'm expected to make a full recovery. I also chose not to let my cancer dominate my thoughts. Fortunately I was able to continue working throughout my treatment. Each day I looked forward to working with inspiring people from all walks of life. Unlike me, they face ongoing challenges caused by a condition for which there is no cure. I was filled with admiration for the young girl who told me that she refused to allow ADHD to define her. "I'm not Wendy with ADHD", she said. "I'm Wendy who works and thinks differently, and I deal with that!" Her words reminded me of another inspiring lady I once knew.

I once had the privilege of meeting Linda. She had everything to live for - two talented children and a husband she adored, who in turned doted on her. By the time I met her she was in remission from brain cancer. Shortly after we met, her tumour returned and her husband was diagnosed with lymphoma. They died within 6 months of each other. I never knew Linda prior to her diagnosis. Apparently she was organised and controlled. The woman I met was impulsive, forgetful and often blunt because of her tumour. And of course we got along like a house on fire! From the outside it may have seemed that I was looking after Linda as she prepared for her impending death. In reality, Linda was teaching me about life - and about having fun! During her chemotherapy sessions we'd plan weekends away with hired sports cars and Isadora Duncan scarves. We laughed until our cheeks ached, and our frivolous behaviour attracted many disapproving stares. Did we care? Nuh! Linda told me that she refused to allow cancer to define her life. She consciously chose to be happy even though she was faced with such dreadful hardship. I hoped and prayed that I might be half as strong if I were ever tested as she was.

I think Linda would have approved of how I dealt with my cancer diagnosis and treatment. I refused to put my life on hold, even when my oncologist patiently told me for the tenth time that I would feel less fatigued if I took time off work. How could I explain to her that my work energised and healed me? I had friends to laugh with, and a family on both sides of the Indian Ocean who loved and supported me. So, when I think back on the past months since I received my diagnosis, I think of a lot more than cancer. Here are some achievements:
  • coaching people with ADHD every day
  • a wonderful week of coach training in Sydney
  • a great network of like-minded coaches to support me
  • finding a marvellous mentor coach
  • handing over the LADS presidency
  • visiting my daughter in Melbourne - TWICE
  • planning a trip to South Africa for my mum's 80th in September
  • moving to the perfect office for coaching
  • winning the Cameron prize for best research in UWA's Faculty of Education
  • re-designing our kitchen & bathrooms which are about to be renovated
  • completing most of the requirements for ACC certification with the International Coach Federation
  • having fun with my friends and family
  • my husband and I buying a red scooter (which he has forbidden me to drive!)
Now that my treatment has ended I can start the next chapter of my life. Much ADHD coaching will be carried out, and even more fun will be had! And I WILL drive that red scooter.

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