The pros and cons of neurodiversity in the workplace

Neurodiversity in the workplace.

Next week we mark brain difference and neurodiversity. Between the 16th – 21st March, as we celebrate Brain Awareness Week, I wanted to share with you a more personal story.

Brain Awareness Week

There are many wonderful things about being an entrepreneur, but there are also many challenging parts. For me the challenges though became really difficult to navigate – overwhelmingly so. I love my profession as an event host, moderator and emcee and have built it to a successful, thriving business over the past five years with many satisfied repeat customers. However, the business operations part has always presented the biggest challenge to me, so much so, that two years ago I took the bold step to seek advice from medical professionals as to why I was finding it so challenging to manage the operations.

It transpires I have a form of ADHD called EFD – Executive Function Disorder. Looking back, I think I always knew that I found certain tasks overwhelmingly difficult, from school, through various jobs, but had managed to either avoid the tasks I found difficult or muddle through them badly. It was only when I set up my own business that things came to a head.

Receiving a formal diagnosis of ADHD whilst it has helped me understand, it still leaves me facing the challenge of navigating tasks and situations that I find particularly challenging when running my business operations.  ADHD has been likened by fellow sufferer, Rory Bremner, to having a mind like a pinball machine and I completely agree with his description. My form of neurodiversity does not stop me from doing the work I love and that I am told I am very good at, but I am aware of it and so are those who work with me closest on running the business.

I have had to learn coping strategies and continue to do so in some cases with the help of modern technology. These include relentlessly recording and diarising events and actions to act as cues. I am also due shortly to start a CBT course which I am told will help further.

I believe in life; we should play to our strengths and what we may perceive as a weakness can also represent our greatest strength. In my case, and I believe Rory’s, due to ADHD it is our ability to present and react well in fast-moving, unexpected situations – it turns from a potential weakness into our greatest strength and also allows us to communicate with others in those circumstances.

Having shared this insight, why would clients wish to work with me as an event host, moderator and emcee? Event plans shift and change right up to the wire – I enjoy and even thrive on this. Events, regardless of their format always have a schedule. My job is to make that plan work. As the host, moderator or facilitator, being able to react in the moment has massive advantages, whether having to think on my feet or throw a whole schedule up in the air and re-jig it as drops down again can make the difference as to whether an event is a success or not.

In this week where we observe brain awareness and mark neurodiversity, I thought it important to highlight my story of it to inspire and role model the art of the possible. I also wished to publicly thank all of those people I have worked with in the past and who I now work with and who have supported me so far on this journey to a later life ADHD diagnosis.

James Hasler of HaslerHill Consulting is a professional event host, MC/Emcee, moderator, “frontman” and anchor . He is also professional Toastmaster, The Man in the Red Coat, as well as voice artist working across industries and geographies with clients to ensure their events achieve the impact in the market that they want. If you are interested in discussing further your needs with James, he can be contacted via email james@haslerhillconsulting.co.uk or by phone at +44(0)7773 229909



2 Comments

  • Well you would never know it James. Having seen you as our Beadle at many livery events you are like the proverbial swan. Paddling away underneath while gliding gracefully through the event and making sure everything happens at the right time, in the right place and with good humour.

    • HaslerHill Consulting

      I think that is my point Annie. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Don’t ask me to do your paperwork, but give me a sheet of paper to do with running an event smoothly and I am your man. The ADHD means constant interruptions to my planning train of thought. (Rory’s Pinball Machine analogy) So because I am used to that if things go awry then it is not a major issue to me. However, to someone who is normally organised and in control their approach may appear less “swan like” because it isn’t how they planned it.

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