The Richard Branson Guide to Harnessing Your ADHD

Richard Branson sat on his private beach, the golden sands of Necker Island spread out before him. The setting sun painted the sky in hues of oranges and purples, and the gentle waves of the Caribbean whispered tales of faraway places.

For most, such a serene setting would be a tranquil refuge. But for Branson, his mind was as restless as the sea, always churning with ideas, ventures, and dreams. “A whirlwind,” he often described it, “A tempest of creativity that never really settles.”

He recalled his younger years, filled with academic struggles and the label of “underachiever.” Teachers would often reprimand him for daydreaming or chastise him for his inability to focus on tasks they deemed ‘important’. But inside, young Richard felt a fiery passion, a fervor that traditional classrooms simply couldn’t contain.

One evening, his mother pulled him aside. “Richard,” she began, “You have a gift. It may not be the one that fits neatly inside the confines of a classroom, but it’s there. Your mind, with its ceaseless energy, will take you places if you harness it right.”

As he grew, Branson understood this “gift” was ADHD. While society often saw it as a disorder, Richard chose to view it as his unique advantage. It was the engine behind his insatiable curiosity, willingness to take risks, and resilience in the face of failure.

Years later, when he founded Virgin Records, that same restless energy drove him to disrupt industries, from music to airlines to space travel. Each venture, in its own way, reflected his ADHD — audacious, innovative, and slightly rebellious.

Back on Necker Island, Branson smiled, thinking about his journey. He reached down and picked up a kiteboard, feeling its smooth surface against his fingers. Kiteboarding, like his ADHD, was about harnessing powerful, unpredictable forces. One could ride the winds and waves to unparalleled heights with the right balance.

He once said, “ADHD is not my disorder; it’s my superpower. It has its challenges, sure. But it’s also the very thing that propels me forward, urging me to dream bigger, fly higher, and explore every corner of this incredible world.

Being an entrepreneur can often feel like piloting a balloon across the Atlantic — especially if you have ADHD. There are days when the winds are in your favor and when you’re trying to avoid getting tossed into the sea by a rogue gust. Over the years, I’ve realized there’s a little trick to navigating these unpredictable skies: SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). It sounds like something out of a bureaucratic handbook, but bear with me.

1. Charting Your Course in a Storm

When darting from one idea to the next, a day can fly by faster than a kite in a hurricane. One moment, you’re working on a pitch. Next, you’re wondering about the aerodynamics of a flamingo (fascinating, by the way).

SOPs to the Rescue: Think of SOPs as your flight plan. They remind you of the route when the ADHD winds try to blow you off course.

2. Steady As She Goes

Consistency, as I’ve often said, is key. It’s what took Virgin from a small record shop to the global brand it is today. But with ADHD, consistency can sometimes feel as elusive as a quiet day on Necker Island.

SOPs to the Rescue: SOPs are like our training manuals for Virgin’s crew. It doesn’t matter if the waters are calm or choppy; the service and experience remain top-notch.

3. Your Balloon’s Instruction Manual

Ever jumped into one of your businesses, knowing you’ve nailed a task before, but for the life of you, can’t recall how? Happens to the best of us!

SOPs to the Rescue: With SOPs, you’ve got your trusty instruction manual. No need to rediscover the wheel (or, in Richard’s case, the best way to tether a balloon).

4. Sharing the Controls

One thing Richard has always advocated for is delegation. But explaining a task can sometimes feel tougher than kite-surfing across the Channel.

SOPs to the Rescue: With a well-crafted SOP, it’s like handing over the controls to a co-pilot who’s been trained by you. They know how to steer the ship (or spaceship, if you’re feeling particularly Virgin Galactic).

5. Flying with Confidence

Every entrepreneur, ADHD or not, knows the occasional shadow of doubt. Those nagging questions, “Have I forgotten something?”

SOPs to the Rescue: With an SOP in your pocket, it’s like having autopilot. You can lean back, enjoy the view, and know you’re on course. When you get to your next destination you can always review your processes and make some tweaks to your next flight plan.

Making SOPs that Truly Soar

Before you dash off, inspired to craft your game-changing SOPs (or maybe chase another brilliant idea), try these five tips to improve your SOPs

  1. A Splash of Color: Jazz up those SOPs! Add videos, diagrams and doodles — make it a visual treat.
  2. Keep It Snappy: Break tasks down. Think of it as the difference between a long-haul flight and a quick island hop.
  3. Stay Agile: Your first SOP might not fly perfectly. Tweak it as you go along. Adaptability is the name of the game.
  4. Always Within Reach: I keep most of mine in Google Docs. Whatever tool you use, ensure your SOPs are just a tap away.
  5. Celebrate the Wins: Every smooth landing, every project launch — toast to it! Reinforce the brilliance of flying by the SOP.

Tying it All Together

Life as an ADHD entrepreneur is thrilling, filled with unexpected turns and boundless horizons. While the energy and zest are exhilarating, even the most daring adventurer needs a map. SOPs are that map. They ensure that the destination is always in sight amid the whirlwind of ideas and excitement.

So, strap in, chart your course, and let’s take to the skies. And remember, if all else fails, another adventure is waiting just around the corner. 

You can get the Quickstart Guide to Creating SOPs that Don’t Suck and Get Great Results. It’s a game changer for any overwhelmed business owner.

If you would like to learn more about using your ADHD to your advantage check out my friend’s Jesse Anderson Website. He describes himself as ADHD Jesse. He is an amazing resource for you.


Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

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