In 2004 I worked as a clerk part time at EB Games in San Jose, California. My buddy Chris was the manager and we spent more time geeking out to the products than actually selling them. It was a fun job, a good team to be on. In November of 2004 World of Warcraft was released and our products shipped early and as we worked there we took home our copies a week early. We logged in a week early, we started the addiction a week early.
Everyone has their demons. I’m a geek. I’m a gamer. Sure, I’m this SEO guy you know now, but I used to be something else. I used to be a Warcraft Addict.
I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Not in that fun way you were diagnosed as a kid because you needed a good ass whoopin’ but in the real deal easily distracted, struggle to focus kind of way. Working alone as a freelancer, it was fine, I always did things at the last minute but for the most part I got the work done. Alone.
Making the leap from One Man Show to the Image Freedom you may now know, well, that required a team. How does the easily distracted guy lead a team? It has been an adventure, to say the least. I’ve never worked eight hour shifts, not since I was hired by Nintendo following my employment at EB Games. Even for Nintendo I’d work longer hours more broken up, extended lunches, extended breaks, working my own schedule but one that gave me the room to refocus and get the job done.
We certainly work an eight hour day in the office, and one of the topics circulating my mind lately has been medication for ADHD. There are certainly medications out there that people have had a lot of success with, but at what risk? When I started playing World of Warcraft, there were more days than I’d care to admit where I’d play from the moment I’d wake up to the moment I went to sleep, be that at 7 in the morning at times, logging off only after my little virtual friends all over the world finally went to sleep. I was an addict.
I’m deathly afraid of doing anything I could become addicted to, and just like Mr. Mackey said on South Park: “Drugs are bad, mkay.” Adderall, may be the most common ADHD medication, but is also an amphetamine drug. A quick browse of the Wiki article states that Adderall is a “Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substance Act due to having significant abuse and addiction potential.” That isn’t vert encouraging!
When I was a child I had a mentor named Adam. He was a programmer, a web guy, not unlike the man I’ve grown into. He struggled with ADHD and took medication to combat it. He was the example my family wanted me to follow, the excuse to heavily medicate me, because it was so clearly working for Adam. One day I got a phone call from Adam’s fiance, he’d killed himself. Asphyxiated by a plastic bag, found with a note in his home.
Yea that put the fear of God in me, let me tell you. Was this my future? Everyone loved preaching the similarities. No. I was going to make my own way, follow my instincts, even if that was against the advice of others. I was going to learn from Adam, but not repeat his mistakes.
Everyone has their demons. I don’t want to let addiction become mine, as I know it has been in the past, as I know it was for Adam. Experiencing some growing pains as the business expands, as I expand. I’m proud, and I’m excited by everything we’ve experienced, the good and the bad. Hell, especially the bad. It seems like the mistakes, the failures, are what improves the business the most. I am almost excited by failure, knowing that each misstep will be a catalyst for change. Still, I struggle every day with focus, with the frustration I see on my peers faces when I jump topics, when I get distracted.
The very thing that used to be the secret to my creative success as an individual, has become my bane as a team member, as a business leader, as a boss. Is medication the answer? I really hope it isn’t. I want to find another way.
Everyone has their demons. I’m afraid addiction is one of mine.