If my brain is working really hard, can I be expected also to make the best decisions?

Cake or fruit?
That is the question.

Willpower and cognitive processing draw from the same pool of resources.

I should be making the handouts for my talk on SEO at the upcoming ACO conference. But it’s complicated:  the writing, the editing, the figuring out what is enough and what is probably too much.

I think I need a snack. Mmmmmmm … Sugared nuts my sister-in-law made for Christmas.  Probably not the best choice at 9 AM.  But that’s what my brain said I wanted.

Why did I not choose an apple, or an orange or one of those pretty-close-to-too-ripe bananas? And what does this have to do with people who live and work with ADHD?  As it turns out, a lot.

Kathy Sierra wrote in her blog, Serious Pony:

…165 grad students were asked half to memorize a seven-digit number and the other half to memorize a two-digit number.

After completing the memorization task, participants were told the experiment was over, and then offered a snack choice of either chocolate cake or a fruit bowl.

The participants who memorized the seven-digit number were nearly 50% more likely than the other group to choose cake over fruit.

Researchers were astonished by a pile of experiments that led to one bizarre conclusion:

Willpower and cognitive processing draw from the same pool of resources.

Said a different way,  if you (or someone you love or work with) is working on a problem—homework, moderating behavior at work, designing an algorithm or a grocery list—you’re using the same brain power as you’d use to choose to eat healthy, or exercise, or perhaps, remember to call your mother regularly.

If a person is pulled from a hyperfocus haze, the probability of that person choosing appropriate behavior—say civility to spouse or boss—is pretty low.

Here’s my question:

If ADHD coaches try to help clients get better at making decisions, what if the mere act of repeated deciding decreases the probability of making “good” decisions at all?

If too much information makes it hard for a client to “track” what you’re saying, then not only are you confusing them, you’re making it harder for them to choose “right.”

When I was editor of Circle, above all, I wanted what we published to be useful.  As a professional organization, I believe that what we publish should help others in the field find success using the lessons of those who are wiser. I’m glad if you were on TV. But how did you get there? That might be useful.

Now the better question seems to be:

..instead of “Is this useful?” perhaps we should raise the bar and ask “Will they use it?”

Maybe I’m rambling here. But I think there is something useful here. If you have an idea about that, I’d sure like to know about it. Write something in the comments!

Kerch McConlogue, We Fix Broken WebsitesKerch McConlogue, CPCC, used to be a coach and somehow can’t stop thinking about deciding and how coaches and coaching works for people with ADHD.  Now she helps coaches and other businesses people decide about their websites  at WeFixBrokenWebsites.com