Attention Deficit Disorder is often understood to be debilitating, and people who don’t know what it’s like to live with ADD assume that the condition is a handicap that constantly holds its sufferers back in life.
Most people don’t know that many successful and even famous people not only lived with ADHD but thrived with it. In fact, many well known celebrities have attributed their success to their Attention Deficit Disorder.
It’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, celebrities are people just like you and me – plus gigantic bank accounts and international followings. Many ultra-successful famous people with ADHD have spoken about their condition and how it has both helped and hindered them over the years. Athletes, actors and actresses, entertainers, and entrepreneurs all make up our list of famous people with ADHD.
Let’s look at a few of these people who overcame their “disability” and learned to use their symptoms to fuel creativity and productivity:
Albert Einstein had one of the most brilliant minds of all time. His most famous discovery was the Theory of Relativity, which had a tremendous impact on the scientific community. In his day, there was no such thing as “attention deficit disorder” so he simply lived with his symptoms since no medication or therapy was available.
We think that this was a good thing. Perhaps his symptoms fueled his passion for scientific discovery and creativity, allowing him to think outside the box and make unprecedented breakthroughs in his field.
Everyone knows that Bill Gates is one of the richest people in the world. He created Microsoft, the most successful computer manufacturing company to date, when he was just 21 years old. His revolutionary user interface, Microsoft Windows, changed the way that humans interact with computers for good.
Gates continues to influence the technology industry with his innovative thinking, and he uses his fortune to help make positive change in the world with The Gates Foundation.
Most people don’t know, however, that ADHD caused Gates to struggle in school and is part of the reason that he never finished college. He constantly read ahead of class and pursued his own intellectual interests instead of following the curriculum. We’re glad he had ADHD, because if he didn’t, who would have invented the personal computer?
Emily Dickinson is one of the most famous and innovative American poets of all time. She wrote about friends, nature, love and death. Her style evolved from an educated, traditional voice to a more creative, unconventional format. Her work had a tremendous impact on the world of poetry.
Even though ADD had not yet been discovered and named while she was alive, we know now that Dickinson experienced symptoms that are nowadays attributed to Attention Deficit Disorder. She even wrote about this in one of her poems:
I felt a Cleaving in my Mind—
As if my Brain had split—
I tried to match it—Seam by Seam—
But could not make it fit.
The thought behind, I strove to join
Unto the thought before—
But Sequence ravelled out of Sound
Like Balls—upon a Floor.
Emily Dickinson’s ADD symptoms seemed to spark creativity in her and allow her to write unconventionally, adopting new styles and methods that hadn’t previously been used.
Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player of all time. Some people think that there are younger players who will prove to better than he was, but everyone can agree that he will always be considered one of the greatest.
Most people don’t know, however, that Jordan is one of many incredible athletes who struggle with ADD or ADHD. Jordan succeeded by working hard and practicing more than his peers. One of his most famous quotes touches on this:
I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
Michael Jordan is a great role model for anyone (especially kids) who think that their ADD is holding them back from succeeding in life.
This ADHD rebel billionaire, the infamous Founder and CEO of Virgin (which just happens to be a massive cash-generating empire) struggles with ADHD and dyslexia. Branson has spoken about how he made ADHD “work” for him, by following his “crazy” dreams, instead of attempting to abide by social conventions.
A mobile phone service provider, an international airline, and space exploration are just a few of the avenues Richard Branson has walked down while making gobs of money. He is one of the most globally well-known famous people with ADHD.
A renown professional ballroom dancer, Smirnoff graduated from Fordham University with a double major in economics and information system programming. She had planned on becoming an attorney, but dancing was in her blood and she attended a dance school in Brooklyn, New York instead. After some time there, she decided to continue as a professional dancer.
She is best known today as one of the recurring performers on Dancing With the Stars. Her secret to success, which has helped her become one of the most famous people with ADHD, is that she can practice her moves for 14 to 16 hours a day and still have energy.
Dance is, she reports, also one of the only things that she never gets bored by. Since she does not take medication to manage her symptoms, she relies primarily on exercise to keep her focused and centered.
A singer-songwriter, frontman of Maroon 5, and coach on The Voice Adam Levine is one talented dude, and he is one of the most famous people with ADHD. Levine is a multi-instrumentalist vocalist, pianist, guitarist, and bassist.
Adam was diagnosed with ADHD as a teenager, and he started an educational campaign in 2011 called “Own It.” “Own It” is dedicated to spreading awareness of ADHD, and encouraging folks with ADHD to take responsibility for their deficits through multifaceted treatment approaches.
This chef, restaurateur and TV personality is famous for creating cookbooks, television shows, and campaigns for healthy eating geared especially toward the public school system. Oliver was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, and he has recently said that he has found healthy diet to be an integral part of managing his symptoms.
Many people dealing with ADHD find working in a kitchen soothing, as it allows them to jump from station to station, work at a breakneck pace, and explore different cuisines. Jamie has definitely done that, and because of it he is on our list of famous people with ADHD.
JT is a singer-songwriter, actor and all-around mega-celebrity. Clearly, he hasn’t let his Attention Deficit Disorder stop him. The constant physical activity of performing and the creative outlets of choreography and songwriting have allowed him to exploit the positive aspects of his ADHD. His experience with ADHD is much more common than most realize – he also suffers from mental illness with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Co-morbidity, which is defined as the presence of one or more disorders (or diseases) in addition to a primary disease or disorder, or the effect of such additional disorders or diseases, is common in men and women with ADHD, whether they are famous or not. Anxiety, depression, OCD, and bipolar disorder show up regularly alongside diagnoses of ADHD. He has stated that he has definitely struggled with his symptoms, but he’s made it work, and that’s why he makes our list of famous people with ADHD.
We all know this famous twin as an actress, child star and entrepreneur. Putting Mary-Kate on the list of famous people with ADHD was a no-brainer for two reasons. 1) She had a speculated net worth of over $130 million dollars by the age of 18. 2) She suffers not only from ADHD, but also from an eating disorder and depression.
MK is another example of how famous people with ADHD often have co-morbid illnesses that can make overcoming symptoms even more of a struggle. The entertainment industry, Mary-Kate has said, gave her a creative outlet that helped her focus her energy and mind on something productive.
They come from all walks of life, make millions of dollars, become internationally known celebrities, and they all do it with ADHD. Famous people with ADHD are just like you and me. They found their niche and followed their dreams.
Finding your passion and carving out your niche can help you become a great success with the help of your ADHD. Remember, that it can be a blessing if you figure out how to use it.
Did we miss anyone? Do you know of any other famous people with ADHD? Let us know by leaving a comment in the comments section below!