One of my sons recently “accused” me of having ADD or ADHD. “I don’t!” I protested, “I’m a creative. I just happen to have a short interest span.” Today, I would probably be medicated. I was fortunate to attend a public school in New York City that was one of five singled out to experiment with the teaching methods of the philosopher, John Dewey, the so called “Activity Schools.” I was a perfect candidate since their dictum of “Learning by Doing” suited my lack of interest in rote memorization. I hated the highly disciplined teaching style I encountered later on in an all-girls Junior High School that was run like a nunnery. My husband (a clinical psychologist) was fond of saying that, given my hatred of routine and repetition, he had no idea how he lasted as long with me as he did (fifty years).
Anyhow, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to tame my tendency to wander when I have to and can apply my rear to the seat of a chair when it is required. I agree with my husband that my short interest span is not pathological, but simply a different way of doing things. If properly channeled, my creativity is enormously useful, especially if I can partner with someone who likes to fuss with the details. When I write something that needs to be technically perfect like the newsletter I write, I hand it over to my friend Colin who whips it into shape, not a comma out of place. And with artwork, the guy who rakes my leaves has turned out to be a perfect studio assistant; he can stretch canvases like nobody else I have ever seen.
Many years ago, I had a friend who owned a highly successful state-of-the-art engineering company with about thirty employees. He had a theory about hiring that worked very well for him and, now that I think about it, works for me. He hired people whom he designated as “Starters” or “Finishers.” These qualities rarely appeared in one person and by not demanding that his employees be able to do both well, he got the best out of them. The Starters had brilliant, innovative ideas, but got bogged down and unhappy when they had to deal with details and implementation. On the other hand, there were people who were great at follow-through, but couldn’t come up with a creative idea if their life depended on it. By separating the functions and giving them to people who were good at what they did, he came up with some amazing innovations in the field of telecommunications and his company did exceedingly well.
The point is, I’m a Starter. I’m good at coming up with new ideas, but get bored when the creative part is over. I’m happiest when accompanied by a “Finisher,” somebody who likes the details, getting everything right. I have no patience for follow up and, as my parents used to complain, I have no “sitz-fleisch,” meaning, no meat on my behind.