Inside-Out Solutions

Coach Jeff Copper explains why both observation and experimentation are critical to finding strategies that work for you.

Jeff writes:  "From years of coaching, I've learned in working with individuals that you have to realize there are two processes: An inside process, which takes place in your mind, and an external process, which takes place outside your mind.  All too often, experts offer normative external systems, hoping the method aligns with the internal process of the individual.  Sometimes this strategy works. Frequently it doesn’t, especially for those with ADHD.  I find it more effective to focus on whatever a person's internal process is and try to mirror it externally.

Here's an example.  Mary came to me for coaching on time management.  Typically, the suggested solution would be to use some form of a calendar. In Mary’s case, calendars were not working.  In coaching Mary and listening to how she sees time, that is, as a river, we began to understand how she naturally observes and manages time in her mind.  The river concept gave us a clue that a timeline moves left to right like a river and decided to give it a shot.  Eureka! It worked.  What's funny is that timelines are not something we would find in the self-help section of the bookstore, yet for Mary, this is an effective solution.

Another thing I’ve learned in coaching and studying attention is that our society is all about convenience.  It’s convenient if we are all the same.  Here is your one-size-fits-all solution and you’re on your way.  If that solution doesn’t work, then, conveniently it creates a new market. The “I’m broken” market with people lined up at the door, money in hand, eager to buy the one-size-fits-all quick fix that doesn’t work any better than the one before. 

Helping people witness their attention patterns (natural patterns of attention) isn’t easy. Attention is unique. Only you can observe what you are attending to... for the same reason you’ve never observed what others attend to. In the end you have nothing to compare it to.  It is possible to learn to witness it, but it takes time, and it is inconvenient for society and therefore is ignored.

Let’s study the two graphics below. Both represent the day’s events on January 31.  A few of you will notice that you have to shift your thinking process to wrap your head around the different visual representations of the same data.  For those who do, congratulations! You’ve just witnessed your attention.


So what’s my point?  When it comes to the science of one… the science of you… if the obvious solution isn’t working, chances are you’re attending to the wrong thing.  Society attends to one-size-fits-all external processes only. If these don’t’ work for you, consider learning how to witness your internal processes. Chances are, it will give you clues and/or define what external processes will work for you.


A certified ADHD coach based in Tampa, Florida, Jeff Copper, PCC, PCAC, MBA, specializes in coaching adult individuals and entrepreneurs who have been diagnosed with ADHD later in life.  He is a speaker, an attention expert, and host of Attention Talk Radio and Attention Talk Vide, and the founder of DIG Coaching Practice. You can learn more about Jeff at