Now Presenting: ADHD

Measuring Success

June 13, 2023 Jaye Lin Season 1 Episode 11
Measuring Success
Now Presenting: ADHD
More Info
Now Presenting: ADHD
Measuring Success
Jun 13, 2023 Season 1 Episode 11
Jaye Lin

Is this something you resonate with? Seeing any bump in the road, setback, lack of overwhelming support or praise, or mistake as a signal of failure? Having those fears of failure be so strong that you tend to quit, and now you’ve started to doubt your abilities to follow through at all? If you do resonate with this, you’re not alone.

Now Presenting, ADHD, and Measuring Success

If you have questions or would like to give suggestions for future episodes, send us an email at To listen to all episodes, view show notes and transcripts, or learn more about host Jaye Lin, visit our website at Follow us on Instagram @npadhdpodcast and @adhdjaye.

Show Notes Transcript

Is this something you resonate with? Seeing any bump in the road, setback, lack of overwhelming support or praise, or mistake as a signal of failure? Having those fears of failure be so strong that you tend to quit, and now you’ve started to doubt your abilities to follow through at all? If you do resonate with this, you’re not alone.

Now Presenting, ADHD, and Measuring Success

If you have questions or would like to give suggestions for future episodes, send us an email at To listen to all episodes, view show notes and transcripts, or learn more about host Jaye Lin, visit our website at Follow us on Instagram @npadhdpodcast and @adhdjaye.

Hi. This is Now Presenting ADHD, where we look at common ways Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can present in individuals, explain what the root causes can be, and connect the experience to real humans. I’m your host, Jaye Lin. I’m an ADHD coach, instructor, and generally nice person.

This past December, I started a venture with fellow coach Ron Capalbo, who you’ll remember as a guest on the Optimization Trap episode. We noticed that the ADHD support community was separated into different corners. In each of these corners, there were ADHD coaches all together, therapists in another corner, medical providers over there, researchers in that corner, and social media and podcast content creators in an entirely separate space. It seemed rare for the different corners to collaborate on content, which was unfortunate, because having different perspectives on ADHD issues creates what I consider to be the best content for ADHD individuals.

So, we decided to create The Monoceros Initiative, named after the Monoceros constellation of a unicorn. Most of the stars that the Monoceros constellation is composed of are not visible to the naked eye, but when the lines are drawn, those otherwise unseen stars become part of something significant. This is how we saw what we were trying to do for those in the community who have something to say, but maybe not the platform, existing audience, and network to amplify those voices.

We launched Starboard, a collaboration cruise that would combine the best parts of ADHD networking, like getting to know people on a personal level, have fun, create connections for collaboration, and have discussions about ADHD treatments and support, without what we consider to be the worst parts of ADHD networking, like high costs that exclude major demographics and sectors, and being away from our families for many days out of the year. 

When we told our friends in the ADHD community about this cruise, designed to get many types of ADHD professionals and content creators to the same collaborative table, while being an event where they can bring their friends and families for the remainder of the time, the outpouring of support was deafening. Almost everyone we spoke to said something along the lines of “if you go through with this, I’m in.”

But, unfortunately, when push came to shove, there was a rude awakening. Once we launched the process and opened registration, suddenly, those loud voices of support grew silent. We watched as our expectations of the event went from 50 people saying they were definitely in, to expecting 25, to expecting 15. And when the final registration numbers came through, there were only 7 registered.

It would have been very easy for us to get disparaged from those numbers, but we didn’t. We redefined what our measure of success would be from this event, and then compared notes afterward. I’m proud of us for doing that, because our past selves probably would have given up at this point and scrapped the whole initiative.

Historically, I have been someone who has big optimization energy up front, but when things start to get hard, or results don’t come out the way I wanted them to be, it gets hard for me to continue. I would have a strong emotional response to what I considered to be failure, and self doubt, anger at others, and my inner critic would take over. Eventually, this became built into my self identity. I’m someone who quits, and I will never succeed.

Is this something you resonate with? Seeing any bump in the road, setback, lack of overwhelming support or praise, or mistake as a signal of failure? Having those fears of failure be so strong that you tend to quit, and now you’ve started to doubt your abilities to follow through at all? If you do resonate with this, you’re not alone.

Now Presenting, ADHD, and Measuring Success

<brief theme music>

As we’ve covered extensively already in this podcast, we ADHD individuals are big time optimizers. During the brainstorming and optimization phase, we have creative ideas that we consider much better solutions than the ones that currently exist. Also during the optimization phase, we get an enormous bump of dopamine, which pushes us to want to go forward with these optimal solutions, sometimes even when it’s beyond our experience, skill set, and bandwidth.

Aside from the obvious pitfalls that can happen after we get out of this optimization phase, like a drop in dopamine that makes it hard for us to do the massive task of planning and executing for the excess moving parts we’ve created for this optimized solution, and our time blindness giving us the realization that we maybe don’t have the capacity to execute on that big plan at all, one major factor keeps us from continuously following through on these solutions. While we are in the optimization phase, we tend to also optimize what success looks like.

For Starboard, when we were optimizing and asking others for their feedback on our ideas, everyone we spoke to thought it was an amazing idea. We started thinking we might have to limit the capacity of the first one, because more than 50 people were going to sign up!

But 50 people did not sign up. Not even 10. With a final count of 7, the old me would have counted this event as a major failure. But here’s the thing, it didn’t have to be a failure. The definition of failure did not have to be how many people sign up for the first one, really.

Because there are many reasons why people didn’t sign up. One is obvious. Everyone we spoke to has ADHD. They are also our friends. When we are excited, they are excited, and it’s easy for ADHD individuals to get caught in emotional swells before having to commit to anything. They may have really wanted to go, but once registration opened, intent gave way to practical reasons for not signing up. Many realized they were encountering financial hardship, and while the $300-500 it would cost to attend the event was much lower than other conferences and networking events, it is still a lot of money for those who are barely making ends meet, and also didn’t account for taking time off of work, air travel to the port, or family burden with caretaker needs. A few even purchased their air travel before family emergencies caused them to change their minds and stay home.

Also, a lot of people require more than a few months of planning to take a vacation. We had less than a three month lead time for the event, because we wanted to make sure we could make connections before talk submissions for the International Conference on ADHD were due. But that meant there may not have been enough time for some people to get all their ducks in a row to attend, and maybe they already had travel plans around that time set already.

Lastly, this was our very first event, and with all that people would be sacrificing to attend, it was not yet clear that we would be able to pull off what we intended. Many decided to wait and see how our events turned out. That’s reasonable. They don’t know what we’re capable of.

The bottom line was that the number of registrants for our first time event would not be an accurate measure of how good of a Starboard cruise we could put together. We did not have any control over how many people registered. It could be the best event ever, with the best programming ever, and the number of initial registrants would not reflect that, yet that was the intuitive measure for success for us. When we sat down and voiced our disappointment of our registration results to each other, we were able to decide how we wanted to define the success of Starboard, with the things that could accurately show our abilities and the quality of our programming.

We did not want to prematurely mark this as a failure for ourselves. We did that a lot in the past, as many ADHD folk do. “I’m going to give up now, because the result can’t be what I intended it to be anyway.” No. All that did for us in the past was give us a self-appointed reputation that we can’t follow through, and we’re not good at things. We wanted to see what we could do, and we weren’t going to give up.

There are three ways we can measure success in a way that allows us to continue or quit based on accurate data. After all, we don’t want to force ourselves to keep going if the effort we’re putting forward isn’t worth it. By creating accurate measures of success, we can keep going when the project is serving us, and quit when it is not.

We can measure success based on what makes sense in the situation. This is super important for ADHD people like us to keep in mind. We want optimized results. Sometimes, those optimized results are not practical for the situation. For a first ever event requiring people to spend hundreds of dollars without an established reputation from us, and with a short participant planning window? Lower numbers are actually to be expected. To take another perspective, with all those factors in place, it’s actually quite a success that 5 other people took a chance on Starboard.

The second is that we can measure success based on our personal value to continue. We said that we wanted to get collaborative value from the event as organizers, but we also decided that if participants didn’t want to attend another one, or if we couldn’t increase the numbers of the next Starboard, we would discuss shuttering the project. We said that we were happy to spend our free time organizing this event, but if years down the line, we are still not getting the numbers we need to cover our travel costs to put it on, it wouldn’t be worth our time to continue.

Again, this is important, as we ADHD individuals have cognitive inflexibility. It’s not uncommon for us to overcommit to doing something even after it stops serving us, which leads to resentment, misery, and inability to spend our time on the things that are truly important to us. Defining what would make it worth our time later allows us to gauge the success in a way that is accurate, and often uplifting to us.

The third way we can measure success is to create metrics to measure success around the purpose of what we’re doing. We created Starboard and The Monoceros Initiative in order to increase community, networks, collaborative content, and skill levels across participants. If we left how we measured our success of our purpose to how we “feel”, it would be easy for our negativity bias to cloud our actual achievements.

So, we assigned a rubric to measure the success of each of our intentions.

We wanted the event to be enjoyable and worth our participants time. If at least one out of the 5 participants wanted to attend a future Starboard event, we would consider that a success. With the exception of one participant who has a conflict with another retreat going on at the same time, all of our participants have committed to attending our second Starboard in September. That’s an overwhelming success. We also received overwhelmingly raving feedback from participants that we more than exceeded expectations for the cruise.

We wanted there to be collaboration on content between participants after the event. If there was at least one collaboration on content from participants going forward, this would be a success. Since the cruise, there have been guest spots on podcasts, social media interactions, support of each other’s programming, and referrals between participants. This was an overwhelming success, even outside of the conference acceptance results.

We wanted to increase the number of submissions for the International Conference on ADHD. If there was an increase in submissions for the 2023 conference over participants’ submissions for the 2022 conference, and/or an increase in acceptances, this would be considered a success. Well, I’m happy to report the results for that. For the 2022 conference, participants made a total of 3 talk submissions. They were all solo submissions, and did not contain any collaborative talks, panels, town halls, or workshops. Out of the 3 talk submissions in 2022, only one was accepted, mine.

For the 2023 conference, there were a total of 11 submissions from Starboard participants, 367% of the submissions of the year before. Seven sessions were accepted, 700% of the acceptances of the year before. 4 of the sessions accepted were panels, town halls, and workshops, and 3 of the 4 collaborative sessions contain two or more Starboarders. Oh, and out of the seven participants, six will be presenters at this year’s conference.

The best part of the conference submission successes was how we got there. After the cruise was over, participants said they wanted to stay close to everyone. We have a monthly reunion, and it’s like we never left. We were able to create the close bonds we set out to do, and create meaningful results. When submission time came, we leaned on each other, offering support, sharing skills, and collaborated on the submissions, even for solo talks. We were able to get past imposter syndrome, self-doubt, intimidating tasks, and jumbled brains with the power of community. That was what we set out to do, and we have definitely succeeded.

So, it would have been easy for us to become discouraged by low numbers for our first Starboard, but by defining what we consider to be measures of our success, we were able to keep our momentum going, and our rubric of success continues to give us validation and reassurance.

Our next Starboard cruise is scheduled for September 22-25, and registration is open through the end of June. More info can be found at If you are an ADHD professional, advocate, and/or content creator, we welcome you to join us. If you don’t decide to join, we hope you can cheer us on with our success.

You’ve made it to the end of the episode on Measuring Success. To recap, it’s easy for us ADHD individuals to optimize what success looks like, which can lead to us becoming disparaged or giving up when initial results aren’t what we hoped they would be, or when there are bumps in the road. This can lead to a self-appointed reputation of us not being able to follow through on anything, or that we aren’t capable of pulling things off. We can avoid this and our negativity bias by measuring our success in these three ways: 1. Measuring our success based on the situation, with reasonable expectations for where we are in the journey. 2. Measuring our success based on value to us to continue, so we don’t overcommit to something that doesn’t serve us. And 3. Measure our success based on metrics assigned to our purpose for this project, so we can be objective in evaluating how we did, even if our inner critics get loud.

Oh, and if you’d like to join us for our next Starboard cruise for ADHD professionals and content creators, go to

If you found this episode enjoyable or informative, please tell your friends and family members with ADHD, and/or give us a review wherever you get your podcasts. If you want to read transcripts or show notes, find out more about me, Jaye Lin, or give suggestions on future episodes, please go to our website, That’s the acronym for Now Presenting: ADHD, Or you can follow us on Instagram, at NPADHD. Thanks for listening, and we hope to see you again soon!