Contributions of Those with Wandering Minds

Mike had been a concern to his parents ever since he started to school. His teachers were constantly mentioning his lack of attention. Even with his attention issues, Mike generally had the best grades of his classmates. In fact, the times when Mike was more focused was when he was helping tutor other students.

Mike’s parents resisted getting him tested for attention issues. In high school, his attention issues continued but faculty began to accommodate him and find ways to use his wandering mind to his and other students’ best interests.

College was an interesting experience. Faculty found out early on that Mike had a way of thinking outside the box. While working in labs, he came across ideas that were converted into research proposals. Mike however would lose interest in his own ideas and move on to other thoughts for new research directions. Mike’s grades were adequate, but he barely passed classes where there was limited use of his imagination.

When Mike graduated, he struggled finding a job. He just did not come across very well in interviews as his mind would wander and his answers were often a meandering journey of seemingly disconnected responses. His advisor/mentor needed to intervene with a former student who had an innovative company.

Two years later, the professor got a call from the former student who hired Mike. At first he was dreading answering the call, but then his former student said: “I want to tell you that Mike saved my company. You were right in your assessment of his value. He came up with ideas for three more products that have become our major revenue producers. You were also right in that Mike quickly loses interest in his creations. That’s fine. We have lots of product developers. What we don’t have are those who can create new ideas. I’ve given Mike a blank portfolio. He’s free to do his thing. Again, thanks for urging me to hire someone who probably wouldn’t pass our hiring criteria.”

Just imagine the human talent that is lost when we are looking for “cookie cutter candidates” who meet an artificial set of criteria. Minds think differently, and often those different minds are the missing talent in our organizations. We often don’t do justice to those who are neurodiverse, but they can play a special role in our society.

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“Neurodiverse individuals are often wired with characteristics that enable them to succeed in areas where others fail.”– Harvard Health Publishing

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