Health and Fitness

Spartan CEO Says His ADHD Is His Greatest Strength. 'It's The Reason I'm Successful'

He used his disorder to turn a weakness into opportunity.

Most parents worry or panic when their kids are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD, already imagining the struggles that come with the condition. But raising a child with ADHD is no different from raising a child without it. Just because society has led us to believe that having a disability is limiting does not mean a person with the disorder can no longer succeed.

There are many success stories of people who’ve conquered the condition. One of them is Joe De Sena, founder, and CEO of Spartan, the world’s largest obstacle race and endurance brand. In an article for Business Insider, he calls ADHD his “greatest strength.”

“The kid who ‘can’t sit still,’ the guy who seems distant in conversation, the entrepreneur obsessed with one idea: I’m all of these things, but I don’t see them as negatives in the least,” he writes.

"Why would I see ADHD as a ‘weakness’? I can’t imagine living any other way.”

As a person with ADHD, De Sena is prone to overlooking or missing details, being unable to listen, having organizational issues, being forgetful, and being easily distracted. But his most obvious symptom is hyperfocus, which is the experience of deep and intense concentration on a subject, topic, or task. Instead of seeing it as a disadvantage, though, the CEO and dad says it actually helps him keep his attention on the things that matter.

“Sure, my mind has trouble sticking to one thing, but that means I don’t ruminate on irrelevant ideas or spend more than a minute feeling negative,” he writes. “When I’m hyperfocused on one idea, I make it great. I only ruminate on what truly matters, leaving all the irrelevant noise behind. So why would I see ADHD as a ‘weakness’? I can’t imagine living any other way.”


De Sena says that if he did not have ADHD, he’d lack “creativity, spontaneity, and a fast-paced lifestyle essential for entrepreneurship.” He reiterates that the disorder is the reason why he’s found success in life.

For parents whose child with ADHD, the challenge is to see beyond the disorder and to see it as something other than a weakness. And De Sena is proof that children with ADHD can do great things.

“I’m a firm believer that we should all admire the things about our challenges that make us who we are. No, I can’t sit for too long, but that’s why I’m fit. No, I don’t always think before I act, but that’s why I’m direct and honest with everyone I meet. No, I didn’t learn as well as others in the traditional classroom setting, but that’s why I have gritty determination to succeed,” he writes.

“My challenge to you: Tell yourself that every challenge is an opportunity to achieve success. Turn your struggle into triumph. Transform your “disorder” into an advantage,” he says.

De Sena’s advice isn’t just for people battling a condition — it’s for everyone who is struggling right now. Turn a weakness into strength and you’ll be able to conquer anything. Sometimes, all it takes is changing your perspective.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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