An ADD Case Study: What Does it Mean to Fail?

Josh is a client of mine who is a junior in college. He's very smart. He's amazingly smart. Talk to Josh for an hour and you'll know how smart he is. But if you don't know Josh and you look at his grades from previous semesters, you would probably guess that he wasn't smart at all.

Josh gets frustrated in school. He works hard, but often finds that the pressure of test taking overwhelms him, and his grades suffer for it.

Recently, Josh had a midterm in his Economics class. He knew it would be tough. He hates this class, but it's required for his Business major. He had one test in the class already, which he did not pass. For the midterm, there were 3 books to review, and pages upon pages of notes to memorize. But he was determined to get an A. Three weeks prior to the test, he began setting aside review time. He highlighted the books, and took notes on them. He rewrote his notes to memorize them. And he even formed a study group with some of his classmates.

The morning of the test, Josh felt good. He had plenty of rest the night before, he ate a good breakfast, and he was ready to ace his Economics test. He got to the classroom, ready to go, and when the test was handed out and he flipped through it, he froze. The test was four pages long, with short answer questions, math problems, and an essay. Even though he had studied so hard, Josh started to doubt himself. He did his best to push past the anxiety and overwhelm and finish the test. Then he went back to his dorm room and slept. He was physically and emotionally spent.

A week went by before Josh got his test back. It was a B. He had studied so hard, he knew the material, and yet all he got was a B. He was crushed. "I did the best I could, I worked so hard to overcome this test-taking fear, and I failed."

"What exactly did you fail at?" I asked.

"I got a B," he replied. "I put so much work into that test that I should have got an A."

For Josh, it was very easy to look at the situation and see failure. He wanted an A. He wanted to prove to himself, his parents, and his professor that he could ace this test. And Josh was so busy holding himself up to unrealistic expectations, that he completely missed his successes:

  • He stuck to the structure that we created for him.

  • He developed excellent study habits to prepare for the test.

  • He got a B! He answered approximately 80% of the questions correctly, when just a month ago he wasn't passing the class.

    I pointed this out to Josh and, although he listened, he only half-heartedly agreed.

    Then, two days ago, I got this email from Josh:

    "Dear Jen,

    I got my philosophy test back today and guess what, I got an A-! I thought about what you said and realized that I have been doing really good studying this semester and I am doing better than I ever have. My dad is so excited about my B and A-. Thanks for pointing it out because sometimes its hard to see the good stuff."

    I agree. Sometimes it is hard to see the good stuff - whether you're a student, an artist, an office worker, a business owner, or a parent. When that happens, look harder. Even if you "fail," you'll still learn something about yourself or the situation you're in. And if you're learning, then you're really not failing, are you...?

    This story was shared with Josh's permission.

    About The Author

    Jennifer Koretsky is a Professional ADD Management Coach who helps adults manage their ADD and move forward in life. She encourages clients to increase self-awareness, focus on strengths and talents, and create realistic action plans. She offers a 90-day intensive skill-building program, workshops, and private coaching. Her work has been featured in numerous media, including The New York Times Magazine and The Times (UK). To subscribe to Jennifer's free email newsletter, The ADD Management Guide, please visit

  • The 7 Best Ways To Use Your Subconscious for Pain Relief

    Your subconscious has influence over 7 different factors that could be causing your pain. Here's... Read More

    How Toxic Is Your Home?

    We like to think of our homes as being a safe place to be--a refuge... Read More

    5 Low Cost Ways to Soothe the Sting of Sunburn

    Each of us most likely has at least one memory of nasty sunburn. Whether experienced... Read More

    Setting Up Your Office For Health

    If you work and are spending one third to one half of your day in... Read More

    Keeping Well When Monsoon Dwells

    First showers of monsoon are heartily welcomed by everyone after experiencing the scorching heat of... Read More

    Tea Tree Oil

    Tea Tree Oil is one of the most useful products in nature. It has been... Read More

    Air Fresheners, Or Are They?

    For years I've prided myself on believing that I take a very natural approach to... Read More

    Green Tea: An Oriental Panacea Revived

    A medicinal beverage in Asia for almost 4000 years, green tea is creating a splash... Read More

    Natural Alternatives vs. Prescription Drugs

    Natural Alternatives: A growing phenomenon across this world which is a very diverse concept... Read More

    Is Alternative Medicine Proven to Work?

    The most common objection to alternative medicine from conventional physicians is that it is "not... Read More

    Alternative Medicine, Complementary, Integrative, Wellness, Holistic ? What Do They All Mean?

    Alternative medicine has grown in so many ways in North America. More people are visiting... Read More

    Dangers of Dehydration - And The Importance of Kidney Cleansing

    The human body is composed of 75 percent water and 25 percent solid matter. To... Read More

    How to Protect Your Family Against the Coming Pandemic

    Most dictionaries define pandemic as "an epidemic that is geographically widespread; occurring throughout a region... Read More

    Gallbladder Disorders And How To Treat Them Using Natural Remedies

    The gallbladder is a 3 to 4 inch-long pear-shaped organ located on the right side... Read More

    Alternative Health Care is Under Attack by a Hidden Standard - The Unfortunate Case of Dr. Shortt

    A recent case in the news highlights an alarming trend in "alternative" health care-how difficult... Read More

    NMT: Trigger Point Therapy and What to Look for in a T Bar

    Massage therapy is as ancient as noodles. People have been striving to reach a state... Read More

    Natural Remedy for Bronchitis

    Bronchitis is a condition defined as the inflammation of the bronchi which results in persistent... Read More

    A 100% Drug Free Hemorrhoids Solution!

    Did you know every year 25 Million people in the USA are suffering from Hemorrhoids... Read More

    The Flu Hysteria and Your Family

    (originally in Nov. 2004 ZoneNet Newsletter)In this flu season, America is faced with a dilemma:... Read More

    Inflammatory Arthritis: Alternative Treatments

    There are two main types of arthritis: inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis. Inflammatory arthritis can be... Read More

    Precious Gems of Wisdom

    The New Age should also be called The Stone Age, because along with aromatherapy, healing... Read More

    Portrait of a Psychic / Intuitive

    Many people ask me how I started doing this work.As a child, my earliest memory... Read More

    The Benefits of Swedish Massage

    Swedish massage is the most common form of relaxation massage offering many relaxing as well... Read More

    Healing Waters of California

    Back in the late 1800's the railroad came to life. Track was laid from one... Read More

    Using Chinese Techniques For Your Health and Strength

    Chi Kung and T'ai Chi are only two of the keys to self trust and... Read More

    Pediatric CI Therapy - An Interview with Dr. Stephanie C. DeLuca

    As each day passes, medical research communities strive to find alternative means of evaluating and... Read More

    Alternative Medicine & Herbal Preparations

    Alternative medicine is gaining more attention every day. The idea that one can heal their... Read More

    How the Subconscious Reasons When It Communicates With You About Pain Relief

    The subconscious is a strange creature. It doesn't know what day it is, and can't... Read More

    Fruits and Juices Important for Relieving Hemorrhoids Part I

    Foods to AvoidChili Peppers It has been found that when you eat a lot of... Read More

    Headache, Hypnosis, And Stress, A Case History

    Now, more that ever, concerned physicians are beginning to ask about and understand the role... Read More

    Gout Pain Relief With Cherry Power - How To Ease Pain By Eating Fruit

    We can all learn something new every day! And good doctors are constantly alert to... Read More

    Biofeedback: Applying the Mind to Health

    What is biofeedback?In biofeedback you expand self-awareness and practice powerful self-healing under guidance. This is... Read More

    Health Improvements for Your Family

    Your husband always seems tired. Your son is always hungry. And your daughter? Well, she... Read More

    How I Overcame Anxiety/Panic Attacks

    Has this ever happened to you, out of the blue, for apparently no reason at... Read More

    Junk Food Is Not Easier To Eat

    There is something to be said about fast food being more convenient then healthy food... Read More

    Herbal Products

    HERBAL PRODUCTS are comprised of herbal care remedies, such as ointments like Tea Tree ointment.... Read More

    A Constipation Home Remedy - Cayenne

    Cayenne is a constipation home remedy that is effective in producing peristalsis in your colon... Read More

    Body Mass Index Is Not The Only Focus of Your Weight Loss Plan. Think About The Stress in Your Mind

    The first of January will bring a new group of folks out to the local... Read More

    Three Immune System Building Natural Remedies

    Here are three products that can help you elevate your immune system and lessen or... Read More

    The Macrobiotic Approach To Health And Wellness

    It may be an ordinary dance studio during the week, but on Sunday mornings this... Read More

    Massage Magic - Music & Touch

    What Massage Therapists Do!Have you ever thought what massage therapists actually do? Ideally, they provide... Read More

    Health - Its All in the Mind

    Do you ever listen to other people's conversations? I mean when you're standing at a... Read More

    The Writer As Activist

    Almost two years ago, before the release of my first book, "Short of a Picnic,"... Read More

    Six Smoothie Recipes for Constipation and Acne Relief

    I recommend drinking a morning smoothie if you have constipation or if you have skin... Read More

    Illness - What Can We do About it?

    Illness concerns everyone. How can we approach it? And what is the reason behind illness?... Read More

    Different Detox-cleansing Regimes

    Your body should clean itself naturally, but today's diets make that process difficult. Many turn... Read More

    Healing the Elements

    The Nature Elementals, most commonly known as Faeries, are the unseen guardians of the planet.... Read More

    How to Use the Subconscious to Cope with Body System Triggers of Your Pain

    The musculoskeletal, immune and endocrine systems can all be potent triggers of pain signals in... Read More

    What Is Reiki?

    Reiki is an ancient form of energy healing in which a properly attuned Reiki Practitioner... Read More

    Achieve Instant Calm

    For instant calm, try one or more of the following simple calming exercises, herbal allies,... Read More