ADHD minds are creative visionaries, passionate artists, bold explorers, deep thinking poets, independent entrepreneurs, and many other personalities.
ADHD and VAST Personalities
Are you an ADHD or VAST mind? Do you dive into projects you are passionate about? Do you feel the need to have a purpose before you can get motivated? Are you mystified by people who are happy with a boring 9-5 job, even if it pays really well? These are signs of a VAST mind.
VAST is a new term to describe people who display ‘ADHD Traits’ but do not quite have ADHD. Read more about VAST and the connection to ADHD.
VAST (variable attention stimulus trait) minds have brains that are wired differently in a way that affects how they react to interest and attention. How each VAST or ADHD mind displays these traits is unique and fascinating, and results in many different personalities.
If you don’t have a VAST mind yourself, you definitely know and admire someone who does. We include: Pulitzer prize winners, Nobel prize winners, billionaires, doctors, lawyers, actors, trendsetters, entrepreneurs, inventors.
Read on to see if you recognize yourself or others in this selection of VAST / ADHD personality types.
Personality Types of the ADHD Mind
The Creative Visionary
The visionary ADHD/VAST minds are the dreamers, actors, inventors, architects, CEOs, poets, the list goes on…
We see possibilities where others only see obstacles. We percolate on an idea for a few days and then, Eureka! We see a beautiful solution.
It might be a very out of the box solution, that confuses others, but it is clear and obvious to us. With the right skills and support our vision becomes reality.
Our visionary ideas can, and have, changed the world. Examples of this VAST mind includes prolific inventor Dean Kamen and Caitlin D’Aprano, CEO and founder of Willpowered Women.
The Independent Entrepreneur
The entrepreneurial ADHD/VAST mind is a fiercely independent and energetic multitasker.
A high percentage of entrepreneurs have a VAST mind. Examples are Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA and David Neeleman, the founder of Jet Blue, who both credit their success to their ADHD/VAST minds.
VAST minds hate following rules that do not make sense to us, which often makes being our own boss a good fit.
While others prize job security, we are willing to take a risk on a new idea. That new idea becomes your favourite coffee shop, restaurant or bookstore.
The Deep Thinker
The deep thinking ADHD/VAST mind processes information thoroughly. Rather than just memorizing facts, this VAST mind wants to really understand a concept.
We can process an enormous amount of information and make connections between unrelated concepts. While we call ourselves deep thinkers, others see us as daydreamers.
Brookley Wofford is a VAST mind that channeled her deep thinking nature into becoming an expert in brand awareness who works with Fortune 500 companies.
The deep thinking VAST mind is at its best when channeled on a goal, because there is a risk of ruminating on negative experiences.
The Bold Explorer
The exploring ADHD/VAST mind is bold and risk taking, excited by stimulating activities. A beach vacation is not for us!
We prefer to explore a big city, go hiking, discover hidden gems for our relaxation. For some of us the activities may be more extreme: rock climbing, parachuting or parasailing.
The VAST mind craves novelty, as boredom is our kryptonite, so exploring is a natural fit.
Who do you think decided to first climb that mountain, swim across that channel or explore a new world? Likely a VAST mind.
The Highly Sensitive
The Highly Sensitive ADHD/VAST mind notices details that others miss, and cares deeply for others.
The VAST mind sensitivity may result in being irritated by certain fabrics, startled by sudden noises or bothered by bright lights. We may notice noises and odours that other people do not.
The VAST mind that cares for others can also be very sensitive to the feedback of others. Praise and compliments go a long way!
Conversely, we can be extremely sensitive to criticism. Some VAST minds find the possibility of rejection so painful that it affects their lives. They may have social anxiety and become conflict avoidant.
The Crisis Manager
This calm in a crisis ADHD/VAST mind is an energetic, multitasker who works well under pressure.
If we have the expert knowledge we can get in ‘the zone’, making decisions and acting quickly to manage a crisis while others are panicking.
Many VAST minds work as physicians, police officers, firefighters and other high stress jobs. A famous example is the VAST minded pioneer of neurosurgery Dr. Harvey Cushing.
Our brains work best under a certain amount of stress. However, we are more sensitive to chronic or extreme stress, and can suffer burnout more easily.
The Intuitive Empath
The intuitive ADHD/VAST mind can be highly empathic, picking up on small details others do not notice. We can often pick up on the emotions of a room full of people as soon as we walk in.
Some VAST minds feel they can predict the future and even wonder if they are psychic!
The VAST mind takes in all sorts of information, even what other minds filter out as ‘unimportant’. Our minds play with all these details and can come up with uncanny observations that seem prophetic in retrospect.
At the same time we can miss other details including social cues, which can lead to awkwardness and interpersonal conflict.
The Energetic Athlete
The ADHD/VAST mind has multiple traits that shine in athletic endeavours: comfort with risk, ability to multitask and make quick decisions, non linear thinking, and of course high energy.
Many famous athletes have VAST minds such as Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, Cammi Granato, and Michael Jordan.
Exercise is great for the VAST mind too! It is scientifically proven that exercise helps us be our best.
It is possible that activities requiring balance and stimulate a specific part of the brain, the cerebellum, may be of the greatest benefit.
Some ADHD/VAST minds feel like they could achieve so much more than they have. Their report cards often said ‘would do better if tried harder’.
This VAST mind is wasted in the wrong setting but in the right niche, VAST talents can shine!
One example is Sir John Gurdon. When he was 15 years old, his schoolmaster wrote that ‘his ambition to devote himself to science was quite ridiculous’.
With support he steadfastly pursued his goal and became a respected professor in cellular biology at Oxford University. In 2012 he became the co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology!
The Passionate Artist
The passionate ADHD/VAST mind can channel their creativity and sensitivity into the arts. VAST minds have an appreciation of beauty and excellence, and their masterpieces improve all our lives.
Artists can also use their talents to cause social change. They give voice to the oppressed, sharing stories in a way that affects us deeply and emotionally. Through well told stories, unknown situations are turned into reality right before us, drawing us in and inspiring us to participate in change.
Finding a creative outlet is equally beneficial for the VAST mind, which craves a focus with excitement and reward.
The Chronically Late
ADHD/VAST minds live in the moment, so focused on what we are doing that time slips by…
When we are with you, we are with you… but this can mean we forget where we need to be next.
It’s like we experience time differently, optimistically overestimating what we can do in a certain amount of time.
For the chronically late VAST mind, even arriving early for an appointment can be a problem. The extra time seems like opportunity to accomplish another a small task and …. you can see where this is going.
The Absent Minded Professor
The absent minded professor ADHD/VAST mind can focus and persevere, becoming an expert in a specific domain, but less so in other aspects of life.
One such VAST/ADHD mind is Dr. Ned Hallowell, Harvard educated physician and proponent of VAST minds. He recently recounted an embarrassing story about absent mindedly leaving his new iPhone in a washroom at Whole Foods!
VAST minds misplace objects like keys and phones very often, because our minds are busy on something else when we put them down.
The Overachieving People Pleaser
This overachieving ADHD/VAST mind is driven, and has a love of problem solving and helping people. But by taking on too many projects, and misjudging the time commitment required, things soon get overwhelming.
Our optimism and excitement in the moment leads us to say ‘Yes!’. We also hate letting people down, and may prioritize other’s needs above our own.
VAST minds that respond ‘I’ll think about it’, and take the time to fully consider commitments are far more successful. Focusing on the best use of our time and brain power to achieve our goals, makes a much happier VAST mind.
The Insatiably Curious
The curious ADHD/VAST mind is demonstrating one of our defining traits: asking ‘Why?‘
Many journalists have VAST minds, like Katherine Ellison, a Pulitzer-prize winning foreign correspondent. Adult ADHD/VAST minds love to dive into the research on a topic of interest, following every rabbit hole.
We’re the friend that you reach out to for an unusual piece of information. You know that even if we don’t know the answer, we’ll likely be able to point you in the right direction.
We can be curious about things that others are not, and our inquisitive nature can make us stand out. Sometimes our questions seem odd and we might be viewed as being judgemental or nosy.
The Loyal Friend
The loyal ADHD/VAST mind is highly sensitive, generous and big hearted. We love to make other people happy, and are very loyal to our friends.
We are always ready to help at a moment need, often willing to give the shirts of our backs.
Being with the right partner and surrounded by the right friends is extremely important for the VAST mind.
We thrive surrounded by those who support and encourage our talents, not those taking advantage of our loyal and generous nature.
The Catalyst for Change
The change-making ADHD/VAST mind is non conformist, passionate and often very honest.
We have a strong sense of fairness and cannot stand injustice or hypocrisy which leads to us questioning the norm.
While others are satisfied with the answer ‘We’ve always done it this way’, this VAST mind sees the need for change. With our passion and conviction, we can persuade others to join the cause, resulting in major change.
Sometimes our honesty is not always to our advantage, whistleblowers are not always rewarded for their efforts. Socially, we can be seen as overly blunt.
The Night Owl
The Night Owl ADHD/VAST mind feels most productive and alert in the late hours.
Since we tend to live in the moment, we are also likely to binge watch ‘just one more’ episode despite the late hour.
Having adult ADHD/VAST often leads to not getting enough hours sleeping each night. Which is a problem as the VAST mind is sensitive to sleep deprivation.
Even once we are in bed, our VAST mind may keep us awake going over a multitude of ideas that are far more interesting than sleep!
There is a biological reason to this ADHD Night Owl effect, caused by a delay in the onset of natural melatonin production.
The Highly Tenacious
The tenacious ADHD/VAST mind can be extremely focussed and hardworking when we are interested in an idea.
It has been suggested that Thomas Edison, who tried thousands of materials to get the right material for the filament in his electric light bulb, had a VAST mind.
He famously said ‘ Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.’
We can be very driven and will push ourselves towards a goal. This tenacious focus on an idea, called hyperfixation, can become so intense and overwhelming that it can affect our health if not managed well.
The Exhausted Perfectionist
The perfectionistic ADHD/VAST mind has high standards for themselves and others. This mind sees a ‘right way’ for things to be done! If only every one else realized this, things would be fine!
We can have a talent for seeing flaws but can share our opinion very bluntly, which can strain relationships. And we can find flaws in ourselves, even picking at our skin or scalps or chewing our cheeks when under stress.
This perfectionist attitude can result in excellent work but at great cost. Perfectionism can cause stress and easily escalate to burnout of the VAST/ADHD mind.
The comedic ADHD/VAST mind, including comedians Howie Mandel and Jim Carrey, can have a quirky sense of humor.
Spontaneous, highly energetic and creative, with non-linear thinking, we look at the world in a different way.
We can be the life of the party and often were the class clown.
This VAST mind may have felt like an awkward, social misfit growing up. These experiences can be channeled into sarcasm and dark humour.
The procrastinating adult ADHD/VAST mind can visualize the end result but can have trouble getting going.
Once we dive into a project it may be hard to pull us out, but getting organized and started? That can be an issue.
There are lots of tricks to overcome this issue. VAST Mind Mel Robbins invented her ‘5 Second Rule’ herself to deal with her procrastination during a difficult time in her life.
The VAST Mind: Endless Possibilities
Did you recognize yourself or your friends in this list?
This is just a sample of the possible personalities of the ADHD/VAST mind. There are many ways that the traits of the VAST mind can be expressed.
The main thing is that our minds focus on what we find stimulating, and this is different for each person. We are highly motivated by interest, novelty, creativity, competition, and urgency.
Once you understand what motivates your specific VAST mind, you can create your own mind manual, understanding your strengths and weaknesses much better. You can learn tools like Non-Sleep Deep Rest Protocols to hack your brain to success.
Learn to take care of your brain. Because when set up well, the VAST mind can change the world.