That’s the word that comes to mind most often in a discussion about ADHD coaching.

And it’s true.  A lot of ADHD Coaches help you set up a new structure for habits and routines and then help you stick to it.

I’ve never been an “accountability coach.”

In fact, it makes me break out in hives. (I may be allergic to accountability coaching.)

For years, I have been secretly ashamed that I was not living up to the title “ADHD Coach.” When I went to conferences that offered a “Senior Coaching Forum,” I never attended them. It was too dangerous to potentially come face to face with the ugly truth that I have been doing it “wrong.”

Perhaps I have been undermining the very profession I worked so hard to join.  Maybe I’ve been faking it! Me, the proudly Authentic Woman? Faking it? A little shiver runs down my shame spine.

And then, another, even more devastating truth: this experienced ADHD coach is still at the mercy of her own ADHD. I forget my commitments. I am surprised by a scheduled phone call. I feel like I am running to catch up most of the time.

Some of my coach friends tell me about their clever notebooks and schedules. They seem to be quite capable and successful. I feel inadequate; I can’t get everything done no matter how many hours I put in. It’s discouraging. It sounds like I need accountability. Nope.

I realized today that what I need is an ADHD coach. Not an accountability coach who will ask patient questions about my day and then call me to task when I screw up (as I will, trust me, I will).

What I need is someone to simply remind me of what I am working on. To hold up that clear view mirror so I can see whether I am wandering in a direction that is tempting but not really so important (because “important” sometimes equates to “boring”).

I need someone who understands that I will not bring the same issue to our sessions week after week (a.k.a. “accountability”). In fact, I will guarantee that there will be new problems or drama each and every time we speak. I want someone who can help me FUNCTION better as an ADHD woman in her 60s (ouch, it hurts to admit to that age…).

And then it hit me. That’s a description of my own ADHD coaching. I’m not a coach with sharp pencil points and a checklist for each of my clients. I am a functional ADHD Coach. I help people (mostly women) find a way out of their own fog so they can function inside their ADHD lives.

I certainly have the latest info on diagnosis and medication and supplements and organizing apps. I can dance to that tune quite beautifully. But my real gift is going deeper. Digging underneath all those practical “solutions” and getting down to the heart of the matter. The Authentic You.

You can get all that other stuff from the internet, from webinars, from books. You can find an accountability coach who will hold your feet to the fire. And that may be what you need right now.

But  (if you’ve read this far) my guess is that you need what I need: someone who isn’t out to tame my ADHD or whip it into submission but who, gently and carefully, reminds me of what’s important (to me). Someone who won’t indulge my sadness or shame, but instead will notice when I finish stuff (I often race right by it in my hurry to get to the next project) and remind me to applaud myself. Someone who isn’t shocked that I still have piles even though I am supposed to be “together” as an ADHD coach.

I guess I want ME as a coach. But that’s like trying to tickle yourself — it’s not funny and it doesn’t work.

My advice to you today is to let your mind wander a bit, as I allowed my thoughts to scatter. Then allow yourself to imagine a you who is calmer and more in control of your life. And finally, daydream a solution: if you could put someone on your “team” whom you could trust to enter that deepest, most private and probably embarrassing part of your ADHD life, what would he or she be like? What would that person do with and for you?

Most importantly, are you looking for someone who will help you fend off and satisfy the demands of others or someone who will truly listen to your own demands (that little girl in your heart is stamping her foot with impatience!).

My advice to me is to find an ADHD coach who shares my values of authenticity and determination and who will hold up that mirror so I can remind myself of where I’m going and who I am going with.