How do you solve problems? “Whack-a-Mole” or Insecticide?

Cindy JobsHealth and Well-Being

Note: Whack-a-Mole is a game. I do not, in any way, shape, or form, condone animal cruelty. 

It was in my corporate management days when I first heard about the “Whack-a-Mole” style. The opposite of the “Whack-a-Mole” style was referred to as the insecticide style.

What’s the difference?

Whack-a-Mole = Reactively solving the problem (moles).

Insecticide = Solve the underlying cause of the problem (grubs).

Frankly, I loved the analogy. Think about it. The reason you have moles in your lawn is that there is a food source: grubs. Using insecticide eliminates the grubs. Eliminate the grubs, eliminate the moles. Viola. Done. But how much fun is that?

I’m out of the corporate world, but I see the “Whack-a-Mole” style come up with a lot of my clients with ADHD. 

What are some of the hallmarks of the “Whack-a-Mole” style?

  1. Insecurity: “If I can solve the problem quickly, they clearly will see how much they need me.” Whack.
  2. Lack of prioritization: “Oh, crud! I completely forgot that I needed to make a dinner reservation for our anniversary. I’ll do it right now. Hopefully, I can find something decent.” Whack.
  3. Lack of organization: “Shoot! My wife asked me to do the grocery shopping, but I lost the list. I’ll improvise and see how it goes, but I’ll get it done.” Whack.
  4. Lack of delegation: “I have WAY more work to do than I have time for, but no one can do it as well as I can. Plus, I wouldn’t even know how to start giving them instruction. I’ll stay late.” Whack.
  5. The thrill of crisis management: “I love these last-minute crises; they give me an adrenaline rush.” Whack.
  6. Wanting to be the hero: “I always wanted to be a fire-fighter. Solving problems all the time is kind of like that. I get a rush, and everyone thinks I’m awesome.” Whack.

Yes, a “Whack-a-Mole” style can be a rush, but it more often results in emotional drain and frustration for those around you. 

With ADHD, several things come into play, and you can see them via the Dr. Thomas Brown ADHD model, which focuses on Activation, Focus, Effort, Emotions, Memory, and Action.

What can you do to transition from “Whack-a-Mole” to insecticide problem-solving?

  1. Focus on self-esteem. You do many things right; there’s no need to convince others’ of your value only in crises.
  2. Set aside time to plan. Planning and calendarizing tasks will keep you out of crisis mode.
  3. Look for ways to organize your time, tasks, and space. If you don’t know how find someone who has that strength and ask for their assistance.
  4. Know and use your support structure. None of us do it all alone; you don’t need to either.
  5. Understand how adrenaline and dopamine may be adding to your desire to manage via crisis.
  6. Managing your life via crisis isn’t the only way to create hero status. You are already a hero.
Cindy Jobs

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