39: Don’t Doubt the Dream

Don't Doubt the Dream | ADHD reWired

An interview with Jerry Mills, musician, songwriter, speaker

Musician, songwriter, and keynote speaker Jerry Mills walks us through his inspirations and history while playing for us a number of his inspiring songs. An active long-time member of the ADHD community, Jerry has performed at the Adult ADD Conference, CHADD conferences, as well as a wide range of locations across the globe. With his powerful words and tunes, Jerry addresses his life’s experiences, and his ADHD, in a way unique and poignant for many across the world.

About Jerry:

  • Diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, Jerry became aware of it while teaching an elementary school student who also had ADHD. In reading about the boy, Jerry says he “read about my whole life”.

  • Jerry’s hand was injured in an accident as a child. The surgeon who worked on his hand recommended he take up a hobby that involved his hands in order to recover from the injury, so he took up guitar.

  • Having played music for the past 20 years, Jerry makes a living off of writing songs, playing his music, and giving keynote presentations.

  • Even when he was working, at one point, as a substitute teacher, he would still attend classes with his guitar.

ADHD, Music, and Business:

  • Discussing ADHD, a girl once told Jerry that trying to grab a thought out of her head was like trying to grab one specific sock out of a fast-spinning clothes dryer.

  • Eric almost decided to drop out of college in pursuit of a career playing music.

  • Eric: In his book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Oliver Sacks discusses the effects of music on the brain. He mentions that there is no “music part” of the brain; the entire brain is wired for music. The therapeutic side to music can apply even to those with language disorders via song and movement disorders via dance. (Available on Audible)

  • Managing the business part of his career was a learning process for Jerry.

  • Jerry initially spent a lot of time focusing on perfecting small bits and pieces of his website, but later decided to hire a firm to manage it and add a lot of functionality.

  • Jerry: Find a way to empower the people who are good at doing particular tasks.

  • Eric: We need to work within our “green zone”. Most of my work with clients and people online is fun; handling administrative paperwork is not fun and will tend to be put off. Delaying important work sometimes leads to anxiety.

  • By delegating more peripheral tasks to other people, more time is freed up for productive work and projects.

  • After telling the same story at different performances many times over, Jerry became tired of it and wanted to try a new direction. Although it meant he wouldn’t have as much business as before, Jerry decided to spend more time – now in the thousands of hours – refining and practicing his songwriting and guitar playing; as a result, he’s never been happier.

  • Jerry came across a quote: “When the story you’re telling no longer rings true, the words will turn to ashes in your mouth.”

Songs and Poems Performed:

  • Intense (Poem)

    • Used to be a song that debuted at the Adult ADD Conference in Ann Arbor, MI, now adapted into a poem

    • Recommended as a “diagnostic tool” for adult ADHD

  • “Ordinary Me No More”

    • Written for a performance at a high school that had been overrun with social and drug problems.

    • Felt he couldn’t do something ordinary for his performance; it had to be out of the ordinary.

  • “Imagination”

    • While visiting another high school, this time for the teachers, Jerry was brought on a tour of the building and shown a painting painted by a student who had a similar life story to Jerry’s.

    • The painting was of Albert Einstein and was accompanied by one of Einstein’s quotes: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

  • “Can”

    • A song written for the funeral of a pilot and biology teacher who passed away.

    • He changed the title and some of the words after realizing it applied more universally to people than he once thought.

  • “Come Join Us”

    • Originally written for a song he wrote when he was angry, Jerry later thought to re-use the melody of what would become “Come Join Us” for a song with a positive meaning behind it.

    • He thought of all the good people he’s met over the years in service organizations and decided to write it about them. Later, he would go on to produce the song with a choir and orchestra for distribution all over the world.

Find and Contact Jerry Mills:

Other information:

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