By his early thirties, his workaholism and procrastination had put a major strain on his relationships, as well as his mental health. I hadn't dated anybody in a couple of years, he tells me. I couldn't justify traveling anywhere with friends because I was too busy, or I was brand-new at a job and couldn't leave. Over in the United States the sitting president attended a hunting trip where he was asked to shoot an animal tethered to a tree. Lowering his rifle, the leader refused to do so on the grounds that it was inhumane. It could be considered an out-of-character choice as the well-loved president in question was hardly an animal rights conservationist given the number of fine beasts that otherwise fell to the crack of his rifle. Yet in this instance, thinking it unfair and unsportsmanlike that the beast in question was tethered, the act of humanity earned President Theodore Roosevelt a nickname. Yet it was one destined to become known around the world. Margarete was initially a little sceptical of her nephew's 'PB55' idea, yet she agreed to test the previously fortuitous markets at the Leipzig toy fair in 1903. An American businessman stumbled on the toy animal made from dyeable plush mohair. He placed an initial order in the thousands, thus significantly opening channels for international distribution. The shy clerk walked over and looked into the car, where a frail, elderly woman with sad eyes sat in the back seat. Every week for years I've been sending you a money order. I've never failed to place them on your son's grave. I came here today myself because the doctors have told me I have only a few weeks left. But before I die, I wanted to take one last look at my son's grave and to put the flowers there myself. You know, ma'am, I was always sorry you kept sending the money for the flowers. She quickly took stock of his frantic mannerisms, the way his eyes darted anxiously around the room, and the distractibility and overexertion that defined his life, and took a guess at what the source of the problem was. She asked me on, like, my second visit if I had ever been assessed for ADHD, he says. Before that moment, Leo had never considered it a possibility that he had ADHD.

There's a very particular stereotype of the disorder people have in their minds: ADHD sufferers are seen as unintelligent or lacking ambition. Yet for Leo and for many other people with ADHD, the exact opposite is the case. It's very common for people with ADHD to overcommit to a variety of things they're passionate about, and then run quickly and dramatically out of steam because they haven't realistically budgeted their time. I'll never forget the first time I hung out with Leo after he started taking ADHD medication and working on his overcommitment with a therapist. He then gained permission from Roosevelt to name the bears 'teddy bears' and from 1906 onwards, the toy was sold under the new name. The toy animal was the very same growling animal Roosevelt had humanely saved. Steiff bears are considered to be the original teddy bears. What's more, Steiff bears have become highly collectible, in part thanks to another smart decision dating back to 1904. Franz, another of Margarete's nephews working in the business, came up with the idea of trademarking the toys using the iconic 'Knopf-im-Ohr' ('button-in-ear') trademark to ward off the copycats and fakes attempting to break into the market. Margarete's international trade exploded her business. By the time of her death in 1909, aged 61, Steiff was trading approximately two million toys globally. Elephants had also expanded into an array of cuddly animals that could walk, crawl, climb, swim, jump or fly. Margarete, through her tenacity, passion, resilience and creativity, had built a company that still stands today, as solid and concrete as her toys were soft. Because the flowers last such a short time, and no one ever gets to see them or smell them. You know, there are thousands of people in hospitals and nursing homes that love flowers, and they can see them and smell them. But a few months later he was surprised with another visit. He didn't interrupt me with tons of observations and questions I couldn't follow the logic of. He had an easy sense of humor, and could speak candidly about how hard his college years had been. He wasn't constantly flitting around the living room, anxiously tidying things or letting out his nervous energy in little verbal tangents and ticks. He could sit through a movie without getting up or being distracted.

He had also started recreationally smoking weed from time to time, a thing his younger, driven type-A self would have found downright shameful. My intense, hardworking friend had finally found a way to chill out and stop fearing laziness. Around this time, Leo started dating his current boyfriend. He finally had the mental space to prioritize his own feelings and desires, and that made getting close to someone else much easier. In the couple of years that they've been dating, they've gone on several long vacations and adventures, visiting national parks and museums, mountaineering, and kayaking. Leo wasn't someone who could enjoy and luxuriate in downtime like this before, but now he seems to relish it. What's more, she did so with the company's motto remaining core to their ethos: Only the best is good enough for children. The reason the bear is over 100 years old is because it's an original Steiff, a quite rare early version, within the first few years of production. The reason it's only had six previous owners is because generally such items are difficult to come by, available only via special auction, private purchase or through effort and diligence in research or knowing where to go. Consider the flexible joints a lovely design component gifted to Steiff toys, a luxury Margarete didn't easily have herself, given her confinement to a wheelchair and the lifelong discomfort in her limbs. I take the flowers to the people myself, she said to the clerk with a smile. The doctors don't understand what's making me well. So if we have one miracle to make our own, one strength to choose--let it be the ability to turn curses into blessings, to draw joy from sadness and life from death. Let it be the strength of an old woman and her flowers. Death is a great teacher if it impels us to serve the living. After repeatedly overcommitting, ignoring his needs, and then dramatically burning out, Leo has slowly learned how to find enjoyment in life. When the two of us discuss politics nowadays, he remains engaged and informed, but there's a clear emotional distance between his self-image and how well his favorite politicians are doing. He's capable of disengaging in a way he never could before. I never thought a straitlaced, politics-obsessed person like him would turn into a chilled-out nature-loving weed smoker, but I'm so happy for him that he did. The seemingly bad behaviors we tend to judge as laziness are really powerful signals that something in our lives needs to change.

On the organizational level, patterns of employee laziness can tell us a workplace is being mismanaged. One workplace productivity expert I spoke to, industrial-organizational psychologist Dr Annette Towler, told me that when employees are bullied or mismanaged, they often cope with it through subtle signs of laziness, such as increased absenteeism. That's one of the early, subtle signs that a workplace is toxic, she told me. You see a lot of employees just not coming in to work, with no explanation or cause. Managers look at that and they think, Oh, everyone is being so lazy, or so unreliable--but often it's that they're trying to avoid an abusive or toxic environment. When you tip the bear gently upside down, then straighten it again gradually, the bear will make the sound of a growl, a kind of muffled 'moo'. It may be considered a symbolic gesture, under presidential pardon, of the untethered animal's freedom cry. So, pause again for a moment and mentally select or write down a second dollar figure for the bear. How does that perception of value rate in comparison to your first dollar figure? The first pitch and valuation, being based merely on 'tangible value' facts (the year, number of owners, facts in relation to essential features) frequently draws a majority of responses ranging from $5 to $500 with some consideration given to its potential antiquity. Generally speaking, I've found over 80 per cent of people consistently increase their value perception the second time around. The majority of responses will range between $1000 and $100 000 on this second bout after initial perceptions of only a few dollars. Irv came to see me thirteen months after we buried his wife--his partner in life for sixty years. Everything was done in our ancient way: The funeral with its torn black ribbons and clods of earth hitting plain pine. The shiva with its prayers, pleasantries, and Bundt cakes. A year of Kaddish, of saying the Mourner's Prayer three times a day, ending with an unveiled marker capturing his love for her in words as terse as haiku. It's been more than a year, but Irv tells me he doesn't want to move on. Tried the support group--full of women with more time and money than good sense. When a person has been stretched to their limit, they may start to seem flaky and checked-out. They might come in to work late or cancel plans with friends at the last minute.

They'll have less drive to do chores or cook meals and may take frequent naps or zone out by playing repetitive video games. In general, they'll have worse impulse control and far less energy than they used to. These aren't signs that someone is a screwup or a failure. Though these lazy behaviors have been demonized for centuries, there's actually nothing evil or damaging about them. Feelings of laziness are also a powerful internal alarm signaling to us that we need additional help, more breaks, or reduced demands. By listening to this laziness, we can better understand our needs and construct lives that are truly worth living. Which is surely a more delicious ambiguity than that IQ benchmark known as borderline! There are also those who retain their perception of value as the same between versions 1 and 2. Which is also perfect because, let's face it, at the end of the day the item in question is a cuddly toy. Someone who looks at tangible value preferring solid investments of bricks and mortar may not perceive the value of a stuffed animal in the same light. I deliberately use the quirky example of a teddy bear because the unlikeness of its impact highlights magnificently a fantastic lesson to be learned. You may get a sense from the style of my writing I've always been fascinated by history. Adding in a thirst to learn, I was always curious to investigate more. I used to share the Steiff story with Contiki travellers when in Germany. Sure, he loves the kids and the grandchildren, the Sunday dinners, and tennis four days a week. What should I say to Irv, who sat on the lumpy old couch in my office, looking lumpy and old himself, asking me why he cannot shed his darkness? My friends and my children say that I should move on, he tells me, fighting back the tears. Not the time of clocks and calendars, but the realm of time that cannot be accelerated, despite our attempts to smoke, drink, spend, or work around it. The time it takes to heal, breathe, laugh again, and move on. The pace of human existence governed by what I call God time.