Managing Emotions During the ADHD Job Hunt with Dr. Doug Herr

We’re kicking off our series on ADHD at work with an exploration of the emotional side of ADHD as you embark on the job hunt. If you’re in the middle of a search yourself, you know those feelings — rejection sensitivity rears its head and suddenly you lose track of who you are, the diversity of your experiences, and what you have to offer.

Dr. Doug Herr joins us today to shepherd us through this conversation. His unique approach to coaching individuals toward a more satisfactory career horizon, plus his experience as a psychotherapist living with ADHD, makes him the perfect guest this week. We hope you’ll enjoy getting to know Dr. Doug this week and next as we embark on the emotional side of the job hunt!

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Episode Transcript

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Pete Wright: Hello everybody and welcome to Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast on RashPixel.fm. I’m Pete Wright, and right over there is Nikki Kinzer. Hello, Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer: Hello. Hello, Pete Wright.

Pete Wright: I know that you’re feeling strong. That is the truth because we’re using that language now-

Nikki Kinzer: Yes.

Pete Wright: … to make sure that we feel strong all the time even when we’re not feeling strong.

Nikki Kinzer: 100% myself.

Pete Wright: Hundo-P as the youth say, hundo-P.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah. But let’s just say I’m going to take a little step back on this show.

Pete Wright: Well, we’ll see.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll-

Pete Wright: You know what? I’m sure you say that.

Nikki Kinzer: I know. Maybe I’ll get my-

Pete Wright: You’re a passionate person on this topic, and you’ve been talking a lot about it. We’ve been working up to it, I have a feeling we’re going to get started and you’re not going to be able to control yourself.

Nikki Kinzer: That could be.

Pete Wright: You’ll just come untethered-

Nikki Kinzer: That could be, yeah.

Pete Wright: … in the conversation. So let’s get started. We’re going to talk about … this is part one of a two-part conversation that we’re having with our esteemed guest, who I will introduce momentarily. We’re talking about the job hunt. The first part of the conversation, handling the emotions of a job hunt. You have a job, you want a different one, and we’re going to talk about what goes into the way you think, the way you set your brain to do that.

Pete Wright: Before we do that, head over to TakeControlADHD.com, you can get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website or subscribe to the mailing list and we’ll send you an email each time a new episode is released. You can connect with us on Twitter or Facebook a TakeControlADHD, and if this show has ever touched you or helped you make a change in your life for the better, if you’ve ever found that you understand your relationship with ADHD in a new way, we invite you to consider supporting the show directly through Patreon.

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Nikki Kinzer: I wouldn’t go that far.

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Pete Wright: Our guest today is Dr. Doug. Doug, say hi to the people.

Doug Herr: Hi to the people.

Pete Wright: Doug Herr. I was struggling a little bit because the last time I introduced you, it was clinical psychologist, he’s doctor, and he’s in Nashville and he’s got this practice, and he’s doing all this stuff. But your own career trajectory has changed, and I thought maybe as we are starting off our workplace series, as we’re talking about finding a job or looking to replace a job, trying to get your head in the right place for … your head and your heart I should say, in the right place to start that process.

Pete Wright: Especially when you are living with ADHD, and some of these other sort of connected issues come about. I thought it might be interesting for you to give just a brief as sort of map of your own career trajectory because I don’t think you did it last time, and you and I had this conversation last week and it’s dizzying. It is dizzying-

Doug Herr: Terrifying.

Pete Wright: … how you got from there to here. Yeah. Right. So can you do that briefly?

Doug Herr: Oh my gosh. Yeah, I will try. And first of all, I should start with the caveat. I’m still actually a licensed psychologist, so I need to say first, whatever you hear here is not treatment.

Pete Wright: Oh.

Doug Herr: Not therapy.

Pete Wright: Yes. Right, right. Okay.

Doug Herr: Just an important legal statement.

Pete Wright: It is. Yes.

Doug Herr: I think everyone knows that. So I’m a therapist in Nashville still, the therapy work I do is really almost all about the coaching work that I do, to the extent that it’s not, it’s about supporting people who need that around trauma.

Doug Herr: But if somebody is ready to move forward in a powerful way, even with trauma, there are ways to do that. So I’m working as a coach now and my goal is to create a more powerful you and a path to the future you desire.

Doug Herr: So anyway, yeah, that’s a big shift for me. I started out in engineering physics and I started out in a career path that was completely wrong for me, that because I was not really attentive to everything about me, I didn’t realize how badly I had gone. I was very, very gifted in math, and I say was. It might really be past tense, I’m not sure I can do any of that anymore. I’m pretty sure I’ve got nothing.

Pete Wright: That’s unfortunate because my next question involved a hypotenuse, I will scratch that.

Doug Herr: Oh yes. Oh God. If you can remind me what that-

Pete Wright: No hypotenuses.

Doug Herr: … word means, that’d be good.

Doug Herr: So yeah, I started off in engineering physics and I sometimes cry when I say this because I was actually … I’ll just say I was building weapons of mass destruction, and because I have an Ivy League degree, everything that’s sexiest about the kind of subatomic manipulations that I was doing is going to go first to military stuff.

Doug Herr: And while I think in principle we certainly need a Department of Defense, it’s sure not my calling to be part of anything like that. I did a personality test right at the end of my schooling for undergrad and the woman said, “Well, you’d be better suited to doing safety standards for children’s toys.”

Pete Wright: Wow.

Doug Herr: So that tells you more, there’s my heart and there’s my mind, and I think a part of my ADD has been like I’m in one or the other, but pulling them all together to where I’m more me has been a challenge and a life process.

Doug Herr: I will say too, I started off, I have, I think, a significant history of depression and anxiety. And it’s especially around job hunting, probably the only thing worse than that for me has been dating, but that’s another story for another time.

Doug Herr: Some of the troubling things for me around my ADHD, which I don’t think it’s severe. I mean, there are definitely people out there struggling more than I have, but I forget in a half-second what’s going on, or I get really excited about what I’m thinking about, “What’s Pete saying,” and realize in a few seconds that I have no idea what Pete’s saying anymore because I’m paying attention to what I’m thinking about.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: So my consciousness can run all over the place, which has been a real challenge for me. And I remember when I was job hunting as an engineer, the pressure of trying to figure out what was the right way to be and the right thing to do and all of that, it was really challenging at times.

Doug Herr: I remember my uncle gave me the phone number of a CEO for a tech company and I was so anxious about it. It took me hours to work up the courage to do it. And afterwards, all I did was leave a message with his secretary, and I was so exhausted that I fell asleep for hours in the middle of the day.

Pete Wright: That’s it. It’s a high caloric activity, right?

Doug Herr: It is.

Pete Wright: This job hunt. It’s a high calorie burn.

Doug Herr: And I think a lot of that had to do with my ADHD.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: Because that made me really anxious to kind of be all over the place. Anyway, so that’s a little bit of my story. I always had people coming up to me. My favorite part of studying was study breaks. I’d plan a 15-minute study break and ended up being two hours of talking with someone. Eventually I made a career out of that, because people would just come up to me and start talking. So I realized, “I have no idea how to respond to this.” And I became a psychologist.

Doug Herr: I really became a psychologist out of a desire to do positive psychology and help people be the most they could be. I had no idea there was this thing called coaching, and more recently in the last couple of years I’ve studied ontological coaching, which is about changing, not just trying to change the results you get, not just trying to change the things you do to get different results, but really changing how you see yourself and how you see reality to get the most powerful results.

Doug Herr: So when you change what you do and the results you get, it’s all just organic because you’ve changed how you see reality and how you see yourself. And I’m very much as a therapist invested, and as a coach, invested in helping people to see themselves in more positive and more effective ways.

Pete Wright: That’s a great segue actually, it makes for a great transition. And I will say by means of introduction for this part of our conversation, we had Dr. Bill Dodson on late last year and he introduced us to this subject, rejection sensitive dysphoria, as he talks about it, the extreme emotional sensitivity and pain triggered by the perception that a person has been rejected or criticized by important people in their life. It may also be triggered by a sense of falling short, failing to meet their own standards, or others’ expectations.

Pete Wright: Now in terms of living with ADHD, having words to define that experience was … I don’t think it’s a stretch to say monumental for a lot of folks, myself included.

Doug Herr: Oh my God. It’s like my life story right there.

Pete Wright: Right? Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer: Right.

Pete Wright: Yeah. Right. Right.

Doug Herr: I mean, I came out of math and physics where everything is perfect and that’s what I thought I should be.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: And I treated religion the same way, and it just became very, very toxic because I sort of noticed at some point how perfect I’m not, and now I’m fond of saying, “I’ve never met perfect.”

Pete Wright: Yes. Yes.

Doug Herr: It’s just a fantasy we have, and I would direct anyone to Brené Brown if you struggle with all that the way I would, but you just named my pain.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah. That’s how a lot of people felt. We got a lot of conversation in our Discord and a lot of feedback from listeners too because that’s exactly what they said is like, “Yep, that’s it. You nailed it. You got it. That’s how I feel.” And the job market, when you’re looking for a new job, I mean, gosh, what a huge trigger for these emotions to come out for so many reasons.

Pete Wright: Yeah. And so in terms of setting, I just want to make sure we set this stage because we do want to do this in two parts, and the first one that we want to start with today is you have a job you don’t like, but maybe it’s secure enough, but you’d rather do something else. You don’t feel like it’s in alignment with who you are. And it’s a little bit of an idealistic, and I think I risk this and so I want to out my own bias.

Pete Wright: I sometimes say, “Oh, you should just change your job.” But that is not a reality for a lot of people. And so, figuring out how to put the … it’s not an immediate reality. And so there’s the emotional work you have to do to be able to figure that out. And then obviously there’s the practical work that you have to do, which may be different, but let’s assume that for this purpose, we’re going to start our series on ADHD and work with finding a job that’s in alignment with who you are, and how do you figure that out?

Doug Herr: What you said is really important. Even if you already have a job, so many people are living paycheck to paycheck, which means that a job is kind of a survival issue. And we’re talking about if you already have a job and you need a better job, it might be because you know you’re in peril and you could lose this job at any minute, or you’re going to lose this job, or you work with people who hate you or some crazy thing like that. And if that’s your situation, you absolutely need to be working on that change as much as possible as fast as possible.

Doug Herr: Because if you’re working with people who are against you, there’s often not a good fix for that. You might be able to turn that around if you have the right skill set or the right coaching, but some systems just aren’t worth staying in. If you’re in that system, I think it’s a dangerous place to be. Once survival’s on the line as opposed to just, “Hey, I’m making $200 thousand a year and I just want to try and make three.” That’s usually a different feeling than-

Pete Wright: “I can’t leave this job because I have health care and this is the only way I’m going to keep health care.”

Doug Herr: Yeah. “I got to pay the rent and put food on the table and I have kids.”

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: That situation, I think, exacerbates not just anxiety, but also ADHD. One way to think about ADHD, I’m sure you guys have talked this a lot more than me, is it can be an artifact of trauma, the hyperscanning of the environment for something dangerous.

Doug Herr: If you feel like your job is at risk or your income is at risk, then you’re in danger. So managing that anxiety is important. We’re going to probably talk more about that in the next hour.

Pete Wright: I really love the idea of that, the way you are framing that concept that you’re in danger, I think that can apply in a number of different ways. The first one, when you’re talking about your income is in danger, your health and safety are in danger. There’s this lizard brain that says, “I’m going to lose my shelter, I’m going to lose my health care and my medical. Those put me in physical harm potentially.” So to connect that experience with the exacerbated experience of ADHD is an important sort of lesson number one out of this.

Pete Wright: When it puts you in job mode, but if we step back a little bit and you try to kind of unlayer what the next level, Maslow’s level two, how much do you talk about what is going on with the current job experience with somebody who is just looking to do something different? To find a new path?

Doug Herr: Well, I really believe you always want to be positive. Employers now, it’s really dicey to ever say anything negative about someone who’s leaving. So I don’t know if you guys have seen this, but in academia this is absolutely true. When you write a recommendation letter for somebody, it’s glowingly positive, otherwise it’s assumed. If you damn them with faint praise, that’s as bad as it gets nowadays.

Doug Herr: So by the same token, if you’re leaving a position, you don’t want to say, “Oh, I’m leaving this job because I hate it,” or, “Because my boss is unfair to me.” “I have a disability and everyone’s mean.” All that is right off the table. You’re looking to grow, and so you want to frame this in your own mind first as positively as possible. And then you want to communicate along those same lines.

Doug Herr: The more positive you can be about everything, the better. And I’m not talking about Pollyanna. The first thing, this is more for the emotional piece for the the second hour, but let’s talk about the Stockdale Paradox. The Stockton-

Pete Wright: I haven’t even heard of this thing. What is the Stockdale Paradox?

Doug Herr: You might have, but the Stockdale Paradox, Jim Stockdale was the highest ranking military officer to be held in Vietnam. He was captured. Just like John McCain, I mean, they broke his legs, they tortured him and basically he said, “How do people come out stronger in a difficult situation?” I mean, difficult.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: What we can imagine. And he said, “You got to face the brutal facts of your reality for exactly what they are and retain the faith that you will prevail in the end.” So when I say stay positive, I don’t mean pretend. I don’t mean that.

Doug Herr: You’ve got to be able to stay positive while you’re looking at the most challenging aspects of your situation. Frame the difficulties in terms of the positive outcome you’re trying to create, you’re working to create. Does this make sense?

Pete Wright: It does. And it feels like if we step back and just say practically it doesn’t actually matter if you’re in a job that you feel like is putting you in some sort of emotional peril or if you’re in a job and it’s just not the right path.

Doug Herr: You just don’t like it or it’s not-

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I worked for a low-tech engineering company after getting out of high-tech because of the difficulties I had with everything becoming militarized. Well in the low-tech it was fine, it just wasn’t me. And so there was another chapter to my … there’s plenty of chapters to that-

Pete Wright: There’s a lot of chapters.

Doug Herr: I mean, for me. But the low-tech part was okay, but totally uninspiring and I wanted a job that inspired me. And so yeah, I think the more that you can continue to lead yourself in a direction, I think everyone needs to be a leader in this environment. There’s no gold watch waiting at the end of a long career in a company. People make a lot of moves.

Doug Herr: So seeking new employment or new adventures if you’re an entrepreneur I think is normal these days and expected. So that’s not a negative.

Pete Wright: That’s an interesting question, I just want to interject. Or an interesting observation, that I think that we get an assumption that if I’m moving from job to job, even every couple of years that that will be a negative. And I agree with you, and what I’m hearing is that that is not the case. It is assumed that people are navigating. It’s just we have a trend that we aren’t careerists so much anymore as we were maybe a decade or two ago.

Doug Herr: The modern ethic of growth is, “It’s okay to make mistakes. Make them in a direction.”

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: You’re failing forward fast I think is the old sales language.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: And people with ADHD are usually really good at sales. If you’ve never read Brian Tracy, you might want to do that.

Pete Wright: Right.

Doug Herr: So take it as normal, the career path. Honestly, the whole workplace is more ADD than it’s ever been.

Pete Wright: That could work. Works to your benefit.

Doug Herr: It can. It provides cover.

Pete Wright: Yeah. Okay. [inaudible 00:19:43].

Doug Herr: “I’m just like everyone else.”

Nikki Kinzer: Well, and I just want to add, I think that when you put a positive spin, like what you’re saying, and you’re not talking negative and poorly about all of your past employers, it’s a very different story. It’s a very different interview at that point, right?

Doug Herr: Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer: You’re talking about your experiences and your … well, the experiences that you’ve had in these different companies and what you’ve been exposed to, and if you put that in a positive light, that could be a really great thing.

Doug Herr: Oh my gosh, that is so important. And the other side of that coin is that you’re thinking and looking at yourself and talking about yourself in a positive light as well.

Doug Herr: Oh my gosh. One of the job interviews I had is as an engineer with a high-tech, I remember the president of the company looking at me and saying, “You know, a job interview shouldn’t be like a counseling session.”

Nikki Kinzer: Good point.

Pete Wright: He was giving you counseling.

Doug Herr: Because I was sitting there-

Nikki Kinzer: That’s really good.

Doug Herr: It was, “Oh, this is really bad.” I’m sure it was all my face that I just did not look happy with what I was shooting for. I had this incredibly high powered engineering degree, so I thought, “Well this is what I have to do.” And I felt trapped and nobody wanted to hire me. And that was good ultimately because I didn’t want it ultimately.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: So it’s really important that you are positive. You’re going in a direction you at least think is something you want. Honestly, if I had discovered that I could do career coaching and professional development and leadership development early on in my career, I would’ve preferred that.

Doug Herr: But I didn’t understand this path, but I took steps in the direction. I got closer with every step, and I’m still doing it today and it keeps it fun.

Pete Wright: One thing I would just like to throw in explicitly, no matter how hard it is to swallow the bad stuff, I think there is something to habituating the positive language, right? And getting yourself really good at saying, “This last job I had, I loved it. And now I’m looking for something more.” I loved it and I learned so much, and now I’m looking for something more. And I think when we go into the job hunt mode, we live in a state of sort of, I’ll say gently, maybe insecurity or anxiety about all of the what ifs at the end of every interview, at the end of every company contact, what’s going to happen if I don’t end up getting this job? And we perseverate on that.

Pete Wright: The ADHD brain is going to say, “Hey, we’re going to go ahead and paint the end state of this experience as finished.” At least I’ll say that’s what the fireworks in my brain do. Before I even have an interview, I’ve already failed at that interview because I have so much experience not being very good at job interviews or letting my anxiety get the better of me or tripping over my own words or whatever.

Pete Wright: That history is real and verified in my head and I can already paint you a picture of what it’s like to lose a job I haven’t even interviewed for yet. And that is, I think, a very challenging space to live in when you even contemplate hitting the job market again. Does this resonate at all with you?

Doug Herr: Yeah. That’s the kind of work that I try to really help people with because this is beyond ADHD. This is what ADHD has done to your mind.

Pete Wright: Yes.

Doug Herr: And everything else. I call that you’re mostly dead all day because you really, you haven’t got a chance, right? You’ve already scripted the future as a negative experience before you walk into it.

Doug Herr: Well the problem is how powerful you are, and when you see it that way, you realize there’s an opportunity there. We need you to take your power and turn it around to where you’re creating in your own mind a future to live into. It’s much more positive than that. So staying positive is this terribly important thing. And I love the way you framed that.

Doug Herr: You might not even say, “I love this job,” but you might say, “Here’s the best part about this job.” There’s got to be something in there that was a positive growth experience. If you looked at who you were before that job, what did you gain? There had to be something positive you gained along the way or your mindset is not looking at it right. Because there’s always something.

Nikki Kinzer: Because you could even say resilience. I mean, if you say, “What was the best part of the job?” And again, I would not go into detail about why you didn’t like your boss or why your boss didn’t like you, but you could certainly talk about resilience and how I felt like, “I was able to get through some of these difficult times. I was able to solve some problems.” I mean there’s things that you could definitely twist it, but I’m curious Doug, because what I’m hearing, and I don’t know if this is correct or if other people are hearing it this way, but if you have this mindset that you already know what the outcome is going to be and it’s negative, then does it make sense for somebody then before they do the job search to talk to someone like you and talk to a therapist or a coach and work out some of that mindset stuff before they go into the job search?

Doug Herr: Well, thanks for the softball lob. Because yes.

Nikki Kinzer: Right? I mean, because it feels like there’s some conversation that needs to be made here before-

Doug Herr: Yeah. So let me clarify. Yeah, absolutely. There’s a conversation that needs to end because the conversation that you’re having is based on the past. Pete, what you described is something that your brain has already generated this conversation. And what happens is the things that we learn in life that seem protective to us, our brain latches onto, they’re all from the past, but our brain puts them in the future to keep us living safely now.

Doug Herr: And living safely means don’t get a new job. I mean, that’s the subtext of what your mindset that you described there. Of course there’s more to you, but if you have that in the background, man, that’s killing your energy, right? Because people aren’t just hiring your skill set or what you look like on a piece of paper. They’re hiring you. And if you walk in and you’re already completely ambivalent about being there like I was, where the guy was just like, “It shouldn’t be like a counseling session.”

Pete Wright: Yeah. I shouldn’t be giving you therapy.

Doug Herr: Yeah. So yeah, and that is exactly the kind of thing that I like to work with people on is, how do you create breakthrough results in your own life is future-based language. If you bring closure to that conversation from the past so that it can retreat into the past, it’s still there, but you can say to it, “Thanks for sharing,” without having it own you. You own it. It’s wisdom for you then, it’s not controlling you.

Doug Herr: And then you say, “Here’s what I’m committed to. Here’s the possibility I want to create for the future. Here’s what I’m committed to. This is the future. I want to be the cause of. I’m going to be responsible and live into this. I’m declaring that as who I’m going to be as I move forward in life,” which is a powerful conversation. And that attracts responsibility to you, and it’s coming from this inspired place. It’s a whole different energy that you can bring and that … This isn’t what I thought we were going to talk about at all today.

Doug Herr: But yes. So yeah, that’s my passion right there is if we can bring closure to the past and create a desired future and then take steps to live into it, to me that’s the most powerful way to change your life.

Pete Wright: Part of the issue we’re hearing and part of the sort of batch of questions that have come into us over this last couple of months that we’ve been talking about it, work series, is, how do you get over that hump when you’re not sure what that future looks like? I guess this is the what color is my parachute conversation, right? But when you’re existing in this kind of circle of anxiety, insecurity, sort of internal malpractice of negative future talk. How do you work through the process of landing in a direction with someone in terms of practically sort of how they want to apply their skills in the world?

Doug Herr: A lot of it for me has to do with being willing to not know what’s going to happen. Because I have to invite who I’m talking with into a conversation, and I’d love to say that, “Here are the six easy steps.” The problem is I know that that doesn’t work. There are things that that works for, but changing the mindset and the stuff for the past, that’s got to be a conversation. And the reason for that has to do with, it’s probably in the person’s blind spot.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: Okay? So there’s what I know, and I know that I know it. There’s what I don’t know, and I know that I don’t know it. And then there’s everything else in the universe, which is that I don’t know what I don’t know.

Pete Wright: Yeah. Thank you Donald Rumsfeld.

Doug Herr: Yeah. That whole realm is … Gosh, that’s a creepy reference.

Pete Wright: It’s an unknown, unknown, Doug. It’s an unknown, unknown.

Doug Herr: But there’s a reality to that. The unknown unknown is this … it can be this big positive place.

Pete Wright: Well, and I worry. I worry that you buried a phrase that I want to land on harder because we’ve been talking all about fear and the fear of this uncertain future and not knowing, living safely means don’t get a new job. Because I’m terrified. What happens if I search for a new job and then you said it starts with being willing … say it again. It’s willing to embrace the unknown, something like that. It’s not being scared of the unknown, but being willing to know that it’s out there and that it’s okay.

Doug Herr: So let me rephrase that a little bit.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: It’s scary to deal with the unknown, to realize you don’t have to be controlled by that fear. When fear is external, you’re often moving away from it. When fear is internal, it can be really powerful to move into it with support. If I can move into what’s scary for me, like what’s scary for me is maybe being vulnerable and not knowing about how to make something happen that I want to happen. Like, “I want this kind of career. I have no idea how to get there.” If I retreat from the situation, then I’m stuck. If I can move into a conversation and say, “Look, I don’t know. Can you tell me more?” To whoever important players might be.

Doug Herr: Then I’m moving into a transformational space for myself, and also I’ll be learning new things. And one of my favorite sayings is, “If you’re in a boat in the middle of a lake and you have a paddle but you have no concept of how to use it or where you want to go, just start smacking the water.” Just do something. Because eventually, you’re going to figure out-

Pete Wright: The boat’ll start to move.

Doug Herr: It’s start to move. And you’ll figure out-

Pete Wright: Slowly and maybe not in the right way.

Doug Herr: Yeah. And there are ways to use paddles that are more and less effective, but you got to try and do something. And if you can have someone there who can be helpful to you, you never know who that might be. Get support in this journey. Turn accomplices into allies is one way to think about that.

Doug Herr: Human beings are incredible resources for each other. If you go to your friends and you’re talking negatively about the job hunt and they’re sympathizing, okay, that’s fair, but what is it getting you? I would suggest going to your friends and saying, “Look, I need you to hold me accountable, not to be Pollyanna and pretending everything’s fine.” Remember the Stockdale Paradox. “I need you to help me live into a future possibility that hasn’t been created yet. I need you to ask me if I’m taking steps each day, if I’m arranging my environment to support moving forward. I need you to encourage me and maybe tell me if you see me doing something that isn’t working that you think will be helpful to me moving forward in a more effective way.”

Doug Herr: You don’t always get advice that’s useful, but you just say thank you and then you take the wheat, you throw out the chaff.

Pete Wright: As we get toward wrapping up part one, I want to talk about … well I guess in a way to embrace some of what you’re already talking about, we have a comment and question from somebody in the chat room that I think is apropos of right now and so I’m going to throw it at you and see what you think.

Pete Wright: Watching this while applying for jobs. How would you apply this willingness to embrace the unknown for new career fields? How do you manage that fear of the unknown for interviews and new career fields? Or is this just really for stepping into a new job? And as an aside, what should I be looking for in a coach?

Pete Wright: So I will definitely take that separately, but this first one, it feels kind of like what you’re addressing here, right? How do you apply this willingness to embrace the unknown for an entirely new career field? And coming from engineering physics into therapy, into coaching, maybe you have a little experience with that.

Doug Herr: Yeah, totally. Well, there’s two things. One is noticing. A lot of this has to do with what we notice, right? I was always most concerned about what I know. A lot of life is about what you notice. One of the things, I knew a lot about math and physics. What I didn’t notice that was really important was my own heart didn’t care about all that so much.

Doug Herr: I mean, it was a fun hobby for me, but it wasn’t a career. Moving into a new field, what’s important to you is important. That’s the first thing. If you’re looking for a new career, it’s never good to trade happiness for money. You need enough money to survive, that’s true. And at the same time in today’s market, I think you’re going to be most effective if you’re going for something that you really want to spend your time doing. So that’s the first thing is, notice what’s important to you.

Doug Herr: Another piece is notice your skills. So there are two job tools that I used to use for this … or not job tools, career counseling tools. One is a Strong Interest Inventory and I’m sure there are other interest inventories, but it shows, what am I interested in? What’s important to me?

Doug Herr: The other one is the Myers-Briggs, which is how does my personality function? Am I an introvert or an extrovert? Am I oriented toward things that are concrete or abstract? Things like this. But what we used to do is correlate all of that with a Dictionary of Occupational Titles. If you can see how your interests relate to so many more jobs than you ever knew existed, that can be really useful.

Pete Wright: And empowering too.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.

Doug Herr: Oh yeah.

Pete Wright: It can lead to a great confidence.

Doug Herr: Yeah. Well, okay. So this is the other thing. Confidence is about you realizing your own value and that the skills that you have. I had myself pigeonholed. I mean, this is kind of dumb beyond words, which is how I was. I had really one of the most difficult degrees from one of the most powerful universities in the world and I didn’t have the confidence to try something different because I didn’t think I was smart enough to pull it off. Okay?

Doug Herr: So I didn’t think that I was smart enough, because if you put me in a TGI Fridays, I cannot be a waiter. I just don’t have the skill set to do that.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: But if you get me the right niche, it took me a long time to work into this. I had to go back to school for years to change my career. Not everyone will have to do that. I always try and dissuade people from doing that if there’s any way not to. And if I knew then what I know now, these tools like the Strong Interest Inventory, the Myers-Briggs and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, there are all kinds of options out there that you can learn about. That can be very powerful.

Doug Herr: And my lack of self-confidence was because I was on a path that was so wrong for me. It wasn’t that I was stupid in any way, but I just felt stupid and I didn’t know why. I didn’t have the language to clarify who I was, what I wanted, and how to move forward. And I just obtained that secondhand over life. That’s a lot of what therapy or coaching is about is helping you to develop language skills that clarify who you are.

Doug Herr: I assume you’re perfect, whole, and complete from the very beginning. It’s just a matter of kind of getting the caca out of the way. Like that conversation of, “Well I know this is going to suck because getting a new job is terrifying.” Like, no. Getting a new job could be the most exciting thing you’ve ever done.

Nikki Kinzer: Could be very exciting, right.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Doug Herr: Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer: You could actually feel like you’re more alive than you were before.

Doug Herr: Oh, that’s what’s happening for me all the time now. And so let me tell you what I think is good in a a therapist or a coach. Absolutely, most important thing is feeling like you can be yourself and be heard and understood. That’s the first thing.

Doug Herr: If you can’t open up and be who you are, then whatever you’re doing, it’s not therapy. At least it’s not the way that I … I don’t know, I’m not an idealist, but if you’re going to spend the time and energy to do coaching, boy, get your money’s worth. Get somebody who inspires you, that you feel like this person understands me. They care about me. They care about me. They care about who I am, they’re not trying to just run me through a program of, “Blah, blah, blah,” and it feels all mechanical. No. It has to resonate at a heart level. Does that resonate with you Nikki?

Nikki Kinzer: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh, absolutely.

Doug Herr: I’m sure you have an answer for this too.

Nikki Kinzer: Well, I think what you’re saying is, I mean, there’s got to be a trust level there, right?

Doug Herr: Yep, right.

Nikki Kinzer: You have to be able to be vulnerable to that person because there’s things that they talk to or they talk to us about that they don’t talk to anybody else about. And it needs to be without judgment, and especially with ADHD with the kind of coaching I do, I know that there’s so many people who feel bad that we’re talking about their planner. I’m like, “Don’t feel bad about talking about your planner. We need to figure this out so it works for you. Don’t apologize. You don’t need to apologize.” And I think they’re so used to doing that all the time.

Doug Herr: That’s so huge because I feel like there’s so much about all of this. Yeah, you know what? The Franklin Planner was this huge deal, right? Getting Things Done-

Nikki Kinzer: Yes.

Doug Herr: … is a book. That book, it takes a master’s degree to understand that. People with ADHD feeling bad about their planners? No, no, no.

Nikki Kinzer: No.

Doug Herr: Everyone feels stupid about their planner nowadays because it’s too complicated.

Nikki Kinzer: Right.

Doug Herr: Everything is challenging here. I don’t know how many calendars I have now, and you really need to have one.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah. Yeah.

Doug Herr: But getting my different calendars to integrate and all show up in the same place. And then what do you put on your calendar? I was taught just put appointments on your calendar and tasks are in a different place. You know what? What it turned out for me, I’ve realized is, if that’s the way I do it, then I have these big blank spaces. What I need is to fill those up with tasks so I have committed time, because otherwise I’m going to go wandering off and chasing my little brain around and doing all kinds of silly things that aren’t useful.

Nikki Kinzer: And that is the key is to figure out what works for you. And what works for you isn’t going to necessarily work with another client.

Doug Herr: Thank you. Thank you. Yes.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah. That’s, I think, the beauty of doing it with someone, whether it’s a coach, a friend, a colleague that you trust, somebody you trust.

Doug Herr: And to realize this is not uniquely, “Oh, I just need this because I have ADHD.” Nonsense. I do this with doctors, bankers, lawyers. Everyone needs support. Everyone needs a conversation. If you’re going to change your mind, it doesn’t happen in isolation. The only kind of change that happens there is usually the more it changes, the more it stays the same.

Nikki Kinzer: Well, and if you think that ADHDers are verbal processors, many of them are verbal processors. They have to have that. They have to hear themselves speak and talk, and then all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh, a-ha. I get it.”

Doug Herr: And honestly again, to me it’s maybe more so for ADHD, I don’t know. But that’s a human thing. Everybody. It’s like, what you think is a thought that makes a lot of sense or is clear in your head is nonsense compared to when you put it into words and speak it out loud.

Nikki Kinzer: Well, and something I want to add, and I’m sure Doug, you’re going to agree to this, is that when you’re with a client and you’re hearing them talk and you’re hearing the way that they’re speaking about themselves and their experiences, and you hear the limiting beliefs and you hear the words that they’re using, when you reflect that back to them, they’re surprised. They don’t even know that that’s how they spoke about themselves necessarily.

Nikki Kinzer: And that’s an eye-opening moment too, to have that awareness all of a sudden that, “Wow, I really was beating myself up over that. I wouldn’t have talked to my daughter or son or best friend or husband or wife or partner like that. Why am I doing that to myself?” And so having that reflection back too can make a big difference. So for looking for a coach, I would definitely say you want to be-

Doug Herr: You just made me want to hire you Nikki.

Nikki Kinzer: Well, or you Doug. Or you. You want them to kind of call you out on it a little bit, right? I mean, you’ve got to be able to have somebody that can see what you don’t see or hear.

Doug Herr: I’m just acknowledging, you’re going to have this feminine energy that you bring to listening that is harder for us men to pull off in general. Because as soon as I hear something and it’s part of, again, probably my ADD, but I’m ready to run forward with it. But just the grounding of what you just said. Just really putting back to somebody, what they just said can be … that can be all you need to do sometimes.

Nikki Kinzer: Right. Right.

Doug Herr: Because then the transformation happens. And it’s a little elusive or almost deceptive how simple it can be. But the question is, “Oh, why didn’t I … I should have thought of that.” It’s like, “No, that’s not how it works. And it’s okay that that’s not how it works.”

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.

Doug Herr: Yeah. Everything I planned, we did not do.

Nikki Kinzer: I know, right? That’s what makes this podcast so great.

Doug Herr: That’s all right.

Pete Wright: We are going to continue-

Nikki Kinzer: That’s fabulous.

Pete Wright: That’s okay, because we’re going to continue this conversation next week. We have a whole lot more stuff to talk about and we’re going to be talking about a little bit more of the … I’m going to say it, a little bit more of the painful side of finding a new job next week, so make sure and stick with us.

Pete Wright: Stick with us and Dr. Doug. Dr. Doug Herr, Nashville, Tennessee. Where do you want people to go? What’s your website right now?

Doug Herr: Oh God, it’s so embarrassing. It’s so behind. It really is. It’s totally out of date now, but that’s okay. The website is ChangeTimeisNow.com.

Pete Wright: Okay.

Nikki Kinzer: Oh, I like that.

Pete Wright: Well, that’s great.

Nikki Kinzer: What a great-

Pete Wright: That’s very timely.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.

Doug Herr: Yeah, it is except for that if you try to look it up and you don’t have it just right, you’ll get something about daylight savings. I’ve got to change it, but it’s all right.

Pete Wright: ChangeTimeisNow.com. Change your website right now. I love it so much.

Doug Herr: The things you learn about Google, right?

Pete Wright: Yeah, right. Thank you so much Dr. Doug for hanging out with us this week, looking forward to continuing this conversation next week. On behalf of Dr. Doug Herr and Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright. We’ll catch you next time right here on Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.