August 8, 2023

How to Leave a Toxic Work Environment

This episode is a rare treat as I chat with a current FOCUSED client of mine, Jason Rowlett, @JDouglasRowlett who shares his experience of identifying and leaving a toxic work environment.

I decided to do an episode with Jason on this topic as I watched him navigate this situation in real-time and recognized this as something that likely happens to many adults with ADHD.

While ADHD can certainly manifest in our work performance and social behavior, we shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells at all times, worried about inconveniencing or frustrating our colleagues. Sometimes our work environments are just bad, and it has nothing to do with us and nothing to do with ADHD. But we often get accustomed to accepting blame and believing we’re the problem if we had a history of being treated this way as children or young people with ADHD. This can cloud our judgment and cause us to stay in toxic situations longer than we should.

Jason and I discuss in depth what toxic workplaces look and feel like. Are you receiving misassigned blame and spending significant time analyzing situations to understand where things went wrong and why you were treated negatively? Are you receiving constructive criticism or personal put-downs?

Have a listen, share with a friend, and if you’d like to see what Jason’s up to now, you can find his podcast and other content HERE.



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Kristen Carder 0:05
Welcome to the I have ADHD podcast, where it’s all about education, encouragement and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carter and I have ADHD. Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor and challenges of adulting relationships working and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain. Unlock your potential and move from point A to point B. Hey, what’s up? This is Christian Carter and you’re listening to the I have ADHD podcast.

I am medicated. I am caffeinated. I am regulated and I am ready to roll. Hello, hello. Welcome to the show. I’m so glad you’re here with us today. I haven’t done this in a long time. But today I’m interviewing a client of mine, Jason relat. Jason has ADHD and he’s been in focus for about two years. He’s here today to share his story of leaving a toxic work environment. And we’re gonna have a conversation about why we ADHD or stay in unhealthy workplaces for longer than we want to why we often blame ourselves for what’s happening in our workplace, even though it’s not our fault. Why we tend to gaslight ourselves and tips for recognizing and dealing with unhealthy work environments. So Jason, welcome to the podcast.

Jason 1:31
Hi, Kristin, thank you so much for having me on.

Kristen Carder 1:33
I’m so glad to have you here. I’ve been so excited to talk to you. Because I’ve been watching your evolution and focused and all of your Slack posts. And after your last explanation of everything that was happening in your life, I was like we have got to get Jason on the podcast. I can’t wait for people to hear your story. So first, tell us just a little bit about yourself. When were you diagnosed with ADHD? And how did you end up in focused?

Jason 2:02
I was diagnosed at age 31. And I was working at a job and my boss came to me and he had other employees who had ADHD. He had noticed some some of the, shall we say traits? Characteristics? Sure, sure. And he just brought it right to my attention. At the time, I was shocked to hear that I had not really considered ADHD before that. I had always I had been diagnosed with a learning disability. I had I had worked with therapists before. But when that was brought to my attention, it was very pointed. And I thought, I don’t know if it’s that. But I he said you should get it checked out. And I saw a psychiatrist. And I got diagnosed from him at a specialty clinic here. And he diagnosed me right away. But it took a long time for me to just accept it. That I even had it. I had to ask him. Are you sure? I really Yeah. I just couldn’t believe everything I had struggled with for 31 years. So much was related to this condition. There was so many things that were had happened. I had lost jobs had had, you know, relationships and things fall apart in the past. And I you know, I always thought, oh, it’s I’m the common denominator. That’s me. You know, that kind of thing.

Kristen Carder 3:57
I must be the problem. I must be the problem. It must be my fault.

Jason 4:03
Yeah. And I was just really blown away by the fact that I that I had it well. He prescribed medication and I began looking into different things. I looked at different different sources online. I was kind of I didn’t even know about coaching. I didn’t know that coaching existed. But about five years later, my mom actually had heard of your podcast. Oh, wow. She sent it to me and she said, You really need to listen to this podcast. And so I started listening and I binged all of your episodes. I was just blown away, hearing someone talk about what I had been struggling with, from the perspective of somebody not only who had it but who could articulate in a new and different way that I had never heard before. How How to address what was really going on that I was not always the problem, that there are other things happening here. Yeah, this is a medical, actual, you know, physical condition, yeah. To address it from that angle, and to speak the way you did about so many different things, executive functions and everything, it really was so eye opening to me. So I joined as soon as I could, because I knew I had to really get serious about coaching. Until then, I was just sort of me looking on blogs and things online and YouTube, but it was not really actual coaching. So then, when I got in and saw your workbooks and your content, more of your content, and things that were so useful to me, really, really did change my own perspective on not only myself, but my whole world in many ways. And I really, truly mean it was that much.

Kristen Carder 6:14
That’s amazing. That’s so fun to hear. I think it’s so interesting that even when a psychiatrist diagnosed you with ADHD, you really had to ask him over and over to kind of validate the diagnosis for you. And I think that that is going to be a theme throughout today’s episode. Because when your perspective shifts from, there’s something wrong with me, I know that I’m broken. I know I’m the problem. I’m the one that messes everything up to oh, wait, you’re saying I’m not the problem. You’re saying that I’m not broken that that there is something neurologically happening that I can take medication that I can get therapy and coaching and like make improvements when you start to put the blame where the blame belongs? So not on Jason’s character, but on ADHD. Right? So that’s the first, like, Miss assigned blame. Would you say, right? It’s like, yes. Oh, I’m a flawed human. I must. There must be something wrong with me. Oh, wait, the blame was in the wrong spot. The blame actually belongs on ADHD and this neurodevelopmental disorder that needs to be treated. When we miss assign blame, we don’t see things clearly. We’re not seeing right, we’re not seeing reality for what it really is. So I would just like to hear in work environments. Did you have a pattern of accepting blame? Was that is that something that was just kind of like, a normal thing that you would do?

Jason 7:59
Yes, it was. And I had I had lost jobs or had frustrated people, even if they didn’t, sometimes they did have? Cause because I had messed something up or, or there wasn’t cause and they were just very frustrated with me. It was all that kind of blame on me. Everything was focused on me. Yes. And the way my mind works, I, I began thinking with a bit of humor, a bit of dark humor, I would think, wow, I just have so much power in this position of being a box Boy, that Apple retail, something like that there where it was like, wow, I just can influence every right. In other words, this does not make sense. Yes, it does not make sense to say everything is Jason’s fault. And I would hear that from different people at different times of the day, they weren’t conspiring, but it was just so odd to me that I would have such an influence on other people. Now, what that was looking back was ADHD was affecting how I would approach my job. So that that was what was affecting them, but I didn’t know it. Yeah. And they didn’t know it. And so, you know, what else are they going to say? Yeah, well, you’re a problem. And we’re trying to run a business here. Yeah. So it was always in the guise of Jason’s messing this up. We constantly have him forgetting to do X, Y, and Z. That’s the problem. And so yeah, I had lost jobs. Yeah. forgetfulness, missing details, all the classic kind of management not realizing so much time on something that was really not important. Yeah. And so it was very discouraging, extremely.

Kristen Carder 9:59
I’m cute. Arias, if you ever had the opportunity to have a boss that was like helpful to you, in your struggles, like, Hey, I noticed that you’re forgetting things a lot. How can I help you to remember? Or hey, I noticed that you’re missing these details. How can I help you to remember? Did you ever have that kind of support?

Jason 10:21
The only one I did was the one who brought up ADHD to my attention. Yeah. Yeah. No one ever mentioned that before if they even saw it. Yeah. And it was what was so frustrating to me was, and in life that I couldn’t explain was I would work so hard. running on a treadmill and going nowhere. Yeah, I am more. Can you not see how hard I’m working here? I’ve done this and this and this? And they would say, well, that’s not what’s I couldn’t see the bigger picture. Or I could already miss details, like I said, Sure. And that work would, you know, it would be the value that it was, but it wasn’t the most important thing, but I couldn’t see that. So I walk away from each job that I would lose, blaming myself. I was blaming myself, yes. That was what was so discouraging to me. And I couldn’t figure out why.

Kristen Carder 11:18
Yep. Confirming the narrative that you’re the problem. Right, confirming the narrative that like there’s something wrong with you, you’re flawed. And you don’t have to get into this if you don’t want to. But I’m curious. Was this very similar in your relationships as well, this pattern?

Jason 11:38
Yes, it was. And many of my relationships fell apart my more intimate ones, but I have had a lot of friends that I’ve had all my life. Yeah. So I would think, again, it was that that quandary of how can I be liked by by these, you know, so many people here, and then on this level, it’s not working? Yeah. person. You know, and I could have explained that, but yeah, yeah. It was just always that dichotomy of, I’m influencing so much in a negative way over here. Right. And yet, I have no huge influence. In platies.

Jason 12:20
Yes. Doesn’t make sense.

Kristen Carder 12:23
Yeah. Yeah.

Kristen Carder 12:26
And I think that that is true. It doesn’t make sense. And I think that we need to grab on to that. And, and any person listening, who resonates with it, needs to grab it doesn’t my therapist says, she points at me. And she goes, grab on to that. Grab on to that. When I say something, that is truth, she’ll points me in, she’ll say, grab on to that. And Jason, I really think that we all need to grab on to that. When it doesn’t make sense. It probably doesn’t make sense.

Jason 12:59
That’s exactly right. And I got to a point where I can become observant of that. And ADHD, I would say that is the first skill if it Yeah, just develop observance of what is this or that person doing? But also, to observe your own thoughts? Yeah, take a step back. I think of it like being in a movie theater, and, you know, bucket of popcorn, drink there, and you’re watching a movie, you’re not involved. Love it in the movie, but you’re watching these frames moving in front of you. And it’s like that with your own thoughts where you can just sit back and observe and think, okay, that’s that was going through my mind that and then this and you can take a step back and sort of dispassionately analyze what’s going on. And if you can do that, I think there’s some fear in there, at least I have struggled with some fear in analyzing my own self, there’s always that anxiety of Oh, dear, what am I going to find? How bad is it going to be? But you’re also your own safest person to do that in front of, and if you can do that alone, and just even maybe write it out, you know, thought download, doing that. Those were some of the things that I began doing that I found very helpful for me, and you teach much of much of that as well. So all that to say, being observant, I think is the first crucial step that anybody with ADHD or has been recently diagnosed doesn’t know what’s going on. Yeah, that’s what I would recommend. Yeah.

Kristen Carder 14:50
That was also so helpful to me because I was also very confused in some of my most intimate my closest relationships. And so I would often So thought download and I would I would kind of write out conversations and try to see like, what’s, what’s happening here? What’s going on? Am I missing something? Am I the problem? This is Yeah, I think that’s so such good advice. So I’m curious. Let’s talk about your most recent work experience, because that’s that’s really what we’re here to talk about today. And I’m, I’m wondering when you began to observe unhealthy patterns in that particular job? What was that like for you?

Jason 15:35
I began, this was about six months ago, when I first began noticing that there was something off. And it had been so on and so going so well, for the last nine months prior to that. I was writing for cryptocurrency news outlet. It was a new startup. And I proposed that maybe they start a podcast and that I could do that I’ve got a background in broadcasting and journalism. And they were all gung ho about that check. And then I said, oh, there’s an event here in Austin, where I live. And I could go to that and interview some of these industry names, you know, that are kind of well known. And we could get them on the podcast, and then we could tag them on social media and kind of make her name for us. Oh, yes, yes, do that do that. I’ve really pressed the flesh and I said, there’s this event in Amsterdam, Bitcoin Amsterdam is going on? Would you want to sponsor me to go? And I’ll do the same thing? I’ll interview these people and all of that, oh, yes, yes, do that. And then my, and another one or two. And then it was all very supportive, and they would sponsor me and all of that. And then in January, it all changed. And I, I suddenly began getting extreme criticism out of nowhere, or my my writing or what I had just simply communicated a need. And it was very, very rebuffed. And I don’t know why. And I would say this, too, for those of us with ADHD, the temptation is to figure out why, yeah, always to untangle what the other person is thinking. I would say, try to resist Yeah. Go with going back to just observe, let it make sense. Let it be confusing. Because then you take yourself off the hook of, I’ve got to figure this out. I’ve got to do. That’s what I did all my life was, this doesn’t make any sense. I got to figure out what what am I doing? And I think I would say take yourself off the hook about trying to let it just observe it and let it be up there on the movie screen, making absolutely no sense and sit back and enjoy your popcorn.

Kristen Carder 18:06
Oh, that’s so good. That’s so good. Because I think we’re programmed like even biologically, to try to figure it out. So we can solve it so we can be safe. If I can figure it out, like as a child, right? Like, if I can figure out why my mom is upset, and I can take care of her and make her happy, then she will take care of me and I will be safe. I mean, that’s I’m just speaking hypothetically, like that might be a way that it works itself out in childhood. And then that kind of like moves forward into our adulthood. If I can figure out why my boss is unhappy than I can solve it, then they will be happy with me again. And then I’ll be safe. I’ll have job security, I’ll be in good standing. But I love that advice of just let it not make sense. If it don’t make sense. It don’t make sense.

Jason 18:56
Yeah. And it’s not my responsibility to figure out even why it makes sense. The other person probably there’s so many question marks there. My energy is better spent figuring out what’s going on inside me. Taking it back taking. That’s where you take control back. That’s one area where you take control back and it’s that that I can say, you know, a lot of the world doesn’t make any sense. I think the whole world can agree that none of the Yeah, a lot of the world makes no sense. I think we can all agree. Yeah. And yet we can live and we can depending on where people live, which I totally different here in in different areas. Right, generally speaking, yeah. We are able to just sit back and hopefully take some time alone. And just observe Yeah, and let things play out as they do. Yeah, I can sense or not. Yeah.

Kristen Carder 20:05
So as you watched it play out. So let’s say starting in January, and you watched it play out for about six months, did the criticism intensify? What was that like for you? Tell us what that was like.

Jason 20:23
It, it intensified in it, and it would come out of absolutely nowhere. Although I began noticing that it would happen every time I went to one of these events that I was covering as a correspondent. So I don’t know if that was part of it. Again, it doesn’t matter. But I would still do my regular work, submit articles and things that I would and I would get this really heavy, heavy criticism, almost to the point of irrelevancy. Wow, it was you didn’t mention X, Y, and Z? Well, x, y, and z is not relevant to my article. What do you say to that? It makes no sense. It makes no sense to. And this would be inconsistent. It would happen again, maybe a month later, but in between, there were no problems. So it was this very odd, arbiter arbitrary random, come out of nowhere criticism, that would it would be heavily communicated to me in a very heavy way, and there was no consistency. Yeah. And that I began to notice as a pattern, again, trying to observe, trying to let it not make sense, to at least note a pattern going on. And I began, seriously, I had long been wanting to start my own media platform. And I began thinking more and more about, okay, how am I going to exit it was for me that I was struggling with the fear of losing a regular paycheck, to start out on my own. And then it came down to the difference between the fear of losing a paycheck, or the cost of me living in fear.

Kristen Carder 22:18
It’s like you’re choosing fear either way, exactly. fear in your job, from the criticism that you’re gonna get, or fear of starting something new and not having a steady paycheck at first. Okay, I want to go back first. And I want to say that I think it’s really interesting that the criticism that you got was not constructive and helpful to your performance. Because I don’t want to give the impression that we’re saying that anytime we are corrected or criticize that our job, that that is something that we should disregard and look at as abusive, or anything like that. That’s not at all what we’re saying. What we’re saying is, when we are criticized at our jobs, and all of us are, it should be in a way that helps us to perform better, it should be specific, it should be direct, and it should be consistent and helpful to our performance moving forward. So it doesn’t mean that any criticism that we get should be brushed off. What it does mean is that there’s a difference between toxic criticism and constructive criticism. Toxic criticism is inconsistent. It’s irrelevant. It’s really just kind of mean, and it’s out of left field. And it’s just like, What the heck is happening, and it doesn’t help you to get better at your job. Right. But constructive criticism is like, hey, these things need to be addressed. Here’s what you’re doing wrong, or, you know, incorrectly, here’s how I want you to correct them. Here’s the deadline for correcting them. Here’s what I want to see move forward, like that is very, is going to be helpful to someone moving forward, rather than putting the fear of God in you. And just being like, I don’t even know what you want for me.

Jason 24:12
Exactly. It was always vague. What I got was, again, this is coming off of a year and a half of traveling to events by myself hauling my own recording equipment everywhere. Yeah, setting up interviews. Yeah, contacting people I don’t know and don’t know me and don’t have any reason to really talk to me in another country, in another city, you know, and writing and writing as well as I could, and researching and using tools, learning new tools. But the criticism wasn’t, hey, this specific article and this specific paragraph in that article, if you could change X, Y and Z in your next article, that would Have it, improve it, share our SEO for our audience, whatever it was, and you’re a 38 year old man. And I know that you can do this, right? We trust you because you’ve done all this work in the past. And we can all see it and it’s available. So we trust you. Yeah, I would. I would. That’s I kind of assumed. I had hoped that they would trust me after Yeah, I had done but instead the criticism was very vague. It was your work is low quality. You’re low quality, according to what? Right? Accusations of negativity and things like this. And I don’t want to go too far into it. I don’t want to share badmouth them. But this, this is what happened. And the point is, these were vague accusations. Even when I asked what my own KPIs were, what my key performance indicators were that I was missing, it was thrown back at me that I am to make my own KPIs. And that was the moment that I quit my job. So good, in my mind, because it got so confusing. Yeah, that was so beyond the pale. Yeah, that’s the point at which I walked out of the movie theater. And

Kristen Carder 26:24
oh, it’s so

Jason 26:26
callback, the analogy. And again, the whole point of this situation and what I went through and what happened to me, my own experience, but I learned from this experience, as it happened, there were some negative things. But there were some very positive things as well. I built up a great network, and I built up new skills. I learned many new tools. And when I quit my job, I was then able to start my own company. And I did. And it was so different this time. So rather than I do not mean at all to come across, like I’m complaining, I’m really not, it was turning a what became a negative situation, we weren’t aligned. It wasn’t a good fit, whatever it was, I don’t care if it’s in the past, it doesn’t matter. I’ve moved on and taken what I could that was good out of it, and done a good thing for myself. So that’s really where learning about ADHD, learning what was going on, using the tools that you focused gave me the support, community managers, things like this, the feedback, the coaching, I was able to do this and get through it successfully, rather than have yet another relationship fall apart and still walk away thinking, I don’t know what’s happening, right, I must be the problem. I must be the problem, and then go be unemployed and find another job. And it was always so discouraging, because you may unemployed. Many, many jobs, you know, I would get no feedback, no way of here’s how to improve, I would get the employee assessment. Sure thing, which is the most useless for an employee. But the point is that I would get no feedback. I would be just as confused as when I walked in. I’m thinking I’m the problem. I but I can’t figure out what’s going on. I’m trying to then now get a new job and have some level of confidence that I can do that. This time it was analyzed what’s really going on. Just observe and take it seriously when you do not feel safe. And get

Kristen Carder 28:45
Wow, that’s big.

Jason 28:47
That’s that sounds easy. Again, I was dealing with fear and anxiety. Right? I should have quit six months ago, when it took me six months of coaching and working through it. But when it came down to it, it was the right time to go and start my own venture. Yeah. Yeah. That was what happened.

Kristen Carder 29:07
And now a word from our sponsor. Hey, Kristen here. I’m the host of this podcast, an ADHD expert and a certified life coach who’s helped hundreds of adults with ADHD understand their unique brains and make real changes in their lives. If you’re not sure what a life coaches let me tell you. A life coach is someone who helps you achieve your goals like a personal trainer for your life. A life coach is a guide who holds your hand along the way as you take baby step after baby step to accomplish the things that you want to accomplish. A good life coach is a trained expert who knows how to look at situations or situations with non judgmental neutrality and offer you solutions that you’ve probably never even considered before. If you’re being treated for your ADHD and Maybe even you’ve done some work in therapy. And you want to add to your scaffolding of support, you’ve got to join my group coaching, program focused. Focused is where functional adults with ADHD surround each other with encouragement and support. And I lead the way with innovative and creative solutions to help you fully accept yourself, understand your ADHD, and create the life that you’ve always wanted to create, even with ADHD. Go to I have adhd.com/focused to join. And I hope to see you in our community today. Okay, I want to I want to stop here for a second. And I want to just be your coach just for a second. Yes. And I just want to say that there is a very big distinction between complaining and relaying the facts of what happened. I just want to encourage you, and everyone listening, that relaying the facts of what happened, is not complaining. It’s not being negative, telling, like observing the movie that is playing out. And being like, this part of the movie was hard and sad and impacted me. And here’s what happened in the movie. That is not complaining. That’s relaying the facts of what happened. So I think that those of us who have been released susceptible to covert abuse and I want to, I really want to put like a little pin in here and say like, go research covert abuse, because it is so insidious, it’s hard to uncover, it is crazy making it you don’t know which end is up and you’re just like, What is going on here? I don’t even know what’s happening. It’s so covert, that we autumn it’s like designed to make us think that we’re in the wrong and relaying the facts of what happened. Not complaining. Big difference.

Jason 32:11
I’m glad to hear that. Yeah, I struggle with that a lot of this has been covered. Yes. I mean, throughout my life, job situations and things like that. You can edit that part out?

Kristen Carder 32:24
No, I’m not gonna do it. I’m not gonna do it. The other thing that I wanted to just chat about for a second is the thought that you should have quit six months ago, that thought like, I should have gotten out sooner, I should have seen the signs. And I remember in Slack, you talking about just this, like, maybe feeling of shame. I don’t know what it was you can you can let me know, what was that feeling kind of as everything came to light? And you were like, oh, I should have left a long time ago. What was that experience like in your body? Before you kind of reconciled it? Was it shame or self judgment? Or, or what

Jason 33:03
it was it was shame and self judgment. And it made me as many situations have feel easily nauseous? I mean, physically sick. The feeling of it? I mean, yeah, what had happened initially was I noticed my articles were not being posted. But nothing was being communicated to me. Okay, either there’s just, you know, they’re missing it or, or they don’t want to write but nothing was being communicated to me. So again, I’m left in the dark. And I had come back and I kind of regretted this a little bit, I maybe could have handled it better. But I posted on their internal message that I said, if these aren’t going to be posted, I’m going to take the drafts down. If you don’t want them, I’m going to take them down. And I’m not going to take up space here but well, then I got a call. And I was told by some higher ups that they would have let me go if I hadn’t been with him for as long as I had.

Kristen Carder 34:09
Why what? Yeah,

Jason 34:12
I don’t know. Again. Yeah. Fusion. Yeah. No explanation. Really heavy words coming at me. Yeah, no context. Yeah, I look back. I wish I kind of handled that a little better. But at the time, I was working very hard and and it was intense. And if they’re not going to post what I’m working very hard on then what you know, I need I need some communication here, guys what I needed. Yeah, instead, I got You’re the problem. Yeah. You’re the problem, not for these articles, and we can discuss substantive things about your shot, how you reacted in one message, right. Again, that’s another conversation but the substantive issue wasn’t even addressed. Yeah. Why, you know, again, and that’s when I began thinking that was the early iteration of, I gotta figure this out what is, this doesn’t make any sense I’m so obsessed with. So you get obsessed with trying to figure all of this out. And that was the early iteration, then sort of the heavier criticism out note where sporadic would come along. And that was the last six months. And it just was very odd. I was I felt like I was through the looking glass. And it was very, very

Kristen Carder 35:36
so you mentioned the moment where it became clear, was when you were told, when you asked, Hey, I want to talk about my KPIs. And you were told Jason, it’s your job to come up with your own KPIs. It seemed like that moment snapped you into clarity. And, yeah, I think that when we’re in this, like, kind of really confusing, which way is up, I don’t even know what’s going on. environment. There’s often just once in a while, a divine moment of clarity. And it sounds like you really latched on to that. And I just, I want to affirm that that’s so amazing for you to be like, and we’re done here. Like in your mind, dude, like we are officially done. What was that moment of clarity like for you?

Jason 36:32
It was actually a huge feeling of relief. Yes. Because I recognized in that moment that I’ve done the work that I have, it stands for itself, good or bad. Everything that I’ve communicated and tried to do stands for itself good or bad. Yeah. The history is done. It’s in the bag. Yep. And when I’m trying to work with someone to move forward, yeah. I’m given no clarity. When I ask for something so clear as what are the KPIs that I am missing? Yeah. And I can’t even get that I’m supposed to make up my own KPIs. The logic of that think, Okay, I’m making up my own KPIs. I haven’t heard this. None of this has been communicated to me. Evidently, I was supposed to be making up my own KPIs this whole time?

Kristen Carder 37:28
Well, according to my KPIs, I’m doing great. So I deserve a raise.

Jason 37:34
That is actually, in so many words when I told

Kristen Carder 37:37
good, that’s amazing. That’s amazing.

Jason 37:41
The thing about being perturbed that my articles weren’t being posted. Sure. That led into Oh, you’re complaining and blaming, you give off negative energy, these were working, what I was told, your work is low quality. If your work wasn’t so low quality, we wouldn’t have such a small audience. These are things that I was told. made absolutely no sense to me. How again, I go back to wow, the amount of power I

Kristen Carder 38:13
write, I’m controlling the entire audience of this company. Yeah, yeah.

Jason 38:18
I control the entire audience of this whole. Wow, that’s amazing. I didn’t know that. Yeah. Drastic, drastic, of course not. Right. But why is it being presented as it’s always, it’s not just my fault. It’s all Wow. Now think in the context of somebody who has for six months communicated nothing, and kept me on the payroll. Right. Wow, causing all these problems and all of this. These were just the facts and the thoughts that are coming into my mind like this. This is the logic is really breaking down here. Yeah. Yeah. And when it was you make your own KPIs. Nobody tells an employee that. Yeah, makes the least sense. That made absolutely no sense. Even the

Kristen Carder 39:09
KPIs which is the company’s responsibility, even that’s your fault. Yes, everything,

Jason 39:17
everything that your company rests on my performance, which stands for itself, as I’ll say, pretty good. I think I do good quality work. Yeah. But yeah, so poor and so sharp company rests on me. I mean, it was that ah, there was absolutely no alignment here. What

Kristen Carder 39:40
Yes. Okay, so I want to pause here, and, and just share an insight that I’m having, and I wonder if you relate or maybe the listeners will relate. When I think of a toxic family system, if we can, if we can think of a family instead of a work environment just for a minute And there’s a scapegoat in a toxic family system, which is the one person in the family who gets blamed for absolutely everything. It’s their fault. And anytime they speak up, they’re wrong. They’re the problem. And usually the scapegoat is disrupting the toxic patterns. They’re saying, Hey, can I have a little more communication here? Hey, this was confusing what you said, Can I have some clarity? Hey, I don’t really like you. I have a boundary here. I don’t want you to cross it. The Scapegoat is usually the one that’s questioning the toxicity. And then because of that, they receive all of the blame for the entire family. And then it’s like, you’re ruining our family, and you’re making it awful, and you’re making us look bad and blah, blah, blah. That reminds me of what’s happened to you in this situation. I wonder if I don’t know if that resonates with you? Or if you see that, but I think that sometimes our toxic work environments can function as like a toxic or narcissistic family system.

Jason 41:09
Yeah, I think so. Especially when you are seeing, let’s say, a toxic person in a in a family. And the scapegoat is observing this toxic person having the exact same interaction with another family member. Yes. In a completely normal, yes. Adult way.

Kristen Carder 41:29

Jason 41:30
Hang on, I asked for that same need. And yes, all kinds of criticism. Yeah. Wow. Makes no sense. And, again, just take note that it makes no sense. And something else is going on is what that observed that it makes no sense. And that is what is telegraphing to you that something else is going on? And when something else is going on, that is not in your control or part of your responsibility. Yeah, that is something on the other person or another piece of the puzzle. Yeah. But when you’re trying to actively be responsible, to be active, to help somebody else. And it becomes this absolute ball of confusion. You know, trust yourself. And I know that’s such a, that’s the two hardest words, ADHD? Totally, but take note of your initial feeling, which is this makes no sense. Sure. And I know that I’m doing an honest job in this relationship in this in this. And it’s not working out. That means there is another piece of the puzzle that I’m not aware of, or need to be aware of. Sure. But there’s more than just it’s all my fault, right? That cannot be true. It cannot be

Kristen Carder 43:01
true that in a work situation in a family situation and a friendship that it’s all one person’s fault. It is.

Jason 43:10

Kristen Carder 43:12
It just is not. It’s not a thing. Okay. Here’s the question that I want to ask you. How did you develop self trust to be able to leave the toxic work environment and start your own new company? What was the development journey like for you of self trust?

Jason 43:34
I have to say that it began with, first of all, my faith in God. As a Christian myself, I really leaned into that. I also developed a thing that I call delusional optimism. Where it is it feels delusional, to be optimistic about something that you’re fear, aka moving into starting a business, going into the unknown. That’s fearful why how it’s hard to be optimistic about that feels like I’m delusional. But it’s optimistic. There are good things. Because good things have happened in the past, like I said, with, you know, as this job became a negative situation, I was building a network. Yeah, people on my own, who knew me? who trusted me and who I got to interview who I am now working with and having on my new podcast, with my business that was going on. So at the same time that I’m hearing what a terrible, right employee. I am. I’m also hearing from people who don’t know me, who know me even less, saying, oh, yeah, I’d love to come back on your podcast. So again, this dichotomy of something else is going on here. And one of these things is not like the other

Kristen Carder 44:59
one Oh, that’s important. We need we need to grab that. Right? Like when there is that dichotomy when one of the things is not like the other, really lean into that. Yes. And let us those questions fester, right.

Jason 45:17
Yeah, let them fester. Let them come up. Observe those, observe what’s happening as far as your feelings, whatever has been communicated, what you think should be communicated. But you notice it’s not. Yeah. Things like this that are the variables in a given situation that are so difficult to deal with, with when you have ADHD. Yeah, if you’re not being coached and working through those things. Yeah. But when you are and as again, as I have, and I have a long way to go, but this was a turning point in my life. For me personally, this was a really big time when I said, I’m stepping into that fear. I’m going to be optimistic. I’m going to step away and I for one, for once, I’m going to do what’s best for me.

Kristen Carder 46:07
Oh, it’s so good. So what has doing what’s best for me look like for you, Jason.

Jason 46:17
It has put me back in alignment with where I should be. It has put me back in alignment with myself. I have had things come to me. I’ve been blessed in new ways that I would never have thought I the very first interviewee that I had, when I was working for this company. A year ago, she was my first interviewee on the podcast. She lost her job about a month ago, at a cryptocurrency publication. Last week, I hired her first writer, oh my God, all these things happen, you know, kind of like in in time, I’ve hired a VA, as I told you, and I’ve been able to put things in place and lean into my my talents, and offload my weaknesses to somebody else who’s my weaknesses are their talents, their strengths, right, and really put myself back into alignment. And the other thing I’ll say is, as I have struggled with managing money for a lot of my life, this time, a huge piece of it was I was not putting money as the first thing. I was putting my talents in my skills as the first priority and not worrying about the money. Now, that doesn’t mean that my books are all what they should be. Right. But I am at peace with that. Wow. And because I’ve seen other things come true that I’ve seen other things come into alignment, when they should. Therefore I also believe and have faith that these other things will come. Yes, at the right time. Yes.

Kristen Carder 48:02
Can you talk more about alignment? What does that feel like? What is that when you say? It’s I’m in alignment? Now? What does that mean? What does that feel like? Can you describe that a little bit?

Jason 48:16
The first thing I think about is it does not dismiss challenges whatsoever. But it does totally change how you approach your challenges. And I think sometimes, you know, this with anybody with ADHD or not, we can kind of fantasize, oh, it’s going to be this when I own my own business, it’s going to be totally, I’ll be well, of course, that’s not true. But how you handle those challenges. One thing that I’ve began telling myself is, when a challenge comes up, when I don’t know what to do when it’s late at night. I can’t figure this out. And I just tell myself and I tried to be at peace with the fact that this is what it looks like. This is what you wanted. And this is what it looks like. And that’s okay, that’s okay, that’s not a negative thing. It’s not putting myself down. It’s just this is what it looks like. And that’s not all that it looks like. It looks like very great, you know, things that you can enjoy and good things that will come from this, but it puts me at peace to say this is what it looks like. And I can handle this one step at a time. How I got there, I think is just a lot of hard mental work. Really forcing myself to look at things differently. But yeah, coaching. I’ve been able to regulate my emotions around that and to handle things much more dispassionately and say, Okay, I can handle this. I’ve handled challenges in the past. I can figure out SEO always A particular struggle was sure. Talk about vague and confusing. Oh my gosh. He and SEO are letters that do not go together.

Kristen Carder 50:12
No, they’re not. Good.

Jason 50:16
Oh, man. But yeah, these are you meet these challenges? I have no idea what to do. Yeah. Well, again, observe that be aware of it, and then say, What can I do to help? Yeah, what what tools? Can I find? Who can I speak to? Yeah, I do believe things will just come to you, when you get aligned with yourself, with your talents and with your skills. Yeah, not money, not access, not fame, or whatever the external things are. In yourself, you say, I’m good at writing, I’m good at podcasting. I’m good at numbers, I’m good at whatever your your talent is, I’m good with people. That is where I think anybody, especially with ADHD, should lean into just, and just the one thing, you’re going to have many talents, check. Notice the first one, notice things where people do compliment you on things. Such a good public speaker, you should, you know, and maybe think about how you could apply that it doesn’t mean you have to take that and be a public speaker, but you can take that many different ways, and begin to just explore those new ways. That led me to, I think really become aligned with myself. I also saw a pattern I used to make movies as a kid, there was a lot of I’m very arty. I like vintage art. I collect stamps, I’ve got all the all the classic ADHD. That’s great, you know, characteristics. But yes, that’s, I would say leaning into what talents or skills that you have.

Kristen Carder 51:57
Do you think that that can happen within the context of the workplace? So for you, you decided to leave corporate or startups and whatever, stop being an employee and start working for yourself? Do you think that somebody listening who’s like, well, I don’t want to be an entrepreneur? Do you think they can find alignment within a workplace?

Jason 52:22
Yes, I have this thought that in, in a way, everybody’s an entrepreneur, kind of everybody’s a salesperson. Because you’re you’re taking responsibility for a job. Yeah. Some of us even get told what our KPIs are. I would say, looking at what your job is, try to find the strongest skill that you have in that job. Maybe Yeah, so maybe there’s like that aspect of it. That’s not the only thing you do. But maybe that’s one aspect of your job that you can really lean into that. And then maybe it can turn into something where you can maybe ask your your boss or a manager? Yeah, I could do something like this. I’m noticing on I have a talent with this or that maybe out there. Yeah,

Kristen Carder 53:15
yeah. I love the idea of really beginning to understand your strengths and leaning into your strengths. And if your current work environment is not a place that wants to utilize what you feel like are your strengths. It’s okay to go find another job. Yes, it really is. And especially if you find yourself in a toxic, or you feel you’re confused. And it’s a work environment where you’re just you’re not getting specific feedback. You’re not getting constructive feedback. Nobody’s supporting you, nobody’s helping you to work toward being better. I wanted to read some of my response to you in Slack. It was back when you were kind of questioning like, who’s the problem here? Am I the problem? Is my boss the problem? I’m a little confused. And I just made a very quick list of what a healthy enough boss looks like. And I thought that would be maybe helpful here. In the context of this conversation, if if people are questioning like, Am I in a toxic work environment? I’m not sure I wanted to kind of read and then I’m curious if you have anything to add. So here’s what I wrote. Regarding your boss, I have thoughts. That was the start. Okay. Here’s what I said. I said a healthy enough boss and hear it healthy enough. Not necessarily healthy, not perfect, but healthy enough. A healthy enough boss will be able to see the good you contribute and the bad that is not working. A healthy enough boss will acknowledge the truth of how you’ve helped and how you’ve perhaps held things back lack, a healthy enough boss will support you and walk beside you not leave you out on a ledge by yourself to falter, like to come up with your own KPIs. A healthy enough boss will let you know what’s not working long before it’s time to let you go. I mean, that is huge y’all. And they’ll give you time to adjust and correct your behavior. A healthy enough boss will not compare employees to each other.

Jason 55:30
That was going on as well. I think that you responded to me that I think that was the day after that call. I was told to the KPIs. And that was extremely encouraging to me that I could hear that from that angle where this had all just happened. Everything’s my fault. And then what you wrote to me, which is, if it were, what you’re being told it is, then it would be completely different than what it turned out to

Kristen Carder 56:04
be. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. And I again, we have to circle back to it’s not that we get away with poor work performance, or that we just are like, we shouldn’t be told what to do. But a healthy enough boss is going to see, like, Oh, I see, you’re contributing over here. And I see you’re like, this needs improvement over here. Here are some specific ways to work on that, here are the things that I want you to do. Here’s the timeframe in which I want you to do it. Here’s like the structure around it. So I think for people in a work environment where they’re feeling confused, or like they’re the problem, asking for clarity, is a great way to find out where the problem is. Because when you ask for clarity, Jason, you were like, gaslit. And you were told that, like, there’s no clarity to be had. And you are just the entire problem. So if you ask for clarity, and you don’t receive clarity, that is a gigantic red flag.

Jason 57:07
Yes. I couldn’t have said it better. That is exactly what I faced where anybody with ADHD, please notice that when that happens, because when you ask for clarity as a professional as an adult as a even as a child, for sure. You and you’re met with a smokescreen? Yes. That screams unprofessionalism,

Kristen Carder 57:34

Jason 57:38
It could be whatever is going on, right? Is not being communicated to you. That’s unfair. Yeah. But that is the signal that you either need to leave, you need to make a change, you need to do something on a different level on a different level of, oh, I’ll just change me all the time. Yes, something else needs to happen. That is the moment at which you need to open your mind up to other possibilities of, you know, I can quit this job. Yeah. I’m not going to be treated that way. Yeah. Things like that. Those are important. They’re even more important than your job.

Kristen Carder 58:21
Yes. And asking, you can do any job, right? Yes. Asking for clarity is not asking too much. Exactly. Having a need for clarity does not make you needy.

Jason 58:37
Right. Absolutely. These

Kristen Carder 58:39
are just basic workplace environment, things like you should be very clear on your job, you should be very clear on your responsibility, you should be very clear on what you’re being, what your performance is being measured on. You should be very clear about what does success look like? What does failure look like? Those should be very clear. And if they’re not, go ask for clarity. And if you’re met with pushback, that’s a red flag.

Jason 59:09
Exactly. And to me, it was a deal breaker I have.

Kristen Carder 59:16
Yes. So good.

Jason 59:18
I had put up with that for the last six months. Yeah. Again, driven by you know, fear and stick with it and all of that. There comes a point of critical mass where what’s best for me outweighs all of this. Yes, a consistent paycheck.

Kristen Carder 59:38
Jason, I could talk to you for ever. I want to be respectful of your time. Can you tell us what you’re doing now and where people can find you if they’re interested in learning more?

Jason 59:48
Yes, well, I have launched my own media platform it is called for token dot media. fo r e token dot media and it is a Digital Economy newswire and I published market reports quarterly on everything from AI to Internet of Things, cryptocurrencies and blockchain. And I’m very happy doing it. I have a sort of pension for the global economy, things that just interests me. I have so many interesting things that interested me with that. And with ADHD, of course, but I have also started my own podcast, where I simply share my own insights to what I have learned from my experiences, both recently and in the past, just from living with ADHD, my lived experiences, which is the only thing that I have to bring, I’m not a coach, not a therapist, yet. I can really, I think, speak to living with ADHD, both knowingly and unknowingly. I share my insights on my podcast. It’s called to see and be seen.

Kristen Carder 1:01:03
I love the name of that podcast. I love it so much. Love it. Everyone go listen to Jason’s podcast, we’re gonna link everything for you in the show notes, you can find them. I appreciate you. I love being your coach. I’m so glad that you joined us in focus. And I’m so grateful to you for your willingness to share your story, especially since it’s so fresh and raw. But I really think that our listeners, my hope and prayer is that they’ve been encouraged and that just hearing from someone who’s been through it will give them the courage to take the steps that they want to take as well.

Jason 1:01:41
Absolutely. muster the courage, observe your situation, and take the steps you need to take to put yourself in a safe situation.

Kristen Carder 1:01:53
So good. So bad. Thanks, Jason.

Jason 1:01:57
Thank you so much, Kristen. I really appreciate it. Love being here.

Kristen Carder 1:02:01
a few years ago, I went looking for help. I wanted to find someone to teach me how to feel better about myself and to help me improve my organization productivity time management, emotional regulation. You know, all the things that we adults with ADHD struggle with. It couldn’t find anything. So I researched and I studied and I hired coaches and I figured it out. Then I created focused for you. Focus is my monthly coaching membership where I teach educated professional adults how to accept their ADHD brain and hijack their ability to get stuff done. Hundreds of people from all over the world are already benefiting from this program and I’m confident that you will to go to I have adhd.com/focus for all details

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