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Negativity Kills

I know a man, a brilliant man. He is a data-scientist and has been pouring over data for years with a keen eye for practical applications over theory. This man has hit a rough spot. He quit his job a few years back to take an opportunity, a low-pay fun opportunity that was his opportunity to give back. After years of work the opportunity waned and he was thrust back into the job market. Great skills but unprepared for looking. Especially for looking without currently being employed.

We were at a social event mingling around and sharing ideas and as I made my way to him he was sharing a toxic story about a community leader that had brushed him off. His story was interesting and negative. However, instead of a quick share he hammered the point home continuously laying into this community leader to anyone that would listen. As I exited the group conversation to say high to others I noticed he couldn’t stay in a group.

Our friends would come by, say hello, listen to the tale, try to change the subject and leave when the subject kept going. As a coach I moved in to listen more and watch his behavior. Later I inquired about some stories of his interviews and the pieces began falling in place. He had truly become toxic.

In one interview he called out the interviewed for asking a stupid question. In another he monologued about how no real data scientist needs to SQL and railed against it being a pre-requisite for the job. The stories went on. I have known him for a while, he is not a toxic guy. What gives?

Not having a job and having to rely on his wife’s income to make ends meet has been rough. For men, especially, this can lead to devaluing our sense of worth and the only avenue for recovery seems to be becoming arrogant and toxic. Sort of a defense mechanism. A: “It isn’t me, it can’t be me. It must be everyone else”.

We transform from our best-selves into our worst selves. We share the tales hoping to find an ally. Unfortunately, we can’t see that this toxicity drives people way. People that would otherwise help! If you are reading this post and your are out of work and you are thinking maybe I am doing this then here is what you can do. Go get a job. Any job. Stay as close to your field and passion as possible but just go out and take a B.S. job that you are overqualified for. Be happy in the job be successful in the job. And use the job to build your self-confidence back. Don’t use the job as a just while you are looking job use the job as a: “I am a valuable, beautiful human that is creative and important to society and being a part of society helps me to heal and validate myself”. Build yourself up with this job. Strengthen your social connections. Helps someone else get a job while you are no longer on market. Return phone calls from people, stay invested in the community.

After a few months you will find yourself back to your whole self. You may not be in the job you want or be making the money you want but you will have proven you can, in fact, get that job. Now that you are confident and feeling good and re-established your community you can start interviewing for those dream jobs again.


Ennis Lynch

Ennis Lynch

Ennis Lynch is a Professional Coach Based in South Florida. His primary area of coaching focuses on coaching Software Engineering Leadership. On occasion he does Agile Transformation work as well but prefers coaching at the Team and Individual level vs. the organizational level.


If you have ever wondered: is professional coaching right for you ? Are you a Software Engineering Manager, Director of Engineering, Director of Software Engineering, VP of Engineering, or CTO reach out for a free initial coaching session. Initial coaching sessions are the real deal, no hard-sells, no "here is what you would get if you paid". Individuals that receive a free coaching session will get a normal private professional coaching session of 90 minutes (30 minute onboarding + 60 minute coaching) and it will be up to you to follow-up if you want to continue with help on your journey.


Ennis Lynch

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