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“There's definitely, definitely, definitely no logic / To human behaviour”
My job at the legal publishing company was the least interesting thing in my life during my early twenties. I was playing music in two bands, writing about music for a local alternative newspaper and national magazine, and working a few miscellaneous side gigs. The legal publishing job was the thing I did between the interesting things. I spent my 40 hours there every week. I went home every night and didn’t take my work home with me. I was able to get my work done while spending most of the day listening to music and writing about music. It was a quintessentially dead end job. There was no sniff of upward mobility or growth. But it was secure and I didn’t complain.
After a half-dozen years there, two of my primary colleagues left. One was terminated, and the other moved on to a new company. It was jarring, but not the end of my tenure. I’d recently gotten married and bought a house. The job snuck deeper into the background of my life.
About six months after my colleagues left, I got a phone call from the colleague who moved on to a new company. There was an opening for a writer at his new employer and he wanted me to apply. I remember the phone call with him vividly. We spent about an hour on some random evening catching up on his new company and talking about what had transpired after he departed. He asked me to apply for the job and I remember being very unsure. I knew that my current job was going nowhere, but it was so comfortable that I just wasn’t sure.
I was willing to forego the chance of something extraordinary, for the predictable boredom of stability.
At the time, I was in my mid-twenties. It’s a time in life where you’re supposed to be free to take chances and try things out. I was paralyzed by the choice.
I remember leaving the phone call without clarity on whether I was going to apply or not.
After a few days of contemplation and conversation with my wife, I did apply. I went through the lengthy interview process and did end up landing the gig.
It changed my life. That position opened the door for a deep vein of growth that I’m not sure I would’ve found had I stayed with the legal publishing company.
The prospect of change can cause people to behave in ways that are seemingly out of character.
I can think of numerous times during my professional career where I’ve witnessed people lash out at change. Sometimes it’s been directed at me. Other times, not. In most cases, their behavior doesn’t jibe with the rest of their character. It was a “one off” — or even an accumulation of things. But the constant is that they were being asked to change. Change had pushed them to the point where they felt a need to push back.
This out of character behavior is denial on full display. Whether right or wrong, it is a rational response to change.
In the story above, I was paralyzed by the thought of even applying for a new job. To say nothing of having to actually interview for the new position. Yes, my behavior was rational, but it wasn’t in my character. I like to think that my character involves using logic to think through decisions. In the case of whether or not to apply for a new job, I was leaning on my habits; which, at the time, were very far from logic. The logical thoughts that I eventually had are what led me to go down the path of application. But it took some time for the logical thought to break through my habitual need for stability.
Björk - “Human Behaviour”
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