There is a common saying, often found on t-shirts and bumper stickers, it says, “S**t happens.” Yes, that does happen but so does something else that people regard in much the same way. Change. “Change happens.”
People are creatures of habit. Children thrive when they have some sort of structure or routine. Many of us enjoy structure at work or in our relationships. We like what we like and we know what we know. Goodness forbid, if we have to do something else.
We’d rather work harder at the same old thing, than climb the learning curve that will ultimately make us more effective, more productive or even happier. This is nothing new. Thomas Jefferson said, in the Declaration of Independence, “Experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” In other words, we’d rather suffer than take a chance and abolish that which makes us suffer. Why? Because we’d rather have the devil we know than the devil we don’t.
This doesn’t change the fact that change happens. Kids grow up, seasons change, friends grow apart, job responsibilities shift, marriages evolve, new models of cell phones and cars come out while other models are retired. Change happens, that much is sure. Unfortunately, the other ‘sure thing’ is that most people will fight that change tooth and nail.
We like what we like. We know what we know. Alternately, we don’t like what we don’t like and we don’t know what we don’t know … and not knowing, as well as the possibility of not liking, is scary.
Do me a favor. If you are reading this on your computer or a cell phone with a full keyboard, take a look at that keyboard. I can practically guarantee that you are looking at a Qwerty keyboard. The first six letters of the upper row on the left of your keyboard are Q-W-E-R-T-Y. It’s the computer (and typewriter) keyboard we’ve loved and known for decades.
Did you know, though, that there was another keyboard, invented in 1936, called the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard. Dvorak based his keyboard on what letters were used most and was supposed to make typing faster because the most commonly used keys were easier to reach and typing was evenly dispersed between right and left hands.
Dvorak was faster and easier. So what was the problem? Though cumbersome, people liked Qwerty. They knew Qwerty. So, even though there was a faster and quicker alternative, they rejected it because, as with most change, it represented something different, something that would take time to learn and master. It represented the devil they didn’t know.
The resistance to change is part of what makes it so difficult. If we would stop fighting it and give it a chance, we might find out that what we fear and what we don’t know isn’t half as bad as we thought it would be.