Yesterday we looked at an ancient story. Here’s a more modern discussion from humorist P. G. Wodehouse’s first “Blandings” novel, Something Fresh [Something New] :
“…I think I have it now. My life has been such a series of jerks. I dash along–then something happens which stops that bit of my life with a jerk; and then I have to start over again–a new bit. I think I’m getting tired of jerks. I want something stodgy and continuous.
“I’m like one of the old bus horses that could go on forever if people got off without making them stop. It’s the having to get the bus moving again that wears one out. This little section of my life since we came here is over, and it is finished for good. I’ve got to start the bus going again on a new road and with a new set of passengers. I wonder whether the old horses used to be sorry when they dropped one lot of passengers and took on a lot of strangers?”
Of course, that’s exactly what the transition does to you. You can no longer find joy (or flow) in your work. You have to stop what you have been successful at so that you can embrace doing something new.
Some of these transitions are more jarring than others and transitions can be different when experienced at different ages. For example, at level 3 we are learning how to perfect a work process and get that process to hum perfectly. When we transition to level 4, we see the reality of external pressures, things that are outside of our process that can affect it. a manager who has perfected his Level 3 process. (Jack Fallow of the COE has a great multimedia display of this.)
If you have been working successfully at level 3 for several years and you are in your high-earning years, you will find the transition jarring because you have to abandon a way of being that has been very successful right during your mid-life crisis.
If you are a university student going through the same transition, it’s hairy for quite different reasons. You begin to see the problems inherent in the system of being you have been taught to follow. You are unlikely to have been prepared for the doubt that comes in, nor are there likely resources available. But you are also not leaving something that you have invested years of work life and reputation into. It’s very difficult but for very different reasons.
Wodehouse continues to surprise me with his general insights into business and working. It’s not something one would expect in a man who writes about English wastrel aristocrats.