Monday, April 18, 2011

On the Disabling Effect of a Sense of Fulfilment


Isn't it fascinating that a sense of achievement is an incapacitating emotion. Or is it just me? Whenever I accomplish something at work (and it needn't be anything big), I am overcome by an odd desire to tell everyone what I have managed to do, and show off a bit.

I can't help wondering what caused humans to evolve such an odd thing. Surely, after achieving something big, it is most productive to continue on and achieve something even bigger? It reminds me of a scenario I read in a book a long time ago (I wish I could remember which book it was). If a taxi driver is having a very good day, then he will often reward himself by going home early. On the other hand, if he did not have many customers, he will often work late to reach a certain level of turnover. It is obvious, however, that he could obviously make a lot more money by working late on the busy days, and going off early on the quiet days, since his time is far more productive.

I once worked during the evenings in a video store (for about two months), and the exact same thing happened. On busy days, if we had reached a certain level of sales for the day, the manager would close the store half an hour early. Statistically, the store was far more likely to have more customers during that last half an hour on the busy days than on quiet days.

No surprises that this blog post was written last Friday morning, immediately after I had made a major breakthrough in a program I had been working on, and needed something to keep me occupied until lunchtime (since no one was around for me to show off to), and I was unable to concentrate enough to carry on with the rest of the program.

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