The Abin Sur Principle

The end of one great story can spark the beginning of another.

In the DC Comic Green Lantern, Hal Jordan acquires the source of his powers, the power ring, upon the death of Abin Sur. I find this to be one of the more fascinating stories in comic books as it conveys a lesson in life.

Too often in life, and even more so in the IT industry, we are forced to see the end of something: A respected colleague leaving, moving to another position, or sometimes being fired unjustly. Any one of these could seem like a bad thing and I think we as human automatically assume the worse. It’s almost instinctual to assume the worst and work against whomever fills that spot (Whether consciously or not). After all, the loss is great and there’s no way said person could be replaced. Problem is: It’s hard to predict what will happen when the new person arrives.

Sure we have all had that shock of the new person coming in and shaking things up. Abrupt change can cause extreme friction, an unknown, and the unknown is something we as IT people hate. Our job entails building things. It’s difficult to build things without a plan and a set vision. It upsets us to be in a situation of flux. We want stability. For someone to leave is to remove our livelihood. Then the panic comes.

It won’t work. This person doesn’t know what’s going on. This company will never let this happen. These are all things we’ve said in this situation. Maybe it’s because we believe we know the company better than anyone (sometimes that’s true) or maybe it’s because the new idea are contrary to what we think is the way of doing things. Problem is by doing this we’ve proven ourselves to be fools. Why? The one thing about uncertainty is… well it’s uncertain. You can’t know if the change will be good or bad. By taking a stance either way, you’ve falling into the world of assumption… arrogant assumption. No one can predict what will happen, not even you.

Cure? Just keep doing and see where it goes. It’s a hell of a lot less stressful than worrying about it the whole way and you’re still getting paid the same. Try to see the vision of the new person. Try to figure out what he/she is thinking in the long run. You might like what you see once you give it a chance.

Just a final note:

Evolution is full of this principle. The end of the Dinosaurs allowed small mammals to finally come out from the holes in the ground and take their place in history. End of one amazing story and the beginning of another.

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