Recently I was hired to write an article about a startup called ICO Pass who are launching a new cryptocurrency token to help ICOs process KYC checks.

Token, ICOKYC – WTF?

All gobbledygook to me.

I figured the startup was either an arcade game, some empty corporate acronym, or a fried chicken joint.

It turns out ICO = Initial Coin Offering. Which is kind of like an IPO or Initial Public Offering – when a company allows the public to buy shares and invest in it – except for organizations or startups launching a new cryptocurrency.

I knew nothing about ICOs or cryptocurrencies, but it sounded like a good excuse to finally learn. I was up for the challenge. I took the job.

Usually I follow E.L. Doctorow’s advice on writing: “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” But as I started, this project was different. After trying to squeeze writing in between other projects, a couple weeks came and went and…

I had nothing.

I struggled to make sense of it all. I tried to back out of the job. I wanted to quit.

Why We Resist The New

In her article Ten Reasons People Resist Change for Harvard Business Review, Rosabeth Moss Kanter explains why we resist change and reject the new. For example:

  • Loss of control: “Change interferes with autonomy and can make people feel that they’ve lost control over their territory.”
  • It’s more work: “Because of the inevitable unanticipated glitches in the middle of change, per Kanter’s Law, “everything can look like a failure in the middle.”
  • Change can hurt: “Change is resisted because it can hurt. When new technologies displace old ones, jobs can be lost; prices can be cut; investments can be wiped out.”

But the reason that hit home for me was:

  • Concerns about competence: “Change is resisted when it makes people feel stupid.”

I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent guy, capable of digesting difficult topics and distilling them into ways that others like myself can understand and care about them. I also like to think of myself as a professional writer who’s dependable and can deliver on his deadlines.

The hard reality: this stuff made me feel like an incompetent dumbass.

Fortunately I kept going anyway.

If you’re interested in learning more about cryptocurrencies, check out the article (still in draft):

Cryptocurrencies: A gentle primer for those still hiding (like me): Why we resist change, why now is the time to learn, and where to start.


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