What happens when you switch line in the supermarket

It’s interesting to observe how we do most of the things in our lives. But it’s even more interesting to notice why we do them, and how a tiny hardwired behavior can lead us to places we don’t want to be.


A couple of days ago I was at Lima’s airport and was chaotic. I was waiting to get my boarding pass at LATAM airlines and there was a huge line. After half an hour, someone decides to break the line, so now there are two different lines that merge together. Ten minutes passed and my line didn’t move, and the airport’s staff didn’t say a thing. Well, very few people didn’t change the line even when it was clear the other one was moving faster (I didn’t change either). So, why on Earth — even knowing that the other line was moving faster — didn’t we switch the line?


How many times have you thought “Damn! I should’ve switched to that line, now it’s too late”? Or “I screwed it up, I should’ve stayed in the line I was”? More than you can count I bet.
But here happens something interesting. When you stayed in the same line, you blame the guy who was in front of you, or the cashier. However, when you switch, you blame yourself for switching the line, and this one is good.

Why don’t we switch lines more often?

Well, it’s simple. If we stay, we blame others. If we switch, it’s our fault and we should’ve stayed where we were. So we don’t switch.
I can’t make enough emphasis on this (check my golden rule) but we need to run the show, and start taking the blame. Once we do that, we don’t have to keep doing things so we can just blame others (the airport staff, the supermarket, you name it.)
Once you take responsibility, suddenly all bets are off. Now you run the show.
Now, when you realize your career is not taking you where you want to go, you just switch. You can’t complain you studied a concrete major at college and wish you’d work on other things. You take responsibility and work your way up.
Now, when a business is clearly not working, you switch strategy or industry if necessary.
Now, you take responsibility and move on, looking for your best next shot.
The bad news is that blaming others is hardwired in our brains. The good news? You can get better at identifying when you’re wrong, so you get to decide that you’re responsible of your show.
The lesson here is simple: just because you’ve invested so much time in something, doesn’t mean you should stick with it. It doesn’t seem like a big deal when you’re at the supermarket, but there are other kind of decisions that instead of minutes, we talk about months (or years!)
Your inner narrative is up to you. You run the show, so focus on the best outcome regardless of past choices.