Friday, December 30, 2005

But I Thought The Paint Was Wet!

by Dan Miller

There is a story about Russia in the days of the Czars. In the park of St. Petersburg Winter Palace there was a beautiful lawn, on that lawn a bench, and next to that bench, two guards. Every three hours the guards were changed. Yet no one could explain why these guards were guarding the bench. One day an ambitious young lieutenant was put in charge of the Palace Guard. He started wondering and asking questions. Finally, he found a little old man, the Palace historian.

“Yes,” the old man said, “I remember.” During the reign of Peter the Great, 200 years ago, the bench got a fresh coat of paint. The Czar was afraid that the ladies in waiting might get paint on their dresses. So he ordered one guard to watch the bench while the paint dried. The order was never rescinded. Then in 1908, all the guards of the Palace were doubled for fear of a revolution. So the bench has had two guards ever since.”*

Every once in a while it’s wise to ask, “Why am I doing this?” The modern definition of “insanity” is to continue doing what you have been doing and yet expecting different results. Are you ignoring years of experience and knowledge only to continue doing what you have always done? If you want different results, you will have to do something different. If the paint dried years ago, move on!

* Paul Lee Tan, Th.D., Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations

There is an old adage that says in essence, “If the horse is dead, dismount.”

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