Today I want to tell you a story, are you sitting comfortably, good then lets begin.
Many years ago a salesman in England went to see a customer, it was a cold wet day, one of those days when the car windows just keep steaming up. It was a long drive and by the time the man arrived at his destination, it was already beginning to get dark. Checking that he had arrived at the correct address, the man left the warmth of the car, grabbed his briefcase and went to the doorway. The door bell was very old, covered in cobwebs, but when pressed it did work. A lady inside the house shuffled along the hallway to answer the door, as she opened the door there was a flash of lightening followed by a clap of thunder. Then the rain started again, good job the man had reached his destination. “Good afternoon” the man said, “I have come to see Mr Hughes” the lady paused for a moment and then replied. “Yes, you must be Mr Grey please come in out of the rain, just go through to the sitting room” The sitting room was very dark with just a small window and a table lamp for light. After what seemed like eternity to the salesman, the lady appeared with a tray filled with a china teapot, cups and saucers. Without a word the lady prepared the cups and saucers, then finally poured the man a proper English cup of tea. It was almost as though this process of preparation of the tea was a ritual that had been carried out for hundreds of years. “Would you like milk and sugar?” asked the lady very quietly. “Yes please” said the man, “milk and two sugars, would be perfect”
They both sat down on soft brown leather armchairs, the kind that seemed to mould themselves to the contours of your body almost as though they were made to measure. They drank their tea in silence only broken from time to time by the noise of the cups being placed back on their saucers. Then the lady spoke ” I am terribly sorry to inform you that Mr Hughes my husband, died quite suddenly last month” she paused and then went on “you see he worked hard all his life as a carpenter, he loved his work. When he retired though, we had no savings and no private pension. So we really struggled as the money just dried up, we still wanted to run a car and do all the normal things, but it was a struggle. We were married for 53 years, its such a shame, anyhow I shouldn’t grumble I’m going to live with my daughter now”
Sometime later that evening as the salesman continued his drive home, he thought about the lady and Mr Hughes. He found himself wondering about life, his job and his family. The next day was again a working day and the salesman was attending a presentation at head office. This happened about three or four times during the year and was always enjoyable as he met up with sales people from other areas of the UK. This time his company had a speaker booked to give the presentation. The salesman hoped it would be interesting and entertaining as he was still feeling tired from the day before.
After being introduced by the Sales Manager, who tried to make several jokes, none of which were really funny and one of which upset some female colleagues, the speaker switched on the projector and started his PowerPoint presentation. This started in a peculiar way as the speaker outlined the story of this family of mice who lived in a world of paradise. So perfect was their lives that they didn’t have to worry about money or hunting for food, in fact it really was paradise for them. They woke up every day and all went to a room, the same room at the same time every day. As if by magic, the same cheese would appear, as it did every single day and they would feast until full. Well one day they all went to the same room at the normal time and guess what, no cheese arrived. Nobody was really concerned until the next day when the same thing happened again. In fact the cheese which had always been delivered, never arrived ever again. Some mice returned day after day, to that same room at the same time. They kept returning and one by one died of hunger, its only a story but all the sales people were a bit saddened by this. A very small group of mice though, threw caution to the wind and went off to try and find food.
These mice not only found other rooms with cheese, but rooms with different types of cheeses. As you can imagine those mice flourished and rejoiced in their survival. The moral of the presentation being that if you always do the same things every day, with the very same set of circumstances, you always get the same result. That is until circumstances change, at which point you carry on in the same old fashion or you change and do something different.
The salesman immediately thought of Mr Hughes and wished that he had been able to see the presentation, if he had seen it perhaps he would have done something different.
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