Suppose you and your friends play a board game every Friday night. It is a great way to pass the time and have some fun and laughs. But inside of the fun and laughs there is also the competitive nature of you and your friends. You want to win. It is a game that involves negotiations and sales. You have to decide how to spend your money to get the greatest return before going broke. The goal is to cause the other players to go broke.

The game has a distinct set of rules but most groups of players adopt some alternative rules or slight alterations of actual rules. Sometimes the rules are altered because of a misreading of the actual game rules. Sometimes the rules are changed to add a new element to the game.Competition is fierce but everyone is fair in the application of the rules. In the grand scheme of things, you’re happy with how everything is going.

One Friday evening, however, there is a situation where you know the rule is being misread. It has become a de facto and unintended rule alteration. You have been OK with it in the past because it was to your benefit. Today, however, it is going against you. But rather than rolling with it, you decide to protest the way the rule was being applied. You demand that the rule get reviewed and the correct ruling is utilized.

One of the players pulls out the rule and sure enough you’re right. You get the ruling fixed and it gave you some benefit in this situation.

But your decision to reevaluate the rule will have long-term ripple effects. From this night forward, your benefit of the de facto alteration will forever go away. You received a one-time benefit and forfeited all future benefits. Was that worth it?

It sort of reminds me of this story.

Once upon a time there was a small bird who thought flying south for the winter was dumb. Why in the heck should birds fly south each winter? So, this bird decides he’ll hangout in his northern home when all the other birds head out.

After several weeks of believing the other birds were wasting their time, the temperature started to get colder and colder. Pretty soon the bird decided that he better start flying because it was too cold for him to make it through the winter.

The bird took off and headed south. Unfortunately, after a short period of time ice was building up on the bird’s wings and before he knew it he was tumbling rapidly down to Earth.

The bird landed in a field and was getting colder by the hour. Unable to move and freezing cold the bird was stuck in his thoughts realizing the errors of his way.

A large cow starts to meander towards the bird. The bird couldn’t move out of the way. The cow kept lumbering towards the bird until he was under the cow. Before the bird knew what was happening the cow relieved herself. Hot, fresh manure completely covered the bird.

The manure warmed the bird and the ice melted. This made the bird so happy that he stuck his head out of the pile of manure and started to sing. The bird’s singing caught the attention of a big brown barn cat. The cat snuck up to the bird, swiped the bird out of the manure, and quickly devoured it.There are several things to learn from this story. Not everyone who dumps manure on you is your enemy. Not everyone who gets you out of manure is your friend. If you’re happy and warm in a pile of manure then keep your mouth shut.

A one-time victory is usually not worth the long-term loss of something from which you normally benefit.

Anderson is a computer programmer who enjoys serving the community.

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