The Ham Butt Problem (taken from: http://www.ted.com/talks/erin_mckean_redefines_the_dictionary.html):
Woman’s making a ham for the big family dinner. She goes to cut the butt off the ham and throw it away, and she looks at this piece of ham and she’s like, “This is a perfectly good piece of ham. Why am I throwing this away?” She thought, “Well my mom always did this.” So she calls up Mom, and she says, “Mom, why’d you cut the butt off the ham when you’re making a ham?” Her mom says, “I don’t know, my mom always did it!” So they call Grandma, and Grandma says, “My pan was too small!”
How many times have we heard this before? We do something because that’s how it’s always been done. As much as it’s efficient as a species to learn from experience, sometimes our experience can be based on factors which no longer exist or no longer influence our decisions. How best do we approach a problem without letting the past influence us too much? Simple. Think about why you do what you do. If something seems a bit off, there’s probably a reason for that.
As Einstein famously said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Live and think consciously. You never know when you’re going to be cooking a ham.