Rand continues his infuriating dealings with the High Lords; working to impose his rule as the Dragon Reborn. In the tumultuous time, he faces a common enemy: the "we've always done it this way" mentality.
Always - for the twenty years since the Aiel War. They were so bound up in what they had always done that they could not see what was so simple. Or would no see it. When the cabbages sprouted like weeds around Emond's Field, it was a near certainty that bad rain or whiteworm had struck Deven Ride or Watch Hill. When Watch Hill had too many turnips, Emond's Field would have a shortage, or Deven Ride.
Rand, The Shadow Rising, p. 117
The "always" mentality is formidable. It has taken years to settle in. It's comfortable in its known quantity. It's established. It is the definition of inertia. And it takes a tremendous amount of effort to move. One of the guys I work with said it's like pushing a giant boulder - it's stuck fast, but the second you feel it move, you shove with everything you've got to gain an inch in the positive direction. In many ways, that's spot on; sometimes it does take brute force ("we will do this, because I say so"). But you can also move the boulder without directly confronting it, clearing around the side in the grass, removing smaller, only tangentially associated obstacles. Remove enough, and the boulder will take off on its own. Either way takes hard work and a concerted effort. Much of what comprised that boulder likely started off as small problems. Small solutions may be the answer - it's easier to measure success and impact, and smaller adjustments are easier to digest than wholesale sweeping changes. But surrendering to "always" is not the choice for success.