Thursday, September 27, 2007

What Printers Taught Me about Me

While I’ve been working with computers since before the fourth grade, I’ve only been working in the realm of printer repair for about a year and a half. While I came into the job with a background for the mechanical—I served as an engineer in the U.S. Army and spent many of my formative years on a farm—I was coming into what is now my current position in which I repair printers and work with other aspects of Information Technology from what was part administrative, part support, part customer service position with Cingular (now the new AT&T) and my level of confidence in conducting my job was lower than when I had started other job roles.

Arm yourself because no one else here will save you.
—Chris Cornell, “You Know My Name

It took me several months for a printer not to become daunting, while I gathered my courage and developed my confidence. When confronted with an issue with a printer I found myself, sometimes, reacting like a child struggling in the water, thrown in for one of his or her first times. It wasn’t until I learned to stop panicking and rely on myself to solve the problem.

Because, that’s one of my core competencies: The ability to solve a problem.

Of course, the best way to do this, in my experience, is to learn as much as possible about an issue and the all bodies of knowledge surrounding it until such time that you can come to a resolution. Appearing contrarian to my perspective of “perfect information” on the surface, this has developed itself over the years in that I try to find the “perfect amount of information” surrounding an issue instead of going in with so much information as to develop prejudices about conclusions that might not be the case. In any situation, however, I develop a core set of scenarios in which I ensure that I have parts available to be able to repair things on sight.

Yeah, something the Boy Scouts taught me: Always be prepared.

There are those situations, though, that I found where I would be confronted with an unruly piece of equipment which would require repair while I was there, even if it worked only partially or temporarily, so that the primary users would have the printer or other piece of equipment at their disposal to print checks, do reports, or whatever else their hearts or jobs desired. I started learning “field expedient” fixes which would carry something until such time that I could see to a proper repair.

That was something the Army taught me.

After I got it through my head something of my own advice—That I am not much more or less than the sum of my experiences—I realized that the best way to solve a problem was to have me be part of it. Why rely on fate, outside circumstances, chaos, or random circumstances dictate what the variables in a given situation would be? Why should I allow for something to turn out in a fashion that was counterintuitive—and counterproductive—to the way which I wanted a situation to turn out?

I learned that in any given situation—be that an office machine or a land war in Eston—if I made myself the determining piece in the situation, then I would have a much better chance of resolving it into my favor.

Rely upon yourself, because you’re the element in your life which makes the most difference.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monkey Mondays...on Tuesday

The magic monkey tree.

Bananas, peanuts and peaches have been left as offerings to please the monkey god, sacred in Chinese mythology and Hinduism. A wheel-like device which kneeling gamblers turn by hand in front of the tree to spit out numbered balls has helped fuel the mania.