I am giving a midterm today in one of the world history classes that I teach, and I gave myself extra time to get copies printed and stapled. When I arrived at the copier, I made a decision that turned out to bode well for my future productivity: I read the copier manual to learn how to collate and staple my five-page test.
Now, those of you who work full-time in an office setting are probably well versed in the art of copier use, either through personal expertise or because you can delegate copying tasks to a subordinate. In my case, I know little beyond the basics of one-sided, one-page copying, and I have always stapled my own multi-page projects.
Heck, I have trouble just getting the machine to collate, so I usually end up with a bunch of piles from which I assemble syllabi and tests. Remember, too, that my stubborn pride prevents me at most times from asking for help. God forbid I should admit my incompetence at copying, so I suffer in silence, slinking off to staple my non-collated pages by hand.
After spending ten minutes reading the Sharp instruction manual, I felt prepared for the leap into modernity. After feeding the originals, like electronic magic the stapled exams appeared in the exit tray, ten smoking-hot sets per minute. In less than three minutes time, the machine produced what normally would have been a 20-25 minute manual sorting and stapling process.
The lessons learned from mastering such a skill go beyond the additional free time, though. It is when we continue to stubbornly refuse to change that we deny ourselves opportunities to grow, even in such a mundane task as copying multi-page documents. Perhaps this moment will serve as a reminder of the potentially obstructive and stunting power of my ego, which can act as a barrier to self-improvement.