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Archive for April 21st, 2012

Lessons in tenacity from a screen door and a staple gun

Recently, the mesh on our screen door sprung a hole. More literally, it came unmoored from the wood frame. Either way, frayed little wires were beginning to poke out around the edges and the flies were making their way inside, seemingly by the droves. After weeks of staring at that loose mesh that was no longer doing its job, I finally made my way to the hardware store to get some replacement screening.

Then the fun began: measuring, cutting, and stapling the new mesh in place. Enter, my handy staple gun.

While I do not recall purchasing the staple gun, it is not an exaggeration to say I have owned this thing for more than 20 years. And it has served me well over those decades. But isn’t it funny how you can own something (or know someone) for a very long time, and still not know how it really functions?

I had all my tools and supplies lined up: knife (for cutting the old screen out), new tube of mesh, scissors (for cutting the new mesh to size), staple gun, step stool. I was ready. I made a practice staple to be sure the gun was functioning properly. Check. Mesh in hand, I climbed up on the stool, put the mesh in place, and held it there with my shoulder as I raised the staple gun to take aim.

Phfsht…

Instead of firing into the wood frame of the screen door, the staple dribbled out. So I tried again. And again. And again. Until I had a little puddle of staples at the foot of my step stool. What the hell? It was just working! I tried again. No go.

Finally, I thought to myself, This is easy. It was working a minute ago, and now it’s not. So what changed? Use your eyeballs and LOOK. And then I noticed a little piece of metal at the end of the staple gun. Twenty years, remember, that I’ve owned this tool. But in all that time, I’d never paid any attention to the function of that little piece of metal at the butt of the gun: it’s a safety!

Perhaps it was dumb luck or just the way the staple gun was made, but in all those years, I’d never had a problem using it before – apparently because the safety had been in the “off” position every time I’d gone to use it. Wow! Talk about a simple awareness.

Lessons for us, as authors and marketers?

  1. Even after 20 years’ experience with something, you probably still don’t know everything about it.
  2. When you get frustrated, stop and take a breath.
  3. Many problems have a simple solution. If you’re willing to open your eyes, pay attention, and discover the answer, it might be right in front of you.

Happy trouble-shooting!

Laura

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