The Bundle of Sticks

An old man on the point of death summoned his sons around him to give them some parting advice. He ordered his servants to bring in a bundle of sticks, and said to his eldest son: “Break it.” The son strained and strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the bundle. The other sons also tried, but none of them was successful. “Untie the bundle,” said the father, “and each of you take a stick.” When they had done so, he called out to them: “Now, break,” and each stick was easily broken. “You see my meaning,” said their father.

This fable, from Aesop himself, defines the importance of a little help.

Asking for help doesn’t always come natural for me.  In fact, quite the opposite is usually closer to the truth.  Which is a real shame, because in my personal and professional environments, I’m surrounded by more than capable people who are more than eager to provide assistance.

The other day, I took a call from a customer, asking me how to properly size a Cabinet Cooler system.  Since it’s part of my job to size Cabinet Cooler systems, I told him what data I needed.  He gave it to me, and I told him what system he needed, nice and simple like.  He said there were several different installations where he needed one, and asked how he could size them – he didn’t want to trouble me.  I jokingly (well, half-jokingly) told him there were WAY worse things I could be doing than heat load calculations, but seriously, I was happy to do it.  It’s not just because it’s part of my job.  And it’s not just because I like to help people.  And it really wasn’t to avoid another less pleasant task.

There’s something to be said for job satisfaction; no doubt about it.  Who doesn’t like to reap the fruits of a project well done?  There’s also something to be said for applying one’s training, experience, and acumen to achieve the best possible results.  I had also told the caller that there wasn’t anything hard about the calculations we do to size a Cabinet Cooler system – it’s a relatively simple formula.  However, since it’s one that we work with every day (and more often than that, now that we’re heading into warmer weather), we’re in tune not only with the data, but the details of the operation.  We may recognize anomalies or abnormalities where a different solution may be best for the application.

Asking for help doesn’t come natural for me, but I’m starting to think more about it since that conversation with our new customer the other day.  How much more might I get done, and how much less might I screw up, if I learn to lean a little towards others with more knowledge and expertise in certain areas?  I think it’ll be OK, as long as I remember to pick up a bundle of stick to break myself every now and then.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax

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