‘Sharpen your Axe’

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30th October, 2022

“If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.”  ~Abraham Lincoln.

Continuing with the importance of self care importance, let me share another parable.

Once two woodcutters had an argument, who of them could cut more wood from morning till evening.

So they decided to have a competition.

In the morning the two men took up their position.

First they worked at the same speed cutting wood.

But after an hour one of them was heard, while the other one had stopped cutting trees.

Realizing that this was his chance to overtake, the first woodcutter started to cut trees with double speed.

Ten minutes passed, and he heard that the second woodcutter had also started to work again.

They were working almost synchronously for some time and then the first woodcutter did not hear any sound & realized that his opponent has stopped again.

The first woodcutter started to work with more speed, feeling the smell of victory.

This lasted all day long.

Each hour one of the woodcutters stopped for ten minutes and the other one continued to work.

When the time finished, the first woodcutter who worked without stopping was absolutely sure that he had won the competition and the prize.

But when the piles of wood were compared, he was very surprised to know that he was mistaken and the pile of the other woodcutter was far more.

How did this happen? —

he asked his competitor —

“Each hour I heard that you have stopped the work for ten minutes and I also doubled my effort.”

“How could you cut more trees than I?

It’s impossible, you must have cheated!”

“It was very simple,” in fact, answered the second woodcutter,

“Each hour I stopped the work for ten minutes and when you were cutting the trees,

I sharpened my axe and rested for a while so as to start the work with renewed vigour & my sharpened axe and fresh body helped me achieve better results.”

Most leaders are too busy doing and trying to achieve that they never take time to learn and grow.

Most of us don’t have the time or patience to update skills, knowledge, and beliefs, or to take time to think and reflect. Many assume that learning ends at school and so to sharpen your axe is not a priority.

So, what exactly is sharpening the axe?

Dr Stephen Covey, who popularised the term, believes that it means “increasing your personal production capacity by daily self-care and self-maintenance”.

Most people fail to understand what it means and mistake it for taking a break or vacation. If you’re overworking yourself and your productivity drops, take a break. However, that isn’t sharpening the axe – that’s putting the axe down. When you put down a dull blade and rest, the blade will still be dull when you pick it up.

The woodcutter does need downtime to rest, but that doesn’t sharpen your axe. The woodcutter only becomes more productive by sharpening his blade, analysing new woodcutting techniques, exercising to become stronger, and learning from other woodcutters.

Sunday has been give to us  by God to sharpen our axe, to refresh our body and mind of course,  but also to reskill and relearn by reading, having meaningful conversations with self & your mentor, charting a new course and also to

rejuvenate and get refreshed  for the week ahead to achieve your goals & Stay blessed forever.