For all those people who are working harder than ever, spending an increasing amount of hours working, whether physically at ‘work’, or at home replying to emails and phone calls in an evening, but without necessarily making the progress you should! Maybe you need to take a time-out and ‘sharpen your axe’. Let me explain…
John was a lumberjack in Canada and had been employed by a timber company for five years. A big man with a large athletic build, all he’d wanted to do all his life was to be a lumberjack.
He was a conscientious employee, always worked hard, reliable, honest and a good timekeeper, yet he had never had a pay-rise or a promotion.
Last year, the company hired Bill to do the same job in an adjoining area of woodland, however Bill got a pay-rise within the first twelve months and was included on the company’s next ‘fact-track’ lumberjack development programme.
John was naturally disappointed when he heard this news and decided to approach the management of the company.
The management told him that whilst they appreciated his hard-work and despite a promising start, his production had never increased over the last five years and that was the reason for his lack of a pay-rise and promotion opportunities. They also mentioned that Bill had cut down a third more trees than John over the previous 12 month period.
As an incentive, the company however promised to give John a pay-rise and consider him for development, if his production increased.
So John went back to work and tried harder and worked longer, but unfortunately his results did not improve.
One day John decided to talk to Bill and find out the secret of his success. The first question Bill asked him when he explained the problem was, “how often do you stop to sharpen your axe?” John burst out laughing and said, “sharpen my axe, I haven’t time to sharpen my axe I’m too busy cutting down the trees!”
After a long pause, Bill went on to explain that after every hour, he would take a short break to sharpen his axe. “This way“, Bill said, “the axe stays sharp and I don’t have to work quite so hard or so long, yet can still make my quota”.
It suddenly dawned on John that he was so busy cutting down trees that he had forgotten to take a break and sharpen his axe.
Now whilst the story is a little tongue in cheek, I’m certain that you already know the importance of taking a break from the pressure of work, after all that’s why most of us go on holiday! And just like the axe-blade, over time, we get dull too!
Ask yourself when was the last time you set aside some time to sharpen your own axe? Those mental and physical tools that you undoubtedly use every day of your life. When did you last spend some time on self-development to improve yourself and sharpen your mind? What was the last self-development book you read and when was that?
There are so many great reads on the book shelves, both in paper, audio and other electronic formats, that your only problem might be which one to read first!!
I can promise you that it’s well worth getting into the habit of setting aside time every week and every month to ‘sharpen your own axe’.
From experience of working with high performing teams and individuals from the worlds of business and sport, ‘sharpening your axe’ is the bedrock of achievement and the habit of champions and it might just turn out to be the best investment you will ever make!
As the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu said many centuries ago, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Whilst more recently Nike stated, ‘Just Do It’. Whichever statement you embrace, the message is clear!
Best wishes and meantime… onwards + upwards!