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Sharpen the Saw

leadership management training Jan 18, 2021

Sharpen the Saw

Once upon a time, there was a young woodcutter, and he was sure he could cut more wood than any other woodcutter.  He came into a logging camp and asked, "who is the best woodcutter here?" Everyone agreed that a particular older gentleman was the best. 

The young woodcutter said, "I can cut more wood than he can; I want his job." The foreman said, "Sure if, you can cut more than he does, you deserve the job."

So the older gentleman agreed to the challenge, and they decided they would each go into the forest and cut down trees, and when the day ended, everyone could see who cut the most.

They both went out into the woods, and you could hear the saws cutting.  But pretty soon, the older woodcutter stopped for a while, and when the younger one noticed that, he thought, "I have this won. I don't need a break." That pattern repeated several times during the day, and by the end of the day, the younger woodcutter was sure he won.

Yet, when they measured the wood, the older woodcutter had cut significantly more wood.  The younger woodcutter was desolate.  He went up to the older woodcutter and asked how he could take those breaks and still win.  The older woodcutter shook his head and looked at the young man and said, "Sonny, I wasn't taking breaks; I was sharpening my saw."

Are You Sharpening Your Saw?

Now you are thinking, "what does that have to do with my company and my life?" To succeed in life and management, you have to sharpen your saw.

Sharpening your saw can come in several forms.  First is taking time for rest and relaxation.  If you keep driving yourself without needed breaks, you may be successful in the short term, but you will burn out.

A second form of sharpening your saw is working on improving your skills in different areas.  Most highly successful people are readers, and they buy out the time to read books that broaden their perspective.  Below are links to several good books I have used to sharpen my saw.

A third method to sharpen your saw is to make sure you exercise regularly.  Spend a little time every day in activities that get the blood flowing.

A fourth tool is meditating and planning.  When you spend a little time every day in silent contemplation, your mind will become sharper, and you may be surprised by the answers you find.

When Sharpening Your Saw – Start By Analyzing Yourself

When you are trying to get better, you need to start by looking in the mirror and asking yourself, "where can I get better?" And don't focus on just one area; athletes working out don't exercise only  one muscle; they have a routine to train their whole bodies.

The same should be true of our skills; we want to improve in every area.  It is easy to get fixated on one challenge and fail to address other issues.

Get feedback from others, including managers, peers, and employees.  They may tell you things you don't want to hear.  Listen with an open mind; they may see areas for improvement that you missed.

Athletes that want to get the best results can often benefit from working with a trainer.  The same applies to developing business skills.  Find a coach or mentor to guide you to get the best results.

One Tool To Help

One process that I found helps me sharpen my saw was describe by Hal Elrod. He is a gentleman that has overcome significant adversity to triumph far beyond what event the experts thought possible.  He uses the label "The Miracle Morning."  I have found it helps me. Following is a link to his book:

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8 AM)


I also recommend Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't.  By Simon Simek.

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