Sharpen Your Axe

A young man approached the foreman of a logging crew and asked for a job.  “That depends,” replied the foreman. “Let’s see you cut down this tree.”

The young man stepped forward, and skillfully felled a great tree. Impressed, the foreman exclaimed, “You can start Monday.”

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday rolled by — and Thursday afternoon the foreman approached the young man and said, “You can pick up your paycheck on the way out today.”

Startled, the young man replied, “I thought you paid on Friday.”

“Normally we do,” said the foreman. “But we’re letting you go today because you’ve fallen behind. Our daily felling charts show that you’ve dropped from first place on Monday to last place today.”

“But I’m a hard worker,” the young man objected. “I arrive first, leave last, and even have worked through my coffee breaks!”

The foreman, sensing the young man’s integrity, thought for a minute and then asked, “Have you been sharpening your ax?”

The young man replied, “No sir, I’ve been working too hard to take time for that!”

Our lives are like that. We sometimes get so busy that we don’t take time to “sharpen the ax.” In today’s world, it seems that everyone is busier than ever, so they don’t invest the time needed to expand or improve their skills or knowledge.  The failure to do those things is often costly: Other people who ‘make the time’ to sharpen their axes pass them by; The problems and challenges that they face on the job could be addressed by their new learnings; With new skills, knowledge and advanced mindsets they could shorten the time they take to do their current tasks – in other words – they would be less busy!

Something is wrong if you are so busy now that you don’t have time to work on you. Imagine an airline saying that it’s planes are too busy flying for them to take the time for maintenance and/or key engine, electrical or electronic upgrades! Or that their pilots were too busy to attend training on the new technology that had already been installed in their planes!

Pause (for 20 more seconds) and think about this: Do you need an upgrade? Or do you just need to schedule some maintenance?

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