This time of year we are between leaf seasons. Fall is literally when they all fall to the ground and Spring is when we finish blowing them back into the forest around our home. The past two days have been exceptionally warm in Georgia, so I strapped on the leaf blower and did a little clean up. Our small engine repair guy did a little work on our blower, and today it ran amazingly well. I was able to get farther and blow more than in the past few months. I was grateful for talented people who know how to fix things.
As I was blowing leaves the story of the Lumberjack came to mind. When he woke he spent an hour sharpening his saw, then he spent the next six hours cutting wood. Each day he had the same routine, sharpen then work. This wise Lumberjack started training a new worker who did not see the need to spend an hour each day sharpening his saw. So the new man checked the blade each morning then spent that first hour cutting wood. He figured he could get more wood cut by working than by sharpening.
After a couple weeks the new man fell behind in his work and had to work extra hours to keep up with the wise Lumberjack who only cut for six hours. Eventually the young man had to work eight to ten hours to cut as much wood as the wise Lumberjack, getting more and more behind each day. After about six months of arduous labor the young man stopped his wise teacher and asked why he was behind all the time. The answer was simple, the wise Lumberjack observed. You can’t cut wood with a dull blade, so when you work the blade too much without sharpening it the blade becomes less effective.
We all want to be successful. We all want to produce good work. We all want to get as much done as possible each day with the limited time we have to work. So what do we do, we cram more work into the day and spend less time sharpening our saw. Over time our skills get dull and we have to work harder to do the same amount of work. Somehow we think working means producing instead of learning and sharpening our saw.
I was reminded today that we need to sharpen our saw everyday, not just when it is convenient or when e think we can afford to spend the time. We need to do something everyday to sharpen our skills and keep ourselves at our peak performance. It may seem counterproductive and yet in reality it is what really makes us better at what we do.
Maybe today is the day you need to start spending more time sharpening your saw. Work smarter not harder. More hours does not mean more effective. There is life out there outside of work, so use your skills and talents wisely so you can do great work and do it well…then stop working.