There is an old Irish legend, a story of two lumberjacks. Both men were skilled woodsmen although the first was much bigger, welding a powerful axe. He was so strong that he didn’t have to be as accurate for he still produced due to his sheer size. He was known far and wide for his ability to produce great quantities of raw material. Many hired him just because he was bigger. After all, his customers reasoned, everyone knows that bigger is always better!!
In spite of his size, the second woodsman’s fame was spreading for his skill was in his accuracy. There was very little waste in his efforts so his customers ended up with a better product for their money. Soon the word spread that his work was even better than his larger competition!
Upon hearing this, the larger man became concerned. He wondered, “How could this be? I am so much bigger that I MUST be better!” He proposed that the two compete with a full day of chopping trees to see who was more productive. The winner would be declared “The Greatest Lumberjack in all the land.” The smaller man agreed and the date for the bout was set.
The townspeople began talking. They placed their bets. The larger woodsman was the favorite to win with a 20 to 1 advantage. After all, bigger is better! The evening before the bout, both men sharpened their blades. The smaller woodsman strategized to win the bout. He knew he would never win because of his size. He needed a competitive advantage. Each man went to bed confident that he would be declared the winner.
Morning broke with the entire town showing up to cheer on the lumberjacks. The competition started with a the judge’s shout, “GO!” The first woodman, strong and broad, leaped into action. He sawed vigorously and continuously without stopping knowing that every tree he felled brought him closer to his coveted title.
The second woodsman, wasting no time and jumped into action as well, attacking his trees with every intention of winning the distinguished title. But unlike his larger competitor, this man stopped every hour to sharpen his blade.
This worried the townspeople greatly. They murmured among themselves. Surely, he could never win if he didn’t work longer and harder than his competitor. His friends pleaded with him to increase his speed, to work harder but to no avail. This pattern continued until the end of the day when both men heard the judge yell “TIME!”, signaling the end of the match.
The larger man stood, winded and exhausted but proudly by his pile of trees knowing he had given his best. Surely, he was the winner! The smaller woodsman also stood by his pile of trees though, unlike his competitor, the smaller man was still fresh, ready to continue if necessary. He also stood confident of his efforts having toiled mightily for the prize.
When all the trees were counted, it was announced that the second woodsman had indeed felled more trees and had won the title of “The Greatest Lumberjack in all the Land!” He happily shook the judge’s hand gripping the new blade that signified the win. The larger man, and most of the townspeople, stood in stunned silence at the announcement for he was, after all, stronger with the larger axe!
But the smaller woodsman, well, he was not surprised. For he knew all along that in order to win especially against a larger competitor, his instrument had to be continually sharpened. His axe was smaller and therefore each swing must be more accurate in order to produce the better product. By stopping the sharpen his instrument, he had proven, once and for all, that he was the better man for the job.
Sharpening the Saw
In his book, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," Stephen Covey talks about sharpening the saw. He says:
"It means exercising all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently in a wise and balanced way. To do this we have to be proactive."
The "dimensions of our nature" that he is referring to are the following: Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, and Physical. Keeping balance between these four areas in our life brings greater peace, happiness, and purpose. You define what it is in your life that you are committed to.
I'll admit, my situation is and has been very similar to where it was when I started THR over a year ago! I've been up and down in dress sizes, and have not focused on my health the way that I should have. I have found myself going over old posts to motivate myself again and put ME back into the spotlight. Yet, most of the time I feel like I am spinning my wheels.
Now, I as stare at the mountain of laundry ahead of me (a side effect from moving,) I realize that I am getting back to where I can focus on myself and my family. Although it was really nice to be living with my parents and spending quality time with them, I have to admit, I am ready to be just us again. My life is still crazy busy! "High School Musical" doesn't open for another month, I am recruiting for a children's music education program that I am teaching from my home called Let's Play Music, and I still teach voice lessons. Top this off with the HUGE garden that I have planted and I don't really have down time. Alas, I find myself sitting at my computer trying to organize my life into something bearable. My life FEELS overwhelming, and I am letting it affect me! Therefore, today, I have decided to "sharpen my saw." It's time to sit down, prioritize, and make room for the important things in my life. I find that if I am put together, the rest sort of puts itself together. Anyone else notice that?
Give it a shot! Take some time to re-set goals. I mean REALLY set them, like, write those suckers down! Start with ONE goal for each dimension in your life: Spiritually, Mentally, Emotionally, and Physically. Come up with a game plan for each goal, and focus on those things for a week. I'll add my weekly goals at the end of my posts for awhile to help me stay on track. Let me know how it went for you!
Spiritually: Take time to have REAL, heart-felt, prayer. Too often, I end up spouting off the "go-to list." That needs to change. I need time to have a one-on-one with God.
Mentally: Put some time into studying and preparing for rehearsals, voice lessons, and Let's Play Music recruiting. The "work" aspect of my life seems to be "treading water." I attend to it when they call, but then I'm only half as good as I could be because of lack of preparation.
Emotionally: FAMILY TIME! My life is so busy that I need to PLAN family time. I want to have at least ONE night a week where we GO OUT and DO something as a family. Golf, Mini-Golf, Hiking, Bikes, Lagoon, whatever. We need it. I have about 10 other goals for this category, but those will come when I get a handle on this one.
Physically: Here it is! Time to pay attention to my body again! My goal is to pay attention to my hunger scale. I KNOW that I am eating past the time when I am no longer hungry. There seems to be this small line where you aren't hungry anymore, but you aren't full. THIS is when I need to stop eating. I just have to slow down and NOTICE it!
Ways to Sharpen the SawPhysically
Organize a space dedicated to yourself
Go to the Spa
Have quality conversation
Complete a "bucket list" item
Listen to music
Learn something new
Write in a journal
Hold Hands with Someone
If you'd like, go ahead and share your goals with me! Having someone to account to really does help! I'm not even sure that people read this, but it certainly helps me! Don't forget to check out our Facebook Page!