A very strong lumberjack once applied for a job with a wood supplier. He was hired for the position and even offered a generous wage, and was thus determined to succeed and do his very best. His employer gave him an ax and showed him the way to the area of the forest in which he would be working.
On his first day, the lumberjack felled 18 trees, leaving his boss very pleased. “Well done. Keep up the good work,” he remarked pleased.
Buoyed and motivated by his employer’s encouragement, the lumberjack showed up for work the next day even more enthusiastic than he had been the day before. To his disappointment, however, he managed to fell just 15 trees that day.
On the third day, the lumberjack worked even harder, but ended up with a tally of only 10 trees.
And as each day passed, despite putting all he had into his work, the lumberjack managed to cut down fewer and fewer trees.
“I must be losing my strength,” he thought to himself, and decided to approach his employer to apologize and express his inability to understand what was happening to him.
“When was the last time you sharpened the blade of your ax?” his boss asked.
“Sharpen?” replied the lumberjack. “I didn’t have the time to stop to sharpen my blade; I was too busy chopping down trees.”
Excerpted from Points of You, The Coaching Game, Yaron Golan, Efrat Shani
If you’re seeing diminishing returns while putting in the same (or even additional) effort, examine your saw. A dull saw is defined as burnout, frustration, lessening success, and failure. What if you realized it wasn’t the economy, your employees, clients, your product, and your competition. No, it was the most painful cut of all: your own efforts under optimized.
In my training with John Maxwell he states, “When you’re good, just by showing up you’re already better than 50% of your competition. If you put in some effort, you’re in the top 20%. But if you apply all that you are, you can be in the top 1%.”
If you’re not having a Paul Bunyan kind of day on a regular basis, sharpen your saw and be part of the 1% club.
How do you accomplish that? Look around you for resources. Look within for your true beliefs about your own success. Look at what you’ve done in the past when you were felling your own 18 trees a day. What’s changed? Where and when did your ax get dull? And could you use a little grinding to sharpen up?
My grinding shop is open. No obligation. Just an opportunity to hear your words and ideas reflected back with honesty, clarity and feedback.
Taking time to sharpen yourself is the greatest gift you give to your employees, clients, family and yourself. Good days are great. Great days are optimal. And the best days come when the axe is sharp, the aim is clear and the timber is worth chopping down.
August is a great month to reflect and recharge. Contact me for a sharpening session and watch the sparks fly.