We have been working on a compass points metaphor since September – thinking of our lives and beings divided into four compass points: soul, heart, strength, and mind. Dealing with the soul, there are two directions – spirituality and rest and play. Last Friday we looked at something closely related to rest – play! Yes, how we play affects how we rest. This Friday, October 30, our topic is “Sharpening Our Saws.”
In 1989 Stephen Covey wrote a book entitled The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.The book has sold over 25 million copies and is one of the most popular self-help books of all time. The seventh habit that Covey speaks of is the habit of “sharpening our saws.” It is based on a well-known story about two lumberjacks, and is an essential aspect of rest and play.
Here’s a little story about saws to help you understand where we hope to go.
These two lumberjacks are near the end of a long day, cutting down large trees since just after sun-up, using an old fashioned two-person hand saw, with one of them on each end pulling back and forth. As the day comes to a close, a passerby happens upon the two lumberjacks and pauses to watch them work their craft. The passerby looks around andsees dozens of large trees that have been felled just that day, but at the same time notices that the lumberjacks are making absolutely no progress on the last tree of the day. They are half-way through the tree and no matter how hard they work, they cannot cut through this last tree. The two men finally call it quits and strike up a conversation with the passerby. They point proudly to all the trees that they had cut that day, explaining that the last few trees have taken them twice as long to cut, and that the last tree was impossible for them to topple. They were frustrated and perplexed as to why this was, and assumed it was because they were worn out from all the effort they had exerted. It was just then that the passerby asked them the key question: “I’m just curious, did you ever take time during the day tostop and sharpen your saw?”
The two lumberjacks were so busy working that they had forgotten to take time to sharpen the saw. They were probably working just as hard in the afternoon as they had been in the morning, perhaps even harder, but were less and less effective as the day wore on. And not only were they less effective, but they ended the day feeling discouraged. Their last experience of the day was one of failure because they were not able to get through that final tree.
As you make your way through this busy week, don’t forget to take time to sharpen your saw. And if you need help with how to do that, come on Friday for some sharpening tips!