The two had not worked together before, but it mattered little. In swinging an ax through the day splitting rounds into firewood there was very little working together that took place. Each man would chop and split as many logs as each could manage.
This day the sun bore down on them and made them long for recreation. The first logger stayed on the hillside, swinging his ax, splitting the rounds, and throwing the results of his efforts into a pile. He was a strong man, blessed not only with strength but endurance. He could withstand a long day on the hillside making firewood. He prided himself on his work ethic.
Throughout the course of this long day the first logger continually noticed his cohort walking away from his labors and taking a break from the work they each had. Several times he noticed the second logger casually walking with his ax back to their truck for what he presumed were periods of relaxation. He always returned to work. But it seemed clear to the first logger that this second woodsman lacked his endurance, or at-worst, had a weak work ethic.
When the day ended the first logger made his way across the hillside to the place where the second logger had been toiling through the day. As he came upon the second loggers wood pile he was surprised and astonished. The second loggers pile of firewood far exceeded his own efforts. He was dumbfounded. And he asked the logger how this was possible. “I worked throughout the day. I never took a break, and I never slowed down. But you were constantly walking away from your work and constantly taking breaks. And here, I find your wood pile far exceeds my own. What sort of magic did you perform to accomplish this?”
The second logger merely smiled and said, “What you didn’t see when I was taking my breaks is that I was sharpening my ax each time.”
I was told this parable many years ago. From what it originates I have no idea. But it was always a story from which I need reminding. See, I am far more like the first logger than the second.
The lesson from the story is simple. You must continually sharpen your ax as you work. If not it becomes dull and your work becomes harder. Whatever you do in life you must take the time to educate or re-educate yourself. Motivational speaker and sales trainer Zig Ziglar
said it best “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Besides motivation, you can also apply the same lesson to education and training. Our brains are like a slowly leaking bucket. If you are not continually refilling the bucket it will eventually be empty. But as long as you’re refilling it you will always have a full bucket.
One of the best ways you can sharpen your ax is to read. Traditional or online newspapers and magazines, articles and blogs are good. But books are best. The best sales trainer I ever heard was Brian Tracy. This millionaire businessman says of reading, “If you read one hour per day in your field, that will translate into about one book per week. … Regular reading will transform your life completely.” If you are not in the habit, it’s hard to do. Like physical exercise you have to make it a priority. If I didn’t work-out when I first get up in the morning I would never do it and I would be a soft, flabby, unhealthy person. Reading has to be the same way. Find the time. Schedule it into your routine. And keep it a high priority.
So take the time to read and re-fill your leaky bucket. Sharpen your ax and see the chips fly and your wood pile grow. You’ll thank me later. I promise.
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