One of the 7 habits of highly effective people is what they call 'Sharpening the Saw'. This means taking time off, to work...

2250 2
2250 2

One of the 7 habits of highly effective people is what they call ‘Sharpening the Saw’. This means taking time off, to work on your body & soul (through physical exercise/fitness, sufficient sleep/rest),  taking time to meditate and soul-search, reading motivational and inspirational books, listening to music, taking solo-walks and for the spirit (helping those in need, performing religious activities, praying). We cannot achieve effectiveness without sharpening the saw.

A story is told, “It was the annual lumberjack competition and the final was between an older, experienced lumberjack and a younger, stronger lumberjack. The rule of the competition was quite simple: the person who could fell the most trees in a day would be the winner.

The younger lumberjack was full of enthusiasm and went off into the woods and set to work straight away. He worked all through the day and all through the night. As he worked, he could hear the older lumberjack working in another part of the forest and he felt more and more confident with every tree he chopped that he would win.

At regular intervals throughout the day, the noise of trees being cut down coming from the other part of the forest would stop. The younger lumberjack took heart from this, knowing that this meant the older lumberjack was taking a rest, whereas he could use his superior youth and strength and stamina to keep going.  At the end of the competition, the younger lumberjack felt confident he had won. He looked in front of him at the piles of felled trees that were the result of his ‘superhuman’ effort.

At the medal ceremony, he stood on the podium confident and expecting to be awarded the prize of champion lumberjack. Next to him stood the older lumberjack who looked surprisingly less exhausted than he felt.

When the results were read out, the younger man was devastated to hear that the older lumberjack had chopped down significantly more trees than he had. He turned to the older lumber jack and asked: “How can this be? I heard you take a rest every hour and I worked continuously throughout the night. What’s more, I am stronger and fitter than you, old man”.

The older lumberjack turned to him and said: “Every hour, I took a break to rest and sharpen my saw”

How many of us can see ourselves as the younger lumberjack? Working so hard each day and night to achieve those targets? Are our families and spouses complaining that we barely have time for them? Are we feeling so exhausted and worn-out despite having achieved our goals?

Sometimes we are so engaged in the rush of life, working so hard to achieve our academic and career goals, that we forget the most important aspects of ourselves: the body, soul and spirit. Being young, we believe we have ‘super-human’ effort and can keep going without breaking down, but this is not true. It is VERY CRUCIAL to take time off and sharpen the saw. That is the only way we shall have a fruitful and fulfilling life. Learn to play with your family, dance more, spend time with YOU and find out makes you tick (except your Business).You are amazing and you need to take more care of YOU!  To read more posts by Mercy, click HERE 

Photo creditJason Jones

In this article

Join the Conversation


  1. Bosco Juma       Reply

    Awesome. Great job.

  2. Egide NDAYIZEYE (General)       Reply

    Mercy,you are an amazing lady for real!I did not know you have such a crushing writing talent!It is really amazing,keep it and this will make you the best woman you want to be in the future.As for me,I will be reading your articles!thx,lots of blessings on your way!!!