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The Axe

by Adam Zack — April 24, 2019

Adam Zack

It’s not how hard you chop, it’s how effective your chopping is.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

One of my favorite teaching stories is the one about the woodcutter who got a new job and really wanted to impress his boss.

Once upon a time, a very strong woodcutter asked for a job with a timber merchant and he got it. The pay was really good and so were the work conditions. He really liked his new boss and the company. For those reasons, the woodcutter was determined to do his best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work. The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees. “Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!” Very motivated by the boss’ words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he could only bring 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees. “I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on. “When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked. “Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”

It’s so easy to get caught up working so hard every day to stay ahead, impress the boss or just try and get your to-do list done. So easy that we neglect to allocate time to ourselves that is crucial in keeping us as the market leader in our competitive areas. Personal sharpening includes reading and education. It also includes taking the time to enjoy what we work so hard for: Our family, our friends, our personal indulgences. A perfectly sharpened ax is also perfectly balanced to chop most effectively when swung with precision. It’s not how hard you chop, it’s how effective your chopping is. Stay sharp, my friends.

Read More – Emotional Connection

Filed Under: Company Blog

2 responses to “The Axe”

  1. Lila Fulton says:

    I really enjoy reading your thoughts!
    Always very helpful.
    Keep them coming!

  2. Bill Alford says:

    THE AXE – This is one of the best examples of the flawed work ethic that says, “Try Harder…Do Better”. Planning, Execution, Re-evaluation, Adjustment, Execution, …and on and on!

    Excellent reminder that we must work smarter!

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