Some people aren't really sure if they are happy.
Some lessons in life just seem to stick with you.
They become an undercurrent to the way you think, live and do business.
It’s beyond knowing, it’s an understanding.
Two plus two will always be four.
No matter the day, the climate or your mood. It just is.
That’s how I felt after a two day business seminar sponsored by the organization I worked for in Philadelphia.
The seminar was the budding philosophy of Stephen Covey who recently passed away.
His best selling book, ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ was sweeping the business and self help community. Everyone wanted to make the shift from quantity to quality. And it all seemed to rest upon the character of their staff.
Tucked away in an airport hotel conference room, I gathered with staff members from a diverse background of organizations. That first morning was the toughest.
We were uncomfortable, and of course we were all sizing each other up and comparing. By mid day we were split into teams and began breaking the ice. When we got to the seventh principal, “Sharpen The Saw” it finally began to sink in. Our lives are a direct reflection of the preparation we make to live; we have to sharpen our saw!
Sun Tzu, author of the famed ‘Art of War’ said, “Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.” We all are born with an innate ability, quality or gift.
But what separates the average and ordinary from those who make history and leave legacies is the time invested to hone those skills. If you’ve ever worked with a dull tool you know exactly what I am talking about.
Try carving meat with a blunt knife or cutting down a tree branch with a dull axe. The duller the tool, the more strength is wasted. By staying sharp, we keep an edge that makes us better individuals. We perform tasks with a certain pride that speaks from the place of our noble purpose.
Here are a few ways to make sure you are staying sharp:
Staying sharp starts with a mindset that is active: In a society encumbered with 24 hour access to everything in the world via the internet, it is very easy to get home and simply want to ‘veg’ out on the couch. But a mind in motion tends to stay in motion. What increases our success is when we active mentally. Reading, family interaction and listening to audio books are a great way to stay mentally limber.
Staying sharp gets easier with the right company: Essentially we are who we connect with. Whether for good or bad, our environment plays a major role in our daily behavior. If you want to get sloppy and dull, hang with people who have no drive or goals. They will influence you to slow down and smell life’s roses. At their pace, you soon find you are behind in pursuit of your dreams. That’s why we must be around those that challenge us, provoke us to excellence to do and be our very best.
Staying sharp won’t always be comfortable: If you think about it, sharpening a kitchen knife involved a clashing. It is the friction that does the sharpening. So we need to understand that sometimes to grow, a mentor, a friend or co worker may need to brush against us to create the friction. This friction is what causes our growth. We are better because others held us to a higher standard and expectation. We can’t conceive development without it.
It’s been a few years and jobs ago since that eye opening session.
But through the years of working with customers ranging from patients at a hospital, brides needing wedding consultations to clients needing interior design suggestions I have held onto Mr. Covey’s principles. In particular sharpen the saw.
It’s helped me embrace some tough situations because I knew the friction was only making me better.
With this truth, I hope your perspective get’s a good sharpening.