“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
It’s so easy to follow the philosophy that hard work is the only thing that will guarantee our success, but hard work on the wrong things will only leave us stiff the next day.
If we focus on balancing our preparation with perspiration, we will find that our success is much closer than we imagined!
This quote reminds us that it is vital to invest time upfront in actively preparing and planning for any task at hand. Spending our time on a targeted activity aimed to help achieve task completion, as opposed to starting without undergoing this crucial planning step, we consciously work towards a successful outcome, with the best use of our time and energy.
Of course, if we spend all of our time in preparation, we won’t accomplish anything.
Planning and preparation create space for us to receive and assimilate passed-down wisdom from those who are there to advise or mentor us.
If you spend too little time and effort ‘sharpening the axe’, the resultant outcome, even if successful, usually involves a lot of wasted time, resources and effort in the actual execution of what we have set out to achieve.
In his best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Dr Stephen Covey takes this further. He attributes an increase in personal productivity to finding a balanced strategy for renewal in these four aspects of life: Physical, Social, Mental, and Spiritual.
He illustrates the sharpening of one’s (saw or) axe by means of this lumberjack story as a metaphor for the need to stay sharp in life and to continually seek ways for self-improvement:
“A man was walking through a forest when he came across a frustrated lumberjack.
The lumberjack was trying to cut down a tree with a saw and was swearing and cursing as he laboured in vain.
‘What’s the problem?’ The man asked.
‘My saw’s blunt and won’t cut the tree properly.’ The lumberjack responded.
‘Why don’t you just sharpen it?’
‘Because then I would have to stop sawing.’ Said the lumberjack.
‘But if you sharpened your saw, you could cut more efficiently and effectively than before.’
‘But I don’t have time to stop!’ The lumberjack retorted, getting more frustrated.
The man shook his head and kept on walking, leaving the lumberjack to his pointless frustration.”
Most of us can relate to this story. It is so easy to feel frustrated and unable to cope with all that life throws at us. So often instead of developing ourselves, and taking the time to actively plan and prepare to become more effective – on both a personal and financial level – we keep on struggling with that blunt axe or saw.
At WellsFaber, we help you identify the axe or saw (the right tools to protect your financial future), we help you sharpen them so that you can get to chopping and doing what you do best. Let go of your frustrations and let us help you live in your wealthspace.