A while back, I spent a wonderful weekend in Saginaw, Michigan, with some really great…
Tip of the Week
Tip: Sharpen your axe!
Most of you have probably heard the illustration of the two men who went out into the woods to cut down trees. After a while, both of them realized that their axe blades had become dull. One of the men stopped and said that he was going to sharpen his axe. His friend replied that he didn’t have time to stop and do that because he had too much work to do. After about an hour, the first man came back and began working again. By the end of the day, the man with the sharp axe had cut down more trees than his friend. And, of course the point of the story is, even though one of the men worked harder, the other one worked smarter. He took the time to improve his situation so he could be more effective at his task.
Now, even though you may have heard that story before, it raises the question: When was the last time that you sharpened your axe? We live in a world that is changing so rapidly that personal growth and development is no longer an option if you want to remain effective. It is something that you must constantly seek. I recently read that the average person over thirty years of age is likely to only read one book per year and that very few will ever learn how to use a computer or an advanced cell phone. I certainly understand that dilemma! I am part of the generation that is caught between old school and new school technology. It has been during my lifetime that we have gone from using pens and papers and mimeograph machines to email, instant messages, text messages and the like. All of that to say that technology has certainly advanced rapidly in the last decade!
Those who graduate from college discover how quickly what they learned becomes obsolete and that if they don’t take the time to “sharpen their axe,” they will soon fall behind in this rapidly changing world.
It is critical, then, that we continue to develop our skills. Good skills lead to an abundant life. It takes time to learn a new skill and it can be very frustrating at first, but anything worth learning or doing is worth doing poorly until you can learn how to do it better. No one is born with the expertise to do everything well at the outset. It takes time, effort and energy. We must have a mindset of outgrowing our current situation, otherwise it is easy to get stuck in a rut and lose the perspective that we must have in order to make life better.
It all boils down to the desire to improve. A person who wants to improve, will do so in order to better their situation. Having a “tumbleweed mentality” not only prevents change, but also causes a person to be tossed back and forth by every situation that comes their way.
In order to prevent becoming irrelevant or outdated in your skills, why not develop a personal growth plan? Keep CDs in your vehicle and listen to them as you travel. Download pod casts to use while working out in the gym or walking. There are many good, inspirational messages on iTunes and lots of them are free. If you want to gain wisdom, insight and knowledge, you must be willing to seek it for your own personal growth.
Someone humorously said that if you are the smartest person in your group, then you need to find a new group! I think that is very true. I constantly surround myself with people who are smarter, better, more motivated and higher achievers than I am. It creates in me a desire to do better and provides a climate that is conducive to growth.
Take an oak tree, for example. An acorn that is planted in a small container may grow, but it will not become the expansive tree it was designed to be because it is in a restrictive environment that stunts its growth. I believe that you are much more important than an oak tree! I believe that you have greatness inside of you because of the way you were created. But it takes effort on your part to seek new opportunities to develop your skills and take on the responsibility of sharpening your own axe if you are to grow to your full potential.
I have told you before that I graduated from five different colleges. That is not said with arrogance, but rather with humility because I realize that even with all of that education, I know so little in comparison to how much there is to know! And, yet I am still hungry to read and expand in different areas of my life in order to become bigger and better and more of a blessing to others.
If you want to have a greater impact, then it will require that you, too, invest the time, effort and energy necessary for you to sharpen your own axe and skills. I guarantee you it will be worth the effort!
Tip: Sharpen your axe!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm