There is a pencil in my desk drawer that is so dull it's now down to the wood. I drag it across the paper trying to get one last bit of lead in it. I grumble and curse a bit as I'm annoyed that it won't work. Why don't I just get up and sharpen the pencil? There is nothing quite like the feel of a freshly sharpened pencil.
I'm not just talking about pencils am I? This metaphor goes back a long time ago.
Abraham Lincoln said that if he had six hours to cut down a tree, he would spend the first four sharpening the saw.
Stephen Covey tells the story of a man who 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.
Sharpening the saw refers to preserving and enhancing the best asset you have...you! So, I am literally going to sharpen that pencil in my desk drawer. And then I'm going to see how I might need to sharpen my saw in life. How about you?