Take an assessment
Back to Blog

Sharpen the Axe!


Just work hard and you will achieve success. That is a statement we have probably all heard before, if not many times over. Unfortunately, it is just not a statement that always holds true.

In reality, hard work is a vital part of success, but it is only a part. The people who consistently achieve the greatest level of success are the ones who spend as much time and effort investing in the tools they need in order to be competitive in today’s marketplace. How can you do that?

One of my favorite quotes is from President Abraham Lincoln, when he said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”.

Let’s take a look at the wisdom he displayed when he said that. He knew that most people would be assigned a task and would immediately begin chopping the wood in order to get a “head start”. He also understood that they would quickly wear down. The principle here is not the number of swings applied or even the strength of the person swinging the axe. What really makes the axe achieve maximum effectiveness is the sharpness of the blade.

I realize the quote makes a great example about proper preparation. I would imagine that a deeper look would show that the most effective lumberjack not only sharpened the blade, but also took the time to stop often and keep it sharp throughout the process.

Why? Because sharpening the axe is not a one-time process. As it is used, the axe must continually be sharpened over and over. That is what makes it more effective than one that becomes duller with each passing swing.

Apply this principle to leadership. I have seen far too many people who are giving their all, working hard, and swinging the axe day in and day out without achieving the results of their peers or competitors and wondering “How can I work any harder?” Perhaps this is you. If it is, let me encourage you to take the time to stop swinging and sharpen your axe. Remember, it is not a one-time event, but something that must be done continually to achieve the results you seek.

Find a mentor, read good books, listen to audios, join an association, attend seminars and workshops, or whatever else you can. Just do something. I do all of the items listed. It isn’t about finding the one “big thing” that is going to make a difference. It is about steadily sharpening the blade on the axe so that every swing achieves maximum effectiveness.



Don't miss a beat!

Subscribe now for strategies to Communicate, Connect, and Convert at a higher level. 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.