Sharpening the saw

I have been fortunate enough to have just had an extremely busy  three months of being commissioned for management training, teambuilding events and coaching work, and am currently coming to the end of almost 30 straight days of 8 hours a day delivery.

I am not complaining. Please don’t feel sorry for me and certainly please don’t stop booking me. Besides, not having a boss means, effectively, that I am doing it to myself so unless I am going to make an official complaint to myself it is probably best to just roll with it.

However, it has led me to musing, usually during the “sorry for the delay to your journey. Badger on the line at West Drayton” on Stephen R. Covey’s 7th habit of Highly Effective people. In this 7th habit, he tells the parable of wood cutter cutting wood, as they tend to do. He has been at it all day, working so hard that he doesn’t notice that his saw has gone blunt and he is getting nowhere. Bizarre. Head down, getting engrossed in the detail of the job and not looking up to see how he is doing and draw breath. Could never happen to us.

Of course, the narratively imperative stranger comes up to him and suggests that he may do better if he sharpens his saw. The inevitable response is “I don’t have time. I’m too busy sawing this tree down”.

Could never happen to us.

Actually, it does. All the time. Sometimes, it takes someone else to tell us before we get it. Probably best if it’s not a stranger in a wood talking about saws, to be honest, but you get the picture. We all need a reboot strategy every now and again. A virtual Ctrl/Alt/Delete to take a step back, ask how we are doing and ask whether we are getting time to breathe.

Taking periodic walks in nature; watching circling Red Kites riding thermals over my garden with a half-full cafetierre (me, not the Kites); playing miserable songs on a guitar. These are some of mine. It’s time to think, to stop the world just for a bit. It can probably turn without us for a while.

Indeed, writing this blog on a sunny day in Greenwich Park after a training session, on an old fashioned bit of wood pulp and pen with not a pixel in sight has sharpened my saw just a little.


What do you do? And does it take someone else to remind you to do it?