How Sharp is your Ax?

There was once a strong young man who was offered a job as a woodcutter.  He set about his task with energy; the first week, he turned 18 trees into firewood.  The second week, he worked just as hard, but was surprised to find he had chopped only 11 trees.  The third week, despite working nonstop from morning till night, the number was six, and he went despairingly to the foreman to offer his resignation.  “I am losing my strength.  I can no longer cut as many trees as I once could.”

The foreman looked at the young man, who seemed to him in fine health.  “Have you thought of sharpening your ax?” he asked.

“Sharpen my ax? Who has time to sharpen an ax?”  the  young man asked indignantly.  “I have been too busy chopping wood!”

When we aren’t making the kind of progress we feel we should be making, the natural response is to redouble our efforts.  Sometimes, though, the better response is not to work harder, but to work smarter.  Look at your tools. Analyze your processes.  Are you directing your resources in the most effective ways?  Or are you pouring all your strength into chopping wood with a dull ax?

The above is from a column in the Rotary Magazine, by K.R. Ravindran – President, Rotary International.

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