How Sharp is Your Axe?
Have you ever attended a PGA golf event, an NBA basketball game or any other professional sporting event? If you have, you may have witnessed the continuous “sharpening of the axe” that the best of the best undertake. At a major golf tournament, you will see your favorite players on the range or on the practice green not only hours before their tee time, but often after their round is finished and the sun slips down over the horizon.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to cut down a tree and I’ll spend the first four hours sharpening my axe.” Your axe is the problem-solving ability you bring to your clients. If you are still doing the same things that you were doing five years ago and watching your personal productivity decline, you’ve probably got a pretty dull axe.
Management guru Peter F. Drucker said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Many of us have become very efficient at keeping our Facebook status up-to-date but haven’t yet learned how to use social media as a means of positioning ourselves. We may be well-versed on “what’s new?” in terms of product but don’t have a clue on how to use promotional products to solve organizational problems.
Make 2013 your year to invest. Invest in yourself. Have the courage to try some new ways of sharpening your axe. (Remember: Your axe is your ability to solve problems). Don’t just wait for your clients to ask you for stuff. Study their organization and proactively suggest solutions to problems and suggest more efficient ways to achieve results. When you try new things, it will be uncomfortable at first. Be ready for that and sharpen your axe anyway.
Lincoln’s quote suggests spending two thirds of your time in preparation and one third on actually doing. Those making millions of dollars in the world of sports probably spend up to ninety percent of their time in preparation and practice. We can learn from them if we want to earn like them.