The 7th habit of Covey’s – Sharpen the Saw is linked to you – it focuses on preserving and enhancing the greatest asset which you have – YOURSELF.
You may have heard the story which lies behind this habit :
A woodcutter strained to saw down a tree. A young man who was watching asked “What are you doing?”
“Are you blind?” the woodcutter replied. “I’m cutting down this tree.”
The young man was unabashed. “You look exhausted! Take a break. Sharpen your saw.”
The woodcutter explained to the young man that he had been sawing for hours and did not have time to take a break.
The young man pushed back… “If you sharpen the saw, you would cut down the tree much faster.”
The woodcutter said “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw. Don’t you see I’m too busy?”
The above parable and its lesson goes back to a time when using hand tools was common but the lesson is equally relevant in today’s world. We need to have a program of self-renewal in the four areas of our life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual in order to be successful in todays world eg :
Physical: Beneficial eating, exercising, and resting
Social/Emotional: Making social and meaningful connections with others
Mental: Learning, reading, writing, and teaching
Spiritual: Spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through meditation, music, art, prayer, or service
If you follow a program of renewal, you can create growth and change in your life. Sharpening your Saw keeps you fresh and increases your capacity to handle the challenges around you. Without this process of renewal, your body will become sluggish, thinking processes stale, emotions and spirit uncaring leading to a selfish attitude.
Remember, it’s all up to you. Feeling good doesn’t just happen. You have to decide and take out the required time to renew yourself. You can care for and revitalize yourself and get up every morning to face a new day in peace and harmony full of energy and go. Or you can wake up in the morning full of apathy because your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone. After all every day provides us with a new opportunity for renewal–a new opportunity to recharge yourself. All it takes is the desire, knowledge, and skill and finally the will to do it.
Sharpening the saw applies to us individually, but it also applies to institutions. All institutions – whether it’s the government, corporate, academic, or NGO – face a continual challenge to sharpen the saw at all levels – the corporate headquarters, the different business units / govt departments, etc. They need to keep abreast of change and upgrade constantly to be successful and deliver.
Finally – Sharpening the saw also applies to nations. In Pakistan for example we need to decide on our areas of focus. As a nation, are we proactive or reactive? Do we have a clear purpose and end in mind – do we value our freedom, democracy and integrity – or do we begin by setting our sights on something less? Are we putting first things first?
Bottom line : Let’s keep our physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual tools sharp at all levels