Once upon a time, a woodcutter strained to saw down a tree. A young woman who was watching asked “What are you doing?”
“Are you blind?” the woodcutter replied. “I’m cutting down this tree.”
The young woman was unabashed. “You look exhausted! Take a break. Sharpen your saw.”
The woodcutter explained to the young woman that he had been sawing for hours and did not have time to take a break.
The young woman argued, “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?”
My business buddy Mark reminded of this story the other day. It’s a story Stephen Covey tells in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
We’re all guilty of not stopping to sharpen the saw.
I noticed this in my pole class earlier this week: we spend 40 minutes or so actually learning moves, combinations, and tricks from our teacher, then the remaining 20 minutes or so is practise time. We get the mats out, and we practise stuff we’re working on.
I was working on a new trick, something fairly advanced — in fact, here it is — and I realised something. I get so busy working hard on stuff like that, I forget to sharpen my saw.
Or, in this particular case, work on my splits.
See, that move will look amazing when I can actually do the splits; right now, I’m a couple of inches off flat. I’d be much better putting my time into getting a flat split than trying that particular move over and over again.
The handstand part of it, I can already do with my eyes shut. It’s the flexibility that’s not there yet.
It’s all about groundwork, whether that’s woodcutting or pole or writing or business.
If we don’t put in the groundwork, it’ll take that much longer to get the results we want.
One of the most important saws we can sharpen is who we really are: what we stand for, what makes us different from everyone else out there, and what will really get people falling in love with our businesses and wanting to buy from us — not just once, but over and over again.
But it’s a saw most business owners overlook, or skim over — so they find it very tough to stand out in a world where everyone is clamouring for attention all the time.
If that’s something you’re struggling with, I can help. Why not Borrow My Brain for half an hour over Skype? You can ask me anything about marketing and running a business. Anything at all!
Interested? You can Borrow My Brain, here.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS Last night at pole, I managed to deadlift into a handstand at pole. I don’t have a video of it yet – I want to be less shaky and tomato-coloured when I do it – but rest assured it’s pretty badass.