Sharpen Your Axe!

If you are like me, you have a lot on your plate.  You might even be spinning several full plates on tall sticks!  I am not sure if I am the only one who uses the phrase busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger, but I tend to say that frequently.  Lots of folks that are in my type of work – I won’t say just recruiters, but those that eat what they kill – you know who you are, recruiters, salespeople, consultants and anyone else whose revenue is dependent on them staying engaged and productive on a day-in, day-out basis, need to find a way to sharpen their axe.

You may know the story here – smaller than usual man aspires to be a lumberjack, goes to the boss and says I want to be a lumberjack and is told you are too small and would not keep up.  The man is very persistent and the boss likes this so gives him a chance.  After the first day the boss is surprised when the man comes within a few trees of the best men he has, so he decides to keep him.  On the second day the man comes in with even more ambition but falls even farther behind the regular lumberjacks.  The boss watches him work harder than everyone else, however, and decides to keep him yet another day.  This day the boss watches the man start earlier and work later than any other lumberjack but produces less result.  He then asks the man – did you ever once stop to sharpen your axe?

All of us need to.  Sometimes this is accomplished by simply getting out of the office or away from the work environment for lunch, or walking around your building, or any number of things that will allow you to clear your head and come back at the afternoon all fresh and energetic.  I remember reading a book called Rhinoceros Success by Scott Alexander and in that book I was struck by a similar section that talked about one of the qualities of a rhino is that they recharge their batteries by laying in a mud hole and taking a mud bath.  Note: this is a great book for recruiters AND sales people alike – great comparisons to the qualities we can all use to be more successful in our work and the characteristics of a rhino!

What is your mud hole?  For some it may be the week of vacation they spend lying on a beach under the hot sun, and others may need to take that hike into the mountains to see terrain seldom touched by others.  If you can’t get away periodically to recharge in that way try doing something in smaller doses.

For me, the game of soccer provides a short getaway and ability to run off some steam while staying in shape in the process.  Luckily, as a youth soccer coach involved with my son’s team, I met a parent of one of the boys that invited me to play with his group.  As it turned out, this friendship has grown into almost a decade of soccer playing and dozens of us have played together for many years.  Interestingly, there may be over 10 countries represented in any one of our games out of 22 players on the field (or pitch as the Brits call it).  Most of them call the game futbol, and all of them speak in several languages which can be most entertaining.  Either way, the game has provided me with a year-round activity that can be accomplished in 90 minutes which allows me to Sharpen My Axe!

Find something that works for you and see how much more you can chop through in a day when you are sharp and fresh.

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