Once upon a time, there were two woodcutters named Peter and John. They were often at loggerheads over who chopped more wood. So one day, they decided to hold a competition to determine the winner. The rules were simple—whoever produce the most wood in a day wins.

So the next day morning, both of them took up their positions in the forest and started chopping away in their fastest possible speed. This lasted for an hour before Peter suddenly stopped. When John realized that there was no chopping sound from his opponent’s side, he thought: “Ah Ha! He must be tired already!” And he continued to cut down his trees with double the pace.

A quarter of an hour passed, and John heard his opponent chopping again. So both of them carried on synchronously. John was starting to feel weary when the chopping from Peter stopped once again. Feeling motivated and smelling victory close by, John continued on, with a smile on his face.

This went on the whole day. Every hour, Peter would stop chopping for fifteen minutes while John kept going relentlessly. So when the competition ended, John was absolutely confident that he would take the triumph.

But to John’s astonishment, Peter had actually cut down more wood. How did this even happen? “How could you have chopped down more trees than me? I heard you stop working every hour for fifteen minutes!”, exclaimed John.

Peter replied, “Well, it’s really simple. Every time I stopped work, while you were still chopping down trees, I was sharpening my axe.

Can you relate to the above story? Can you relate it to your work place pressure and your response to it?. All of us work, all of us are concerned about our performance, because the rewards in professional life generally commensurate with our performances. In our race to perform we forget that we can perform only and up-till when we are capable to perform. We can perform only when we are physically and mentally able to work. We can perform when we have necessary professional competency desired, we can perform when we are ready to handle the future professional challenge in the constantly changing world where technology and desirable skill sets are in constant flux.

Sharpening the saw is the metaphor which signifies preparing and maintaining oneself proactively on a regular basis, so that your professional saw is constantly sharp to cut the trees of achievement in your life. Scheduling this sharpening exercise within your schedule is of utmost requirement to maintain an upward climb in your professional and personal life.

Learning new skills, new languages, new processes, new procedure, keeps your saw sharp all the time. Sharpening the saw is an attitude. The readiness to always learn new things. Being teachable and not afraid to take initiative, are some traits which contribute to this attitude.

Keep chopping keep sharpening.

Krishna Kant Bajpai

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