Sharpen the saw –
self improvement


Podcast Series Episode

Podcast Transcript:

This episode “Sharpen the Saw” shares the sixth of my 10 methods to manage time effectively


Sharpen the saw – self improvement


This episode is about the “Sharpen the Saw” method for self-improvement. This episode is  part of the mini-series full of tips to manage your time better and  to fulfill your life’s purpose. In the transcription of this podcast, you’ll see the link to my website where you can see more resources.

Sharpen the saw, meaning


In Habit 7, Stephen Covey shares a story about two lumberjacks, which I will embellish.


Steve and Mark were great lumberjacks.  

Steve was a huge man and incredibly strong.  

Mark was small and wiry.  

Every year, the lumberjacks all got together for their annual skills contest and the centerpiece was the competition for Lumberjack of the Year title.  

Whomever could cut down the most trees over a 5-day period would win the coveted MVL trophy. 

Both were given brand new sharp saws for the contest.  

On the first day of the competition, Steve used his great strength to cut down 4 trees.  

On the second day, his axe was a little less sharp and he cut down 3.  

On the third day, as his ax continued to dull, he cut down 2. 

On  the fourth day  he only managed  to cut down one tree.  

On the fifth  and final day his ax was so dull he could not even cut down a single tree.  

In total, Steve cut down 10 trees. 

On the first day,  Mark cut down his first tree, stopped to sharpen his saw and by the time he was finished the day was over.  

He was losing 4 to 1 and things looked bleak.  

On the second day,  Mark continued to sharpen his saw and since it was sharper each time, he used it to cut down two trees.  

He had doubled his production, but was still way behind.  

On the third day,  he kept on sharpening and his numbers improved to three trees.  

On the fourth day,  he cut down 4 trees and on the final day, he broke a new all-time single day record with five  and easily won the contest 15 to 10!


Every time Steve used his saw, it lost some of its edge and became steadily less effective.  

Every time Mark used his saw, since he took the time to sharpen it, it became steadily more effective.  

When I first heard this story, it had a tremendous impact on me and the “Sharpen the Saw” method of self-improvement has probably had as much to do with my long-term success as anything.


Lose momentum


While I always plan  and  continue my education on the latest tools in my work both with non-profit organizations and with marketing,  I also learned that when you start slowing down you might lose momentum.  

When your business is flying, you are in momentum. It is only when  you lose momentum, and your business has come to a flat spot do you look back and wish you had done what it takes to keep the momentum going.


Increase confidence


One of my mentors, Mack Hall III once told me about the old-fashioned water pump.  

It takes a lot of work to pump the arm up and down to get the water flowing. But once it is, the arm of the pump takes on a life of its own and you can keep it going with your pinkie. 

However, f you take your hand off the handle , the pump will slow down and eventually stop. 

You’ll need to start all over again.  

When people lose momentum in their business and remember how hard it was to get there, most people never try hard enough again.  

Even though you have the ability and you’ve done it before, once you lose confidence in yourself it is very hard to get it back.


Self-improvement – building self esteem


The point is, if you feel your business is starting to lose momentum, don’t take your hand off the pump.

Meaning,  keep working – but work smarter, not harder!  

If you do find yourself in a flat spot, don’t try to work through it because this will just dull your saw and hurt your self-confidence. 

You need to take a step back and find what new tools you need to “sharpen the saw”. 

Increase self-confidence through self-development. 


Self-development skills – abundance mindset


How do you continually work smarter, not harder? 

Find people who are doing what you do professionally and are successful.   When you are in momentum, share what you are doing with others and when they are in momentum, they will share with you! 

Have an abundance mindset, not a scarcity mindset and you will always have others willing to teach you what they are doing.  

Learn what they are doing and “sharpen your saw”, so you can keep pumping and stay in momentum. 


Self-improvement ideas to sharpen the saw


The best way to learn from someone so you can sharpen the saw is to shadow them.  

I arrange to be like a fly on the wall as I observe them in action (nowadays usually by joining on a Zoom with them) as they help their new business partners.  

Obviously, they will ask permission for you to observe. But if done while sharing the abundance mindset, they will find help when they need it in return.


In the next podcast, we will learn how to “Organize Your Mind – Getting Things Done Method” and clear out the clutter, so your brain operates at its maximum.


For more guidance and tips on how to live your dream life, go to my website,  to access content-rich articles and more.


You can also access a link to that web page through the show notes, if you are listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast platforms.



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