Sharp Tools Are the Most Effective

Fall 1994. I hired on as an apprentice carpenter for a company that built staircases and hung trim.  Thus began, for me, a lifelong enjoyment for working with wood, especially hardwoods like red oak and poplar.  I was privileged to learn how to build curved staircases and these now fill quite a few houses in lower Michigan, where we lived at the time and have since migrated back to.

A carpenter learns very quickly that it is critical to keep his tools in good repair in order to do fine woodwork.  Chiefly, this means sharpening cutting implements regularly.  You may be surprised to find that dull tools—saws, chisels, router bits, etc.—not only do inferior work, marring the wood, but they are also dangerous.  You risk injury using chisels with dull blades.  A sharp saw does the work quickly, effectively, and safely.

In life, we have tools that we use to mold our lives and become effective and reach our potential.  Like planes and gouges, they must be kept sharp to be effective.  Here are a few:

  • Vocational Skills – What talents and acuities do you have that you can sharpen now and in the days ahead? I work in Information Technology and am a musician.  I try to read up on the latest technological innovations as well as become more proficient with the software apps I use in my work.  And with my instruments, I practice and learn new stuff.  Do you have a plan for skills development?
  • Relationships – “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” (Jim Rohn) What kinds of relationships do you cultivate to 1) add value to others and 2) help in your own development?  If you walk with wise and ambitious people, you fuel your passion to grow and develop.  But if you make a practice of hanging with people who are pessimistic and complacent, like it or not, it will affect you.  Enthusiasm is contagious.  So is discouragement and criticism.  Choose wisely.
  • Reading ­– That readers are leaders is axiomatic. And you are called to lead.  What kinds of books do you plan on reading or listening over the next year?  Here’s a good place to start: The Magic of Thinking Big (David J. Schwartz); How To Read A Book (Mortimer Adler & Charles Van Doren); Spiritual Leadership (J. Oswald Sanders); Emotional Intelligence (Daniel Goleman); Talent Is Overrated (Geoff Colvin).  Possibilities are endless, but whatever you do, develop a reading plan for the next year.
  • Physical Fitness – Your effectiveness is charged or limited by your physical fitness—or lack of it. Regular cardiovascular exercise 1) improves your focus, 2) makes you feel better because of endorphins and 3) increases your longevity.  Also, there are numerous other benefits to staying fit, fighting the national epidemic of obesity.  Your career and its growth are one of these. As some have said, “Your shape will shape your future.”

Now go sharpen your tools and build.  You will be astounded at what they produce.

 

Suggested Resources:

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (Stephen R. Covey)

Stay Sharp: 52 Ways to Keep Your Mind, Not Lose It (David B. Biebel et al)

 

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Taking Charge

Taking ChargeThe opening chapter of Jack Canfield’s remarkable book, The Success Principles, has this challenging title: “Take 100% Responsibility For Your Life.”

The chapter is worth the price of the book.  Easy.  It is slowly but surely changing my life.  The concept will radically alter your destiny if you embrace it and practice it.    And great mentors talk about this as the fundamental step that will reinvent your life.  Jack Canfield.  Stephen R. Covey.  Brian Tracy.  All attest the same.

100% responsibility.

Think about it.  Aside from obvious things over which we have no control (planes crashing into our house, forms of disease, tornadoes, and such), we really have the marvelous opportunity and ability to craft a life.

To do this, you must become a good swimmer.  Why?  Because the current of our society flows against personal responsibility.  It has strong undertows of victimization, blame-shifting and an unrealistic sense of entitlement.  And it has kept leaders from emerging.  You must swim against it.  And you are well able to do it.

I heard Brian Tracy say today that assuming complete responsibility for our lives is the mark of adulthood.  It means being a grown-up.  As kids we long for that moment.  Now, we can maximize all the possibilities.

Here are some challenges for the next year:

  • Every day embrace the reality that you have the God-given ability to better your life and circumstances in some wayViktor Frankl learned this in Hitler’s death camps.  He realized that the Nazis had no power whatsoever over his thinking and inner life.  Unless he gave it to them.
  • Every day work to improve your skills of attention, concentration and laser-like focus for whatever task you happen to be doing.  Be all there.  Be fully in the moment.  If it isn’t worth doing with all your being, is it worth doing at all?
  • Write down your goals.  There’s something about putting pen to paper that sets a course in motion within you towards the fulfillment of those goals.  Your subconscious mind engineers reasons and plans for achieving what you’ve set as a target.  Dream it, write it and be very specific.  And then work your plan.

This is your time.  Hold nothing back.

Image Credit

Assuming Command

The opening chapter of Jack Canfield’s fantastic book, The Success Principles, has this challenging title: “Take 100% Responsibility For Your Life.”

The chapter is worth the price of the book.  Easy.  It is slowly but surely changing my life.  The concept will radically alter your destiny if you embrace it and practice it.    And great mentors talk about this as the fundamental step that will reinvent your life.  Jack Canfield.  Stephen R. Covey.  Brian Tracy.  All attest the same.

100% responsibility.

Think about it.  Aside from obvious things over which we have no control (planes crashing into our house, forms of disease, tornadoes, and such), we really have the marvelous opportunity and ability to craft a life.

To do this, you must become a good swimmer.  Why?  Because the current of our society flows against personal responsibility.  It has strong undertows of victimization, blame-shifting and an unrealistic sense of entitlement.  And it has kept leaders from emerging.  You must swim against it.  And you are well able to do it.

I heard Brian Tracy say today that assuming complete responsibility for our lives is the mark of adulthood.  It means being a grown-up.  As kids we long for that moment.  Now, we can maximize all the possibilities.

Here are some challenges for the next year:

  • Every day embrace the reality that you have the God-given ability to better your life and circumstances in some wayViktor Frankl learned this in Hitler’s death camps.  He realized that the Nazis had no power whatsoever over his thinking and inner life.  Unless he gave it to them.
  • Every day work to improve your skills of attention, concentration and laser-like focus for whatever task you happen to be doing.  Be all there.  Be fully in the moment.  If it isn’t worth doing with all your being, is it worth doing at all? I did this last night as I walked for two miles in the bone-chilling cold air of winter.  I embraced the frozen air and punishing wind.  And became stronger because of it.  I enjoyed it and improved my physical and mental life as a result.
  • Write down your goals.  There’s something about putting pen to paper that sets a course in motion within you towards the fulfillment of those goals.  Your subconscious mind engineers reasons and plans for achieving what you’ve set as a target.  Dream it, write it and be very specific.  And then work your plan.

2012 is going to be your year.  Hold nothing back.