Sunday, November 19, 2006


"Those who live by sword die by sword."

Let' say you are someone who make a living by sword. I mean use sword (or axe or whatever) to cut trees to make lumber. If we have to modify the above quote for someone like wood cutter it may look like - "Those who live by sword must take time to sharpen the blade from time to time."

I think the concept of sharpening the saw is one of the corner stones of Stephen Covey's books. I think it is a very important concept. By taking time to sharpen the saw, we can cut more trees in less time. But, many people who get sucked into today's rat race totally forget about sharpening the saw, work like crazy with a saw that is losing its sharpness everyday and one fine day the blade is damaged beyond repair meaning they burn out and quit for good.

Little better are those who get the concept of sharpening but sharpen the blade in a totally wrong way or worse sharpen the wrong side of the saw. Examples - super busy technical professionals who ignore the fact that sharpening saw means keeping up-to-date with developments in their field. They waste small amount of time they have on things like learning belly dancing or basket weaving. Not to mean that no one should pursue those hobbies but only after you have sharpened your professional saw. Example of people sharpening the wrong side saw include those who focus on personality development when they need professional development. You can come up with many examples.

What we get in school, college, university is instruction. What formal education teaches, at best, is how to learn new things effectively. If it has done its job, it has taught you the basics of learning new things. If it has imparted that knowledge to you and you have learnt the art of learning effectively and have developed an insatiable urge to keep bettering your knowledge, then your formal education is worth it. Now, it is time to build on it.

Once we realize this and register it well in our minds, means and ways to sharpen the saw start appearing naturally. Take courses, attend seminars, get certifications, get back to school, write articles, speak in professional forums. Choices are innumerable. Possibilities range from free to ivy league education. Choice is yours. Just make sure that you understand that sharpening the saw is an ongoing activity and not something that you spend 6 months once in 10 years.

Easiest thing to start is the advice I got from my mentor long time back. That is to read, at least, one book per month. If you do it on daily basis, it takes no more than 30 mins even for big book. But, unless you commit to it, it just becomes so hard. The few hours left are spent watching TV or browsing net or some other meaningless activity and no time left for reading. Reading before bed time is also a great idea but I personally discourage that unless you are reading something that is spiritual. Professional reading is better carried out separately. The ideas, you go to sleep with, reverberate all thru your sleep. If that is the case, I would rather have ideas from Bhagvadgita or the discourse of Sri Ramkrishna reverberate than new ideas of project management or some new stuff such as "ruby on rails" (like the name). But, going to sleep reading is one of the best ways ease into sound sleep.

So, take good care of yourself and invest in yourself. Once you do that then you can spend all your time using the saw to your heart's content or helping others with their saws. Whatever you like. Never ever get into a situation when your saw is on the brink of failure. God forbid that happen before you end your journey here and consequences can be very dire.


Ads by
Powered by Qumana

No comments: