sharpening the ax

PaulBunyan-mI have a knife that has ridden in my pocket for a number of years.

It’s been sharpened so often that the blade is getting kind of thin.  The main blade is pretty sharp….but a lot of the metal is gone now…sharpened away.  It’s still good…but it’s not as substantial as it once was.

I was thinking about a quote that Abraham Lincoln is given credit for.  When I’m driving the mail, I have some time to think in between boxes.

The quote was:

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax

What a great quote…and what a great life lesson.

Get your “ducks in a row” before you start something. Make sure that you and your tools are ready so that you can do the job efficiently.

Good advice.

But what if we tweaked that quote a little to say,

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first six sharpening the ax

What if preparation becomes the most formidable weapon in your arsenal?

What if your blade is getting thin because you keep sharpening it in expectation of the cut that never comes?

I have a lot of books about how to do things.  I’ve read a good number of them…the others lay in wait for the right moment to seek out their wisdom.

I’m not really any farther along in my understanding of how to do things, though…even after all my book buying and reading.

Most of the things that I’ve learned, I’ve figured out because I look at the end results of my earlier efforts and say, “Oh….that’s how you’re not supposed to do it?  Oh….”.

The only lessons that stick for me are the ones that are learned through experience….and a lot of those lessons are forgotten,  and have to be repeated at least a couple of times.

For me, the quote might be more appropriate if it said something like this:

If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first hour wailing on it with my dull ax, the second hour looking for my file, the third hour sharpening my ax, the fourth hour wailing on the tree again.  I would spend the fifth hour going to buy gas for the chainsaw…and then spend my sixth and final hour cutting down the tree.

It is not as elegant a solution as Abraham Lincoln’s.

I guess that in the six hour time frame, it accomplishes the objective.  Just not as calmly as “sharpening the ax” and cutting down the tree when the tool is ready to do the job.

It’s a lot more frantic and willy nilly.

I try to prepare as “best I can”.

But sometimes you just have to take some leaps with a dull ax in tow…make a move before you’re ready… just to see what might happen.

If you never drive the car because you’re afraid you might get a flat tire, you don’t get very far down the road.

In my head, I have an expectation of big adventures.  I believe in a world that has a lot to show us.

Maybe it’s time to stop “sharpening my ax” and start chopping.









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