Kind of a funny question to ask huh? But you’ll understand what I mean once you read the story of The Two Lumberjacks…
The Two Lumberjacks
It was the annual lumberjack competition and the final was between an older, experienced lumberjack and a younger, stronger lumberjack. The rule of the competition was quite simply who could fell the most trees in a day was the winner.
The younger lumberjack was full of enthusiasm and went off into the woods and set to work straight away. He worked all through the day and all through the night. As he worked, he could hear the older lumberjack working in another part of the forest and he felt more and more confident with every tree he felled that he would win.
At regular intervals throughout the day, the noise of trees being felled coming from the other part of the forest would stop. The younger lumberjack took heart from this, knowing that this meant the older lumberjack was taking a rest, whereas he could use his superior youth and strength and stamina to keep going.
At the end of the competition, the younger lumberjack felt confident he had won. He looked in front of him at the piles of felled trees that were the result of his superhuman effort.
At the medal ceremony, he stood on the podium confident and expecting to be awarded the prize of champion lumberjack. Next to him stood the older lumberjack who looked surprisingly less exhausted than he felt.
When the results were read out, he was devastated to hear that the older lumberjack had chopped down significantly more trees than he had. He turned to the older lumber jack and said: “How can this be? I heard you take a rest every hour and I worked continuously through the night. What’s more, I am stronger and fitter than you old man”.
The older lumberjack turned to him and said: “Every hour, I took a break to rest and sharpen my saw”.
I was the young lumberjack…
I was the young lumberjack for too many years. I would say for the first 42 years of my life. For as many years up to 42 that I could remember, I worked harder and not smarter. I prided myself on being a hard worker and it made me pretty “successful” in life, but it came at a cost. Whenever I made more money, I would buy more things. As I continued to buy more things, I needed to make more money to afford them. “No problem,” I thought. “I’ll simply work more hours.” That wasn’t very smart of me, and though I made more money, I lost more time with family and put myself through a lot of headaches.
This whole post comes down to working smarter, not harder. Sure there are times where you have to just git-r-done and put the pedal to the medal…working as hard as you can. But other times, it’s better to step back and think first. Too many years I worked harder, putting the hours in, rather than stepping back and being smarter about the work I was putting into those hours. If I could go back in time, I would work harder on me than I did on my job. I would sharpen my saw, gaining knowledge and experience through working hard on the right things.
I think Abraham Lincoln said it best…
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Which lumberjack are you? Are you constantly working hard, or are you taking some time to sharpen the saw?