Sharpen your Ax



From time to time you should find a spot in your busy schedule to sharpen your ax.


Everybody knows that Abraham Lincoln is one of the most important presidents in American history. He was well known for his energy and productivity. He used to say: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” 


We don’t know for sure, but this great man, who was a skilled woodcutter before becoming president, probably meant this both literally and figuratively. He knew that inefficient tools are a waste of energy, so it is better taking your time finding and cultivating the best tools for any task.

Sharpening your ax can include simple things like being up-to-date with the news, read a best seller, making time to have fun.  But is also a time to reflect on whether you are growing yourself with new skills and learning something new.

Here are some ideas to sharpen your ax, or boost your leadership effectiveness in order to improve organizational results.

Ask for systematic and regular feedback, because people will judge you not for your intentions, but for your actions and results.

Let people appreciate your strengths, like being respectful, having good communication skills, creating lasting relationships, being a team player.


Create a personal development plan that works, making sure you are going to put into use your leadership, your passion and organizational needs.


Develop your coaching skills, which is being engaged in problem solving, establishing an action plan and follow it through.


Sharpening your tools will get the job done more efficiently. Don’t get so busy that you don’t take time to sharpen your ax. Take your time to appreciate the tale of the woodcutter that we transcribed for you below:

The Woodcutter

Once upon a time there was a very strong woodcutter. He asked for a job from a timber merchant and he got it. The pay was very good and so were the work conditions and for that reason the woodcutter was determined to do his very best. His boss gave him an ax and showed him the area in the forest where he was to work.

The first day the woodcutter cut down 18 trees. His boss was extremely impressed and said, “Well done. Keep it up. You are our best woodcutter yet.” Motivated by his boss’s words, the woodcutter tried even harder the next day, but he only cut down 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but only cut down 10 trees.

Day after day the woodcutter cut down fewer and fewer trees. His boss came to him and told him that if he did not chop down more trees each day he would lose his job. The woodcutter needed the job, so he tried harder and harder. He worked during his lunch breaks and tea breaks, but still he could not cut down enough trees. “I must be losing my strength” the woodcutter thought to himself. He worked over-time, but still it was not enough.

Eventually his boss came to him and told him he was fired. The woodcutter was really upset, but he knew that he had worked as hard as he could and just did not have enough time to chop more trees. He sadly handed his ax back.

The boss took one look at the ax and asked, “When was the last time you sharpened your ax?

“Sharpen my ax?” the woodcutter replied. “I have never sharpened my ax. I have been too busy trying to cut down enough trees.”

By sharpening your ax you are applying a very import concept related to productivity: don’t just work hard, but work smart as well. You will see and feel the difference. Think about that. And act on that too!


This article is for general, indicative purpose only and should not be considered investment advice. Florida Connexion is not liable for any financial loss, damage, expense or costs arising from your investment decisions based on this article.


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