Sharpen Your Axe

Sharpen Your Axe

In the United States, there’s a historical quote attributed to President Abraham Lincoln that says:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

The quote refers to the important role of proper preparation for any endeavor.

I was thinking about this quote a few months ago when I was trying to complete a task with skills and methods I learned more than 10 years ago. Working on the task was tedious and unsuccessful.

I was trying to use a blunt instrument with no leverage. I ended up feeling defeated and weary.

The same principle applies to all endeavors of life… including your career.

While you may not be chopping down a tree in your career, you will be trying to slice through the problems and obstacles impeding your career.

Whether or not you’ll succeed depends largely on the sharpness of your career-related skills.

My dear reader, believe it or not – High achievers have a high skill level. Low achievers have a low skill level.

No matter what happens in your career, it’s difficult to escape this law of career “physics.”

To apply this law of success to your life, simply answer these two questions:

1) Do you want to be a high achiever?

2) What are you doing to improve your career skills?

I would guess your answer to the first question is “yes.”

I’d also guess the honest answer to the second questions is “not enough.”

(I know that has always been my answer and continues to be my answer.)

You can improve your career skills in one of two ways.

1) Obtaining Direct Experience

Go do interesting and challenging career-related projects. I highly recommend this.

The only downside is that it takes time and if you’re anything like me, you’re eager to achieve more faster.

This leads me to the other way to improve career skills quickly.

2) Leveraging Other People’s Experience

Learning from a mentor is a way to sharpen your career skills and do so much faster than via direct experience.

I take continuous development seriously – because I tend to become luckier, I seem to be prepared when greater opportunities show up because I inadvertently prepared myself for them.

You should seek to continuously grow your skills and capacity too.

To your success!