“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
This past few weeks I’ve put in lots of time clearing some trees from around my house. Since my chainsaw has been on the fritz and I didn’t want to wait for bad weather to return, I decided to go “old school” and take them out with an axe.
Knowing that famous quote attributed to Honest Abe made me do the painstaking work of sharpening the axe I used. After finishing, I probably could have shaved with it. It was helpful though because I made quick work of the trees. Digging out the stumps was a whole other story.
Most of us spend a good part of our day solving problems. It’s what we’re hired to do. The question is, how much time are you putting into thinking before you jump in to solve? We’ve been taught to heed the call to “don’t just stand there, DO SOMETHING!”
So why do we do it? There are several reasons:
- If we don’t act with urgency, people will think we’re not taking the problem seriously.
- If we don’t dive in, our boss will think we’re incompetent.
- There is reward in wearing yourself out for the cause.
- If we don’t do it, nobody else will.
- If we don’t do it, somebody else will and steal the credit.
All of these will result in a poor, knee-jerk solution that will simply kick the problem down the road. Maybe we’d be wiser to take the time to think and prepare before just diving in.
Sharpening the axe does two things:
- Gives us time to think.
- Makes the tool more efficient.
If the principle works so well for cutting trees, why wouldn’t it do just as well (figuratively) for your everyday challenges?
This week, as you are presented with problems, why not…
DON’T just do something, STAND there!
I’ll bet the results will be a whole lot better.