Sharpen Your Axe


There’s a well-known story told about two woodcutters named Leroy and Pete. Both of them were from the same town. However, they were often at loggerheads over who chopped more wood. So one bright fresh morning, they decide to hold a wood cutting competition to determine a winner. The rules of the competition were quite simple – whoever produces the most wood in a day wins.

The two men headed towards the local forest where they took their positions and began chopping away at warp speed. The sound of axes hitting wood echoed throughout the forest, as both men matched each other stroke for stroke. An hour in no sound could be heard coming from Leroy. Pete observing this assumed that Leroy must be having a break and pressed on assuming that he now held the advantage. 

It was a full fifteen minutes before Pete heard any sound coming from Leroy’s direction and it wasn’t long before both men could be heard cutting word in sync. Pete was starting to feel weary when the chopping from Leroy stopped once again. Feeling motivated and smelling victory close by, Pete continued on, with a smile on his face and a renewed spring in his stride.

 This went on for the whole day. Every hour, Leroy would stop chopping for fifteen minutes while Pete kept going relentlessly. So when the competition ended, Pete was absolutely confident that he cut the most wood and won the competition. But to his surprise, Leroy had actually cut down more wood.

“How is this even possible? How could you have chopped down more trees than me? I heard you stop working every hour for fifteen minutes!”, exclaimed Pete. Leroy replied, “Well, it’s really simple. Every time I stopped work, while you were still chopping down trees, I was sharpening my axe. This enabled me to do much more while expending far less energy.”

With increased pressure in the workplace and life, many will find themselves putting in the hours with diminishing returns. The secret is to sharpen your axe. Finding the right balance between your physical, social, mental and spiritual life.   

  • Physical: Eating well, sleeping well and exercising well.
  • Social/Emotional: Having a good social life. Building meaningful connections with others.
  • Mental: Learning something new, reading (books are your mentors), and writing.
  • Spiritual: Expanding spiritual self through meditation, spending time relaxing in nature.

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

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