Gefn and Herja were good friends. They were both woodcutters and were very good at their trade and well respected for their skill and strength. One day they decided to have a competition to find out who was better of the two. They would cut wood from sunrise to sundown and the one who chopped the most wood would win. They were both very competitive and both wanted to win.
On the appointed day Gefn and Herja went into the woods and started chopping. They could hear each other chopping but could not see each other. From time to time Gefn would hear that Herja had stopped chopping wood. He thought, “Herja is resting. This is the time for me to gain some lead.” He would furiously chop more wood during this time. This went on for the entire day. When the sun set both of them collected the wood they had chopped and piled it up side by side.
Gefn thought, “I am sure to win. My arms are sore. I have chopped throughout the day while Herja rested from time to time.” But Gefn was amazed when he saw Herja’s pile was bigger and was declared the winner. When Herja saw the puzzled look over Gefn’s face he went over to him and said, “You know the time you thought I was resting? I was actually sharpening my axe. That way I could chop more than you did!”
“Sharpen the saw” is one of the seven habits of highly successful people as per Stephen Covey. It shows that it is not just enough to work hard to be successful. It is important to keep our skills up to date and take the time to sharpen them.
“Give me six hours to chop a tree and I will use the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
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