Sharpening the Saw

If you’ve ever read the fantastic book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey then this phrase will be familiar to you.  If you haven’t read the book…go and read this book, even if you only take a single point from it, it’ll improve your life.

Anyway, one point that Mr. Covey makes is about preserving and enhancing the greatest asset that you have…you! And he refers to this as ‘Sharpening the Saw’, as illustrated by this story…


‘A man who was walking through a forest when he came across a frustrated lumberjack.

The lumberjack was trying to cut down a tree with and was swearing and cursing as he laboured in vain.

“What’s the problem?”  The man asked.

“My saw’s blunt and won’t cut the tree properly.”  The lumberjack responded.

“Why don’t you just sharpen it?”

“Because then I would have to stop sawing.”  Said the lumberjack.

“But if you sharpened your saw, you could cut more efficiently and effectively than before.”

“But I don’t have time to stop!” The lumberjack retorted, getting more frustrated.

The man shook his head and kept on walking, leaving the lumberjack to his pointless frustration.


Sharpening the saw is about making time to maintain have a balanced program of self renewal in the 4 main areas of your life; Physical, Social/Emotional, Mental and Spiritual.

Mr Covey goes more into detail about why and how to do this but seen as you have already read, or are going to read the book anyway, I won’t tread that ground unnecessarily.  Suffice to say, investing time in yourself, all elements of yourself (as listed above), will inevitably result in better results in all areas of your life.

With my students I obviously focus mostly on the physical aspect with them, but often this can only truly flourish if at least the minimums are being met in the other 3 areas.

Have a think about when the last time was that you exercised, took time to learn a new skill (or improve an old one), invested in meaningful relationships with others or spent some quiet time in nature or in prayer.


Being self-employed and running CFS I know that it’s easy to always try and do more and more but last weekend I took time away from the studio and assisted with the StrongFirst Level 1 Kettlebell certification (SFG 1). Its a great privilege and honour to be asked to assist at this event but it also represents an opportunity for me to invest in myself in the mental and social aspects of my life.  Sharpening my saw through learning, coaching, reading and socialising with some fantastic, like minded individuals who I care about.


To use one more phrase from the great Mr. Covey.

“Don’t get caught up in the thick of thin things!”


If you would like some guidance on how best to ‘Sharpen the saw’, especially when it comes to the physical aspect of maintaining and improving yourself, drop me a line.



Me with Master SFG Jason Marshall and my fellow SFG Assistants Colin & David

Me with Master SFG Jason Marshall and my fellow SFG Assistants Colin & David