A powerful habit of highly productive people

 In Mindset

As you may know Stephen Covey passed on this year. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (The Business Library 1990) made a big impact on me when it was first released. Particularly at this time the Seventh Habit in the book – Sharpen the Saw – is relevant in my business. It might be relevant in your business/work too.

Here is a quotation from the book at the start of the Sharpen the Saw chapter on page 287 of the book.

“Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree.

“What are you doing?” you ask.

“Can’t you see?” comes the impatient replay. “I’m sawing down this tree.”

“You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?”

“Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat! This is hard work.”

“Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?” you inquire. “ I’m sure it would go a lot faster.”

“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “ I’m too busy sawing!”

Why this habit is relevant at this time, is that from late December to the end of January every year (excluding public holidays and leave time) I now focus in my business on the Sharpening the Saw habit.

Let me explain:

During the December – January time frame I alter the normal schedule in my business and instead focus on reviewing all the files, systems, processes etc. in the business. For example, I’ll go through all my files and cull information, re-read information, add to/refine information.

I realized after conducting this process for the first time last December that there were information gems lurking in the files. I used that information and the process to deliver more worth and ‘sharpen’ my offerings to my customers in 2012.

‘Sharpening the saw’ in your work or business might also reveal gems that could increase the worth of the products and services you deliver to your customers.

The ‘how to apply‘ for this post: Set aside ‘Sharpen the saw’ time in the next four to five weeks. Then reflect on the impact of doing so.

p.s. weekly blog posts will resume in February. Nothing but the best for an abundant 2013.


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  • John Groarke

    Thanks Michael & compliments of the season to you.

    I call this period, the ‘reflective period’, and I spend time on my business, as you have clearly illustrated.

    But I also know that some of my prospects (ie where the conversation has started) and some of my targets (ie where I would love to start a conversation) are also reflecting on their businesses too. So I send out a suitably worded communication between Christmas and New Year, and it’s amazing how many relaxed meetings I get in January through to early February.

    Cheers – John

    • michael

      Thanks for that John. On reflection I do realise that my senior clients/prospect appear to have freer time to meet over this period.

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