The final blog post in the series of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

If you ask yourself how to build the character to implement all of the previously described 7 habits, this is the blog to read! Sharpening the saw is the habit that makes all other habits possible.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe – Abraham Lincoln

Many of us get frustrated by life. This is illustrated by the following story

You are walking in the woods, and you come upon someone working on sawing down a tree. ‘What are you doing’, you ask. ‘Can’t you see’, he replies, ‘I am sawing down this tree’. ‘You look exhausted’, you reply, ‘how long have you been working at it’? The man says: ‘Over 5 hours, and I am very tired, it is hard work’. ‘Well’, you respond, ‘why don’t you take a rest and sharpen that saw? I am sure it would go a lot faster.’ ‘I don’t have time to sharpen the saw’, the man says, ‘I am too busy sawing…’.

Invest in yourself

We often keep struggling with that blunt saw, instead of developing ourselves.

Take the time to become more effective. This basically means to renew yourself in 4 dimensions:

  1. Physical

Care for your body. Eat the right kind of food, get sufficient sleep and relaxation, and exercise on a regular basis.

Build habits, be proactive (habit 1).

  1. Spiritual

Provide leadership to your life. Daily meditation, spend time in nature, write your mission statement, and live your day in harmony with your values.

Find your inner peace (habit 2).

  1. Mental

Educate yourself. Read or listen to great minds and leaders, find connection to your purpose and values.

Organise and plan, do first things first (habit 3).

  1. Social/Emotional

Serve others. Focus on empathic communication, and creative cooperation.

Use habits 4 (Win/win)5 (Understand before being understood), and 6 (Synergize) to build on principles of interpersonal leadership.


How to sharpen that saw

Work on developing yourself in these dimensions for at least 1 h per day, every day. Set time and define quadrant II activities to integrate this as a habit into your life.

Reap what you saw

Build your personal strength. This is key to the development of the 7 Habits!


“ We will always reap what we sow”


If you want to learn more buy the book or read my blogs on each of the Habits:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. First things first
  4. Win/win
  5. Understand before being understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw