Sharpen your axe

I was going through my notes from a seminar with Steve Schiffman called “Always be closing.” One thing Steve mentioned was “You must sharpen your axe!” which lead me to search for the story that goes with that phrase. I found two different ones.

John, a woodcutter, worked for a Company for five years but never got a raise. The Company hired Bill and within a year he got a promotion. This caused resentment in John and he went to his Boss to talk about it. The Boss said, “You are still cutting the same number of trees you were cutting five years ago. We are a result-oriented company and would be happy to give you a raise if your productivity goes up.”

John went back started hitting harder and putting in longer hours but he still wasn’t able to cut more trees. He went back to his Boss and told him his dilemma. The Boss asked John to go and talk to Bill. “Maybe there is something Bill knows that you and I don’t.”

John asked Bill how he managed to cut more trees. Bill answered, “After every tree I cut, I take a break for two minutes and ‘sharpen my axe’. When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” This question hit like a bullet and John got his answer.

Source: Sharpen your axe

Once upon a time a very strong woodcutter asked for a job with a timber merchant, and he got it. The salary was really good and so were the work conditions. For that reason, the woodcutter was determined to do his best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work.

The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees. “Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!”

Very motivated by the boss’ words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but could bring 15 trees only.

The third day he tried even harder, but could bring 10 trees only. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees.

“I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.

“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked.

“Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”

Source: The Axe Story

Moral of the story: Working hard is not enough. You must continuously sharpen your axe of knowledge, skill and expertise.

Zen Brush

I have bought Zen Brush and I really enjoy it.

Enjoy performing zen art on your iPad or iPhone.
Zen Brush is an app that allows you to easily enjoy the feeling of using an ink brush to write or to paint. It allows anyone to easily perform fluent strokes while not compromising on the fascinating texture of a real ink brush. Create works that radiate the right atmosphere by choosing the best background template from our large collection. You can even post your works easily on twitter.

So far what I do is more like doodle with a brush but it’s fascinating. It’s mindfulness, full focus on what you are doing, and work as a tool for meditation too. Since it’s digital it’s easy to erase and start over again. I practice with my non-dominant hand too, it’s good to use both hands.

How To Get What You Want – part 1

I am evaluating 2010 and preparing for 2011. As part of the process I have picked My 3 Words for 2011 and I’m Reinventing My Business.

This blog post is about how I work on creating a foundation for the year(s) to come.

The Law of Attraction

In A Scary Admission Chris Brogan admits that he believes in the Law of Attraction.

I believe in the teachings inside The Secret. The Secret is a book that talks about The Law of Attraction. There are several books that talk about this, and The Secret isn’t even the best of them.

The premise is that if you visualize and believe with all your heart that you’ll find what you seek, then it’ll manifest.

The key is to remember that Attraction = Attract + Action. It’s not enough to attract something, it takes action to get it. Nothing will manifest out of thin air.

Visualization of what you want to achieve is used in other concepts too, like mental training.

The Secret

The Secret is a catchier name than The Known. In my opinion there’s nothing secret in The Secret, it’s a new cover on what has been said before. They have done clever marketing though.

Think and Grow Rich

I’m currently reading “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. The book is available in print or as free ebook, I have an ebook. As the title indicates, it’s focus is on money. It lists these six steps:

First: fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire. It is not sufficient merely to say “I want plenty of money.” Be definite as to the amount.

Second: determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire. (There is no such reality as “something for nothing.”)

Third: establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire.

Fourth: create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at ONCE, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.

Fifth: write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for it acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.

Sixth: read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning. As you read — see and feel and believe yourself already in possession of the money.

Napoleon Hill talks about the importance of a burning desire. It’s not enough to wish or want, it has to be a burning desire. You need to be determined to get it, stand by it and know what you really want to achieve.

As you see in step 2 above he stresses that there’s no such reality as “something for nothing”.

My view

I believe that it’s a two-phase process: Attraction = Attract + Action. The process works whether it’s money we’re aiming for or something else.

Attract requires us to be clear and specific about what we want to achieve. That’s what this blog post is about.

Then it takes action, I’ll do another blog post about that.

Decide what you want

Napoleon Hill writes that “All achievements have their beginning in an idea”, I prefer to talk about a vision. It shall be something that you really desire and believe with all your heart that you’ll achieve. List what you want to achieve but be specific otherwise you can’t know when you have achieved it.

Paint an entire picture, personal and professional, since different areas of life interact with each other. It can be different levels of details but ignoring the personal side and only have a business vision is not a good idea. The other way around is not good either.

Examples of what can be included in a vision:
• I want to be my own boss.
• I want to work half time and do volunteer work in my spare time.
• I want to have X dollars in my savings account because that means financial security.
• I want to live and work in the Bahamas.
• I want to make the world a better place by doing….

Create ONE vision that covers what you want to achieve. Fill it with emotions, how will you feel when you achieved it.

If you don’t know what you want, you end up with a lot you don’t. – Chuck Palahniuk

Verify it

Consider this:
• Your vision shall be your beacon, something that keeps you heading in the right direction.
• Your vision shall be able to motivate you when the going gets tough.
• It shall be YOUR vision, not something you do to please others.
• It shall be a burning desire.

If your vision does not pass the test above then you picked the wrong vision. Return to the previous step and find your true vision.

Convert your vision to money

How much money does it take to achieve your vision?

How much do you need to make your vision come through?

Your vision might be to become your own boss instead of being employed, there’s still money that needs to be earned.

Your vision might be to be place independent (work from anywhere), there’s still money that needs to be earned.

Even a spiritual quest requires money to make it possible. There’s no “something for nothing” which means that somehow we need to pay for what we want to achieve.

When shall it be finished?

Set an end date – when shall you have achieved your vision?

Hint, if it’s more than a year away then you shall probably reconsider and rephrase your vision. A beacon that’s too far away makes for lousy navigation.

What will you do to achieve your vision?

You now have your vision, an end-date and a required amount, what will you give in return to achieve what you desire?

Define exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire. Plan it, at least roughly, so you know how to do it.

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. – Tony Robbins

Make your vision memorable

If you’re visual then create a vision board. That makes it easier to picture how you will feel when it’s all done.

Create a statement (agreement with yourself) that describes your vision. It shall include the end-date, when it shall be finished, and what you will do to achieve your vision. Remember to attach feelings, how will you feel when you have achieved your vision.

Keep your vision within sight

Print out your statement. Place it where you see it often and easy. Read your vision daily so you keep it alive and fresh.

One more thing – enjoy the ride! The journey towards your vision has to be worthwhile too.

What about me?

When evaluating 2010 I realized that my original vision had split into two visions, one personal and one for my business. When those visions were aligned it was no problem but when they differed the one closest to my heart did win. Most of my personal vision, along the path to discover your Self, has been accomplished. When it comes to my business vision it did not turn out as I had intended.

Lesson learned – create ONE vision and stick to it. If in doubt along the way, go back to the verify step and see if you vision still is the right one.

What about you?

How do you work to vision what you want to achieve?

My 3 Words for 2011

About two years ago I posted Goals, guidelines and keywords with my three words for 2009: Trust, Connect and Grow.

About a year ago I posted Ready for 2010 where I listed my three words: Trust, Connect and Grow. I kept the words I had selected for 2009, they were still important to me.

In March 2010 I posted Three Words Become Five. I added Rhythm and Nourish to Trust, Connect and Grow.

My 3 words for 2011

I go back to three words instead of five, I extend what some of my three words stand for. In no specific order they are:

Trust means to trust my inner voice, to build trust and to be trustworthy.

Connect goes outwards (connect to more people in real life and virtually, be visible and valuable) as well as inwards (connect to my inner self). I include creating relationships and to collaborate, together we can achieve more.

Grow covers to grow my business and to grow as person. It includes to learn and share. I am a life long learner, sharing knowledge and ideas is fun. I also include nourish, without that nothing will grow.

My words work well as corners in a triangle, they complete each other and none is more important than the other. My words will guide my actions during the year, it’s easy to check back to them and see if I’m aligned with them or not.

Three Words Elsewhere

Chris Brogan posted My 3 Words for 2011 where he also lists words other have sent him. Mich Sineath created a wordle based on that post, it’s interesting to see which words that stand out.

Additional reading

The last part of Happy Holidays 2009 talks about why new year’s resolutions can be dangerous.

Brené Brown – The Price of Invulnerability

My previous post, Brené Brown on Connection, made me look around for more videos at You Tube and I found Brené Brown – The Price of Invulnerability. That’s another great presentation by Brené Brown.

TEDxKC talk synopsis: In our anxious world, we often protect ourselves by closing off parts of our lives that leave us feeling most vulnerable. Yet invulnerability has a price. When we knowingly or unknowingly numb ourselves to what we sense threatens us, we sacrifice an essential tool for navigating uncertain times — joy. This talk will explore how and why fear and collective scarcity has profoundly dangerous consequences on how we live, love, parent, work and engage in relationships — and how simple acts can restore our sense of purpose and meaning.

The video

Brené Brown on Connection

Sarah Robinson has a post about More On Living a Connected Life at Escaping Mediocrity. It’s a terrific video with Brene Brown from TEDx Houston. I had problems viewing the video at Sarah’s site so I located the video on You Tube, TEDxHouston – Brené Brown. The video is 20 minutes long (or short rather, I wish Brené had talked longer). Sarah writes:

This 20 minute video from Dr. Brene Brown is a MUST WATCH. Unless you have no interest in living a connected life.

I watched it once. Then watched it again with pen and paper. Trust me, you are going to want to make notes. And please don’t “save this for later”. Later never comes.

The book

Brené Brown has published “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” and I have ordered it. That’s how interesting I found her presentation.
Amazon: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
The Book Depository: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You are

Creating a connected life

Sarah writes about the 12 elements of a connected life and it’s a great list.

TEDxHouston – Brené Brown

Abraham Maslow Quotes

I was reminded about the hammer-nail quote yesterday, found that one plus some more.

If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.

What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization.

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.

If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life.

The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.

Classic economic theory, based as it is on an inadequate theory of human motivation, could be revolutionized by accepting the reality of higher human needs, including the impulse to self actualization and the love for the highest values.

The fact is that people are good, Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behavior.

The Shadow Effect

During the weekend I have read The Shadow Effect – Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford and Marianne Williamson. It’s a very interesting book and I recommend it.

The shadow exists within all of us. It is a part of us and yet we spend most of our life running from it. But far from being scary, our dark side holds the promise of a better, more fulfilling life. Our shadow makes itself known every day. It is the reason we get furious over a friend showing up ten minutes late, yell at our parents or kids when they have done nothing wrong, and sabotage our own success at the worst possible time. Until we are able to embrace our dualistic nature, we will continue to hurt ourselves and those closest to us and fall short of our potential.

Combining the wisdom of three experts, The Shadow Effect is a practical and profound guide to discovering the gifts of our shadow.

I saw the book at The Power of Slow, ordered it and then read it as soon as I got it.

The Shadow Effect has an official site. I like the text on the front page, it hits home with me:

Make peace with yourself, others and the world.

Find the courage to let go of all that holds you back.

Reconnect with the life you were meant to live and the person you were meant to be.

The book made me realize that I do kick myself too much. Instead I should focus more on the good things in life, self-love and self-respect is key to progress.

Marianne Williamson is the author of Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate which goes well with this book.

This quote by Mary Anne Radmacher will help me stay in (or bounce back into) the light:

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

The only thing you can change

mnmlist has a post about the only thing you can change, a great reminder that even a long journey begins with a small step. Here is what resonates most with me right now:

You can’t change your entire life. You can only change your next action.

You can’t declutter your entire life. You can only choose to get rid of one thing, right now.

You can’t change the past, or control the future. You can only change what you’re doing right now.

You can’t change everything. You can only change one, small thing. And that’s all it takes.

I’m currently decluttering big style, I am leaving an office and storage where I’ve been for 12,5 years. By end of April I’m out of there and have a lot less stuff to care for.

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