The Sunday Mail
HERE is trusting that you had joyous and refreshing Christmas and New Year holidays.
As the new year begins, it is that time when everybody celebrates the start of a new season.
The old cliché goes: “New Year, new beginnings” but the million-dollar question is; does it necessarily apply that the switching of the year from one year into another brings an automatic change to everything?
This time of the year is characterised by many celebrations and rejoicing over the privilege of a new year. In all this, let the beginning of this year be an opportunity to evaluate, retreat, breathe a little, reflect, retool and get better positioned for 2022.
I am reminded of an old folktale. Once upon a time, there were two wood cutters named Farai and Farisai. These two were often in competition as to who chopped more wood than the other. So one fine day, they decided to hold a competition to determine who was the best at the trade.
They were both determined to have their “beef” settled once and for all. The rules of the competition were clearly laid out and very simple: the one who produces more wood in a day would be crowned Boss of the Trade. So early in the morning it was “show time”. Farai and Farisai were positioned on different sides of the forest and it was all about chopping wood, as fast as possible.
For the first hour, the chopping continued unabated before Farisai suddenly stopped. When Farai realised that the sound of chopping had stopped on the other side of the forest, he simply smiled and said to himself, “Ah aha! I knew it. This is going to be a piece of cake, Farisai is tired already and yet the game is just starting”, he giggled in despise of his rival and continued to cut down the trees even with more energy.
About a quarter of an hour passed and Farai heard the sound of Farisai starting to chop wood again. He just wiped off some sweat from his face, convinced that he was ahead of the game. He continued chopping, applying all the skills he knows from the book. So they both continued chopping wood.
Although Farai started to feel weary, he kept at it. But on the other side of the forest, Farisai stopped once again. At this point, Farai was even more convinced that he had taken a commanding lead. He confidently continued to chop the wood, even whistling with joy, with the conviction that victory was certain. He even expected Farisai to come to him, throw in the towel and beg for mercy.
This went on repeatedly throughout the day. After about an hour Farisai would stop chopping for some good 15 to 20 minutes while Farai kept on chopping without stopping. The only time Farai would stop for less than five minutes was to wipe off some sweat from his body and press on towards the goal.
However, when the time of reckoning came, there was a surprise to Farai. Farisai had actually cut down a whole lot more wood than he had. “How could this be? How could you have chopped down more trees than me? I heard you stop working every hour for 15 minutes!” exclaimed Farai.
Farisai responded, “Well, it’s really simple. Each time I stopped work, while you were still chopping down trees, I was sharpening my axe.”
Moral of the story
Most of us, wherever we may be, seem to be so busy. We get extraordinarily busy at whatever we have to do. We have come to want it so badly that we take no time to reflect. It is imperative to analyse, scrutinise, learn from the past and improve. In short, STOP to sharpen the “axe”.
This applies to us at different levels; be it national, community, corporate, institutional, family and individual. Everyone is a leader in their own right in one way or the other and it is important for each one of us to observe a moment of axe sharpening in order to maintain or increase productivity.
How exactly do you sharpen the axe?
We often overwork ourselves in the light of tasks that require our attention and puzzles we have to solve. These sometimes void us of all the energy, passion, vigour, verve and flexibility, leaving us too exhausted to do much.
At that level the more we try, the lesser the efficiency. The only remedy is to pause a little and take a little retreat in order to re-strategise and re-energise.
Rest and relaxing alone will not do the trick; the axe will still be blunt even after the rest. Though it is of paramount importance that the wood cutter takes some time out, rest alone amounts to simply putting the axe down, without sharpening it. Only when the “blade” is sharpened do we start to see more productivity.
So sharpening the blade refers to learning new techniques as well as investing in new skills and strategies. This will ensure that you have more strength and stamina to better execute the tasks ahead. You cannot demand much from a blunt axe.
Here are some steps that can help us to sharpen our “axes” (this list is not comprehensive you can always add to it)
Have time for a personal retreat to reflect on the just-ended year.
Look back, appreciate the good things in your life and be grateful. Reflect on areas others helped you with and do away with arrogance and a sense of entitlement. Humility is a virtue.
Appraise yourself honestly against all you were supposed to do and achieve throughout the year. Draw lessons from where you failed. Change where necessary. Put in place systems that will help you not to repeat what made you fail.
Review your spiritual development and growth: Have you grown and developed your spiritual muscle?
Examine your mental transformation, development and maturity and ask yourself if have you developed your mindset and mental fortitude.
Take an assessment of your physical health-eating healthy, sleeping well and exercising.
Assess your financial progress, looking at how careful and profitable you were in your financial decisions.
Ask yourself: How well have you developed your social networks and how much did you participate in building your community?
Look at your relationships-how meaningful and profitable were they?
Finally, plan for 2022; even if you fail at least you will have some goals to help you review come end of this year. Plan, Plan, Plan!!!
Be reminded that every day is a brand new opportunity to recharge, renew, and refine yourself.
Set aside some moments into sharpening your axe instead of just chopping the wood continuously yet unproductively: start working smarter instead of longer.
Remember change doesn’t just happen: A famous saying goes: “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”
A fruitful and prosperous 2022 to us all!!!
Anouya Muringayi is an entrepreneur, business consultant, life coach, author and Transformational Speaker. He can be contacted on email: [email protected]