Sharpening the Saw





  1. the quality or fact of being very determined; determination.
  2. the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; grip.
  3. the quality or fact of continuing to exist; persistence.

synonyms: persistence, determination, perseverance, doggedness, tirelessness, resolution,

resoluteness, resolve, firmness, patience, purposefulness

Tenacity – that quality of being able to tirelessly pursue a goal is a cornerstone characteristic of the entrepreneur. It is the fuel that drives us to spend long days and nights in pursuit of our goals. A sure sign of success is the ability to envision a goal and doggedly pursue that vision to make it happen. We all remember the little engine that could. “I think I can… I think I can ..” The engine achieved his goal with incremental yet unwavering pursuit. Tenacity! Yet, that unwavering spirit can sometimes get in the way of success. Consider this lumberjack story.

Stephen Covey tells the story of a man who was walking through a forest when he came across a frustrated lumberjack. The lumberjack was trying to cut down a tree and was swearing and cursing as he labored in vain. The man stopped to ask, “What’s the problem?” The lumberjack responded that his saw was blunt and wouldn’t cut the tree properly. When the man inquired why didn’t he didn’t stop to sharpen it so that he could be more efficient and effective, the lumberjack responded: “Because then I would have to stop sawing and I don’t have time to stop!”

While the frustrated lumberjack was obviously short-sighted, how often do we find ourselves echoing the same sentiment, “I don’t have time to stop!” It is this busy-ness that can prevent us from being our best. We must take time to sharpen the saw. The toy industry is a dynamic environment that is in a state of constant change. It seems like we just figured out how to promote business on Facebook and now customers are Snapchatting. Like a quarterback that is constantly assessing the field before a pass, we must take some time to stop and assess. Below are three ways you can stop and sharpen the saw.

Educate – First, sharpen the saw by recognizing what is slowing you down. Asking the question, “Where am I not working at peak and how can I get better?” Even though you are busy, it is important to stop and educate yourself to become more efficient and effective. Marketplace & Academy provides you with a perfect chance to step away from the day-to-day and assess what is down the road. You can also take some time to participate in an ASTRA webinar. The free, on-demand webinars are a perfect opportunity for lunch and learn.

Prioritize – It is amazing how often we get to the end of a whirlwind day and wonder what happened to the day. At the start of your day, instead of concentrating on all the things you need to do today, stop and recognize the most important “one thing” you need to do today. This will help you to prioritize other work around it.

Assess – Lastly, take time to do an assessment of you in addition to work. Sharpening the saw includes attending to your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual selves. Ask yourself: “Do I need to take a walk around the block and have some quiet time? Maybe I need to switch activities for a while or even stop and have a glass of water?”

Recognize the importance of stopping to sharpen the saw as you reach for bigger and better. How are you stopping to sharpen your saw today?

Kimberly Mosley portrait. Photo by Andrew Collings.
Kimberly Mosley, CAE is the President of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA). Kim has been a leader in the association industry for more than 20 years with experience in technology. She is a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and Association Forum where she served in many leadership roles including serving as chair of the Diversity Workforce Committee. In 2002, she was awarded the Diversity Executive Leadership Scholarship and in 2003, she earned distinction as a Certified Association Executive.  She also lectures, blogs and writes articles on association management and technology.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Your story is so true! I had a panic about ASTRA being right around the corner just the other day. Honestly it is the best time and money spent on my business. I get to sit at a table with my peers and really discuss what is going on in my business. I get at least one gem in every conversation, class session, and tradeshow booth. They make me look at my business in a new light that I would not have considered being stuck in my office!

    Liked by 1 person

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