I enjoy cooking and playing around in the kitchen. We have a new knife in our home (a very generous wedding gift), and I adore it. It is balanced and razor sharp. I am constantly looking for things to chop, dice, or julienne. Most people think that the sharper a knife is, the more dangerous it is. That's not actually true. More accidents happen with dull knives than with sharp ones. The duller the knife, the more pressure you have to exert. More exertion increases the chances of the knife slipping and cutting you. The author of the book Ecclesiastes wrote that this is true not only of knives, but of life itself. He wrote, “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.” (Ecclesiastes 10:10) Sharpening a knife is like taking time to work on me. Stephen Covey calls this process “sharpening the saw”. Staying “sharp” makes us more effective at home, work, and with friends. Here are a couple of ways to stay sharp:
Make Time To Read
Reading is a chance to open ourselves up to other thoughts and perspectives. All your reading doesn’t have to be related to your job. Read a novel. Check out a collection of poetry that you have been curious about. Subscribe to a blog. There are tons of valuable voices out there that can help you grow and see the world in a new way.
Make Time To Pray
For Christians, it's easy for prayer to be something that we talk about but rarely do. Prayer reminds me that I’m not alone in the challenges I am facing. It connects me to a God who loves me and cares about the details of my day. Prayer allows me to focus on the fact that there is a bigger purpose and plan to my life. Ancient writer and prophet Jeremiah, reminded his nation of that fact. He told them that God had a good future in mind for them. His plans would offer them hope for their future (Jeremiah 29:11). We often need to be reminded of that as well.
Make Time For Silence And Solitude
Take a walk and leave your ear buds at home. Shut out all the sounds that can clutter your day. Sometimes you need to be alone to give your brain a chance to re-calibrate itself. Taking a break from the hectic pace of life, even for just a few minutes, can improve your mental clarity. It allows you to see that the things that seemed so important a few minutes ago, might not be as critical as you had imagined (Did I just get into an argument about mashed potatoes?!). Getting away and getting quiet is like adjusting the valve on a pressure cooker. We are able to relax and release some of the stress and pressure that have been building up. Less stress means that you are less likely to do or say something that you will regret later.
Your relationships and work are important to you. So, cut out time in your day to take care of yourself. The sharper you are the more success you will have.
Photo Courtesy of Death To Stock Photo
"Sharpening the Saw" is one of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People from the book by the same title. It is possibly the greatest book on leadership and personal growth in existence. Seriously, go read it.