King Solomon, who is credited with being the wisest man who ever lived, said, “if the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success.” Now, just in case you are wondering, King Solomon ruled round 970 BC.
About two thousand years later, along came the 16th president of the United States with his own words of wisdom. Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” He obviously believed in the value of tools that were in top working condition. Even the recently deceased Stephen R. Covey states in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, that we need to “Sharpen the Saw.”
What did these three men, who lived in vastly different societies, hundreds or even thousands of years apart, have in common? They were of the opinion that in order to work more efficiently, we need to keep our tools in good working order. They also agreed that one can do the job with a dull instrument, but that it will take much more effort to succeed. A way that we often hear this expressed now is in the idiom, “Work smarter, not harder.”
One thing that I learned from my Father and Grandfather was that once you sharpened the axe, it would become dull again as you used it. It was necessary to take a break from the task at hand and spend a little time re-sharpening the tool. Once they did this, the work could proceed again at a brisk pace. I asked them when they knew it was time to stop and re-sharpen and they told me that they could “feel” a difference in the effort it took to make progress. In other words, it was harder to do the job!
So, I ask you this question. When was the last time you sharpened your axe? Axe? Of course I am talking about training and continuing education.
Research shows time and again, that productivity goes up after you’ve successfully completed a training event. Speaking from personal experience, once I have attended a conference or training, I come back recharged and full of enthusiasm. And I’ve noticed that that enthusiasm makes a difference in my sales. My clients and prospects can tell a difference and are attracted to me like moths to a flame!
Because I’m aware of this principle of productivity, I make it a point to schedule time to travel to conferences. I do this even though there are webinar trainings available right in my office. I find that face to face, in person training allows me to concentrate more and to focus acutely. Sure, it is an investment of time, and certainly money, but without it everything takes more effort!
There are wonderful opportunities to network with and learn from your peers. If you’re not sure where to start, check with your consortia or host agency. Virtuoso just completed their Virtuoso Travel Week, and Nexion’s Co-Nexion is scheduled for October. If you specialize in cruises, you might check out Cruise360. TRO and other travel industry publications also offer some great training to re-invigorate you and sharpen your axe.
So, I challenge you to take action! Take a break from the office and put some effort into training. Some of the wisest men who ever lived would agree! Don’t you?
What works for you?