A Valuable Success Principle from Expert Tree Trimmers

Aspens are common on Colorado.

They’re beautiful trees.

But they have a short lifespan.

They only last 20-25 years before dying.

The aspen trees on our current property are reaching the end of their lives.

And two of them had to be cut down yesterday.

Before the team of three guys began cutting down the trees, each did some prep work.

One guy made sure the chipper was running smoothly. Another looped a line high up the trunk of the second tree to make sure it would fall in the proper direction. And a third knelt on the sidewalk with his chainsaw.

Then he took out a long thin file and began to sharpen each individual cutting edge of the chainsaw: One tooth at a time, for about a minute each, all the way around the chain.

He must have been at it 10 minutes or longer before he finally decided the cutting edges were sharp enough.

Anyway, once he finished, both trees came down in about five minutes.

I was actually shocked how fast the process went once all the prep work was finished.

And I was reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s quip: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”

The guy who cut down our aspens spent about 10 minutes sharpening and only five cutting — the same exact numeric ratio in Lincoln’s formula.

Is there a lesson here? Of course…

It doesn’t matter how much you’ve already sharpened your tools in the past. Tools become dull if they are not maintained.

“Sharpening your ax” — or your chainsaw, or your mind, or your skills — ought to be a regular activity.

That’s how you stay proficient and competitive.

-Ryan M. Healy

Ryan M. Healy

Ryan Healy is a financial copywriter and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like WordStream.com, SmallBizClub.com, and MarketingForSuccess.com.