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The Exhausted Woodcutter: A Short Story on Production

There was once a strong woodcutter who was hired by a timber merchant.

The woodcutter was very excited about his new job and was determined to put forth his best effort and show what he can do.

The boss gave him an axe, and took him to the work site.

On his first day, the woodcutter cut 20 trees down.

His boss was thoroughly impressed.

“Keep up the good work!”

The next day the woodcutter tried harder, but this time, he could only cut down 17 trees. on the third day, despite trying his hardest, he only took down 15 trees.

Day after day, the woodcutter would only bring down less and less.

Confused and sad, he went to his boss and apologized for his performance. He said although he worked really hard, the results were disappointing.

His boss was silent for a moment and then he asked, “When was the last time you sharpened your axe?”

“Sharpen?!” the wood cutter responded. “I had no time to sharpen my axe. I was too busy cutting down trees.”


It hits all of us.

Even professionals like myself who make their living helping other people get on track.

We get so caught up in the automatic flow of things, and we neglect the very agent of production that moves us forward daily: ourselves.

You are the axe.

And it is important that you MAKE the time to recalibrate yourself when you have been on autopilot too long.

It’s too difficult to be at your best when you are not intentionally declaring each day as your best, and producing on purpose.

Eventually that gas tank gets lower and lower, and just runs on fumes.

When we talk about fitness, most people perceive it as a chore that requires more energy than you are willing to give to achieve.

It’s easy to make the excuse of, I just have no energy by the end of the day.

OR, I’ll do it tomorrow. or the next day, next week, next year.

In the mean time, you aren’t operating as your best self because you aren’t creating the conditions for you to be.

You don’t need to be a woodcutter to realize that your axe has to be sharpened after long bouts of strenuous effort.

You have to find a way to invest in yourself so that when you are navigating through life’s unpredictable forests, you are sharp enough to thrive through the wood and keep it going.

You can not produce if you are mentally, and emotionally at your sharpest.