The Seventh Habit – Sharpen the Saw

I came upon a man in the woods cutting down a tree. He was tired and irritable and when I asked him how long he had been there, he replied “all day”.  When I suggested he stop and sharpen the saw, he said “I can’t, I’m too busy cutting down this tree.” 

Pointedly obvious in its conclusion, this little story provides an analogy to what is wrong in so many of our lives. It is the seventh habit of  Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  It is about renewing yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

For me, the most difficult issue is the physical. My work is very sedentary (I’m an accountant), so there are not a lot of requirements physically. During tax season, I melt into my desk chair. In the past, my attitude has been like Mark Twain’s, “Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I just lay down until it goes away.”  As I approach 60, I realize what a toll it has taken on me.

So grateful for these days of Google, I found Mayo clinic’s web site on core strengthening exercises, and for the last forty-five days I have made a morning ritual of exercising. My body is not grateful that I have this new found passion after 57 years of letting it go, but it is slowly beginning to respond with some muscle tone and stamina. I started by gaining weight (it’s true that muscle weighs more than fat), but the last week has been somewhat more productive.

Still the issue is not losing weight, but strengthening my core. And I have found that as the core muscles strengthen, so does the support to many of the internal organs. Can we hear a collective “well, duh” from the medical community?  The point being that it’s never too late to elevate a neglected area of your life.

It’s an old corny cliche, but none the less it is still true, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”  So whatever you are waiting for to start an exercise program, to read or listen to or study what improves your mind, to take steps to make that relationship with your spouse or child or parent or whomever better, to embrace the person that you find inside, let it begin today.


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