What could be more important than investing in yourself on a regular basis? Your ability to earn money is probably your most valuable financial asset. Does it not make sense to invest in yourself regularly? Sharpen the Saw is the 7th habit in Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Sharpening your saw is in my opinion the most important step to becoming a better leader for the long run.
The author teaches a balanced renewal:
1. Physical: Exercise, Nutrition, Stress Management
2. Social / Emotional: Service, Empathy, Synergy, Intrinsic Security
3. Spiritual: Value Clarification & Commitment, Study & Prayer
4. Mental: Reading, Visualizing, Planning, Writing
Do you wonder how you will have time to invest in yourself regularly, even daily? Are you too busy to invest in yourself? Covey tells a story on page 287 about a man who has been manually cutting down a tree for over 5 hours. You ask the man, “Why don’t you take a break and sharpen the saw? I’m sure it would go a lot faster.” The man replies, “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw, I’m too busy sawing.” So it goes with investing in yourself. Taking time to invest and renew yourself is an activity that is not urgent but very important. You may remember from Put First Things First that this is called a Quadrant 2 activity. OK, that helps to illustrate the importance but doesn’t make it any easier. So here are a few ideas on how to renew yourself that are manageable. Pick the ones that work for you or come up with your own:
-Subscribe to a blog like LittleThingsMatter. Find one on a topic that interests you and will help you grow professionally or spiritually. This way, you can sprinkle balanced renewal into your daily routine of reading your e-mail. A few examples are listed below.
-Exercise on a stationary bike or stair machine 3 to 4 times a week for 20 minutes. The experts say that moderate exercise pays big dividends. You can read while on a stationary machine which allows you to renew yourself in several of the balanced areas at once.
-Go for a walk with a family member or friend after dinner. This allows you to get moderate exercise in an enjoyable manner while renewing a relationship.
-Take a few minutes to read and pray first thing when you get up in the morning. Your home should be quiet and you should be able to focus on renewal before you engage in your busy day.
-Take a few minutes at the end of the day if you are not a morning person….
–Read something you enjoy.
-Make a committment to investment in yourself significantly & annually. This could be going to a seminar, reading a book that you will put into action, or taking on a developmental project at work. You may want to consult with your boss on this.
-Make weekly or monthly investments.
-Read “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”-either again or for the first time.
I made a commitment to significant annual renewal and to make renewal part of my regular routine. This committment has played a major role in my development as a leader, husband, and father over the last 18 to 20 years. Let me challenge you to make a similar commitment to renew yourself. What can you do to make yourself a better leader and person today?
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