Talent Development Centre

Sharpen the Saw


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Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People identifies habit number 7 as “Sharpen the Saw”. That book was written over 25 years ago, yet its teachings are asSharp Saw relevant today as they were then! Habit number 7 has become even more important today because of the speed of change in today’s world.

What does “sharpen the saw” mean? Covey portrays the “saw” as the tool that needs to be sharp in order to do its job well.  If the carpenter waits for the saw to get blunt before sharpening the blade then the quality of work will be affected.  The best carpenters will always have a sharp saw, which means good tools and therefore the best results.

The tools most independent contractors use in today’s knowledge society are our experience and knowledge. Covey advocates lifelong learning!  He tells us that in order to be successful we should always be learning or we let our tools get blunt and the quality of our work suffers.

Here are five reasons why people do NOT invest in learning:

  1. They think they know it all already.
  2. They are unwilling to make the effort.
  3. They don’t see the value in learning.
  4. They feel that they learn by doing the job.
  5. They believe that learning is done in school, and now they are in the real world.

Here is reality:

  1. The world is changing at an incredible pace. Your knowledge today will be obsolete in a few short years.
  2. The person who DOES continue to learn is pulling away from you, no matter how good you think you are.
  3. Contractors whose resumes show up-to-date certifications and refresher courses are much more attractive to a client.
  4. When change catches up with you it is like the frog in the pan of water that is slowly brought to the boil.  It happens slow enough that you don’t see it coming, but the effect is the same as if the frog was dropped in boiling water!
  5. If you take every chance possible to learn, then you have a better chance to compete into the future!

Do you invest in training?  How do you schedule it in between contracts?  If you’re not keeping the saw sharp, what are you waiting for? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.

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