For the past several days my “free time” has been filled up with cutting and removing dead timber off a neighbors property to use as firewood for the winter months. We are fortunate to have great neighbors in which we can help each other out. He had downed trees needing removed, I wanted firewood!
When we moved up to the mountains this past spring, one of my first investments was a good quality chain saw. After researching, and talking to those that used one much more often than I, I invested in a Stihl MS260. The saw is fantastic and I’ve put it to good use quite a bit this summer.
Now I’ve used chainsaws before, off and on, and would not consider myself a professional at it by any means. This past weekend when attempting to block about 4 cords of wood, something hit me. My chain might be getting too dull. What I began to notice is that I seemed to be working harder, burning more fuel, and cutting wood slower than what I thought I used to be doing. I denied this reality for quite some time before heeding the good advice of my much smarter dad, that it was time to change chains. So, after fighting with the dull chain for sometime, I gave in and replaced the chain. What a pleasant surprise! The new chain immediately began cutting thru the wood like a hot knife thru butter! Once again, Dad was right, and I should’ve listened to him sooner! (amazing how that works, right?) Before I knew it, I had all the wood blocked like I had wanted to accomplish, AND the job was done in less hours than I thought it would take. Not only did I finish early, but I wasn’t nearly as physically tired as I thought I”d be, nor did I use as much fuel as I had with the dull blade. I’ve since learned, keep your blade sharp, and things will go better for you.
So what does this story have to do with anything other than some basic chainsaw techniques that most anyone should heed? Walk with me for a minute here and lets use the blade parable in our walks in life. Often times, we too walk thru our lives with a dull saw blade. More times than not, we don’t even know “we” are dull. I know I’m not alone in my professional life when I feel like I’m exerting incredible physical and mental effort, yet my output, or results of this hard work seems to be less than what I, or others should expect. Mathematically, this does not compute. Hard work exerted should equal good results, am I right? No….
I read a story once about a lumberjack that had applied to work for a timber company. The manager told the lumberjack, “go out into this forest and cut down as many trees as you can. If you do good work we will hire you.” So the lumberjack went out into the forest, and worked very hard, and managed to cut down 18 trees. The timber company was pleased so they hired him. The next day the lumberjack went back out, proud of his new job, and worked even harder, yet, managed to only cut down 16 trees. He left work that day with his head hanging, but determined to come back the next day and work even harder. He was sure his strengths and efforts were just down, and he’d have to try harder. This daily diminishing amount of tree production continued on for about a week, each day with less production results. Finally, the lumberjack came to the manager and apologized for his decreased production, and assured his employer he truly was working as hard as he could. The manager asked the lumberjack “when is the last time you sharpened your axe?” The lumberjack replied “what do you mean sharpen my axe, I’m too busy trying to cut down trees!”
My story and the lumberjacks story are one in the same. As a society, and individually, we have this nature of becoming “busy bodies.” This really can be debilitating. The inattention to caring for our “saw” will eventually break us down, and decrease our production. Whether decreased production means decreased sales at your job, decreased output of care towards your family, or anything else. The principle remains the same. You MUST keep your saw sharp. Further, anyone with experience with knifes, or other sharp objects, can affirm, that a dull blade is much more dangerous than a sharp blade. With a dull blade you work harder, and often slip, and the cut a dull blade leaves is much more dangerous than one from a sharp blade.
At this point, hopefully the parable of the saw blade seems real and transferable into your life, as it is mine. Realizing the blade will dull, what next?
- Remember you are human. Your blade will dull, and it will dull again, and again, and again. The good news is, it can be resharpened every time IF you want it sharp.
- Determine what sharpens your blade. For those in a job which requires physical labor, the parable could be real, you might need to actually sharpen your blade/tools. For those in a role where your mind is the saw blade, sharpening may require reading/learning/researching. Lets also not rule out this principle as one that can’t be applied in a personal setting! Yes, your personal blade needs sharpened too! Is your “marriage blade” dull? Maybe some good quality 1 on 1 time with your spouse is much needed? Maybe INVESTING time with your kids, to restrengthen that relationship is needed. Whatever it is, make the investment.
- A sharp blade pays dividends.
- Check your “equipment/blade” often. Does it need sharpening?
- Much as my dad suggested to me to sharpen my blade. Help others learn how to sharpen their blade. You too, might find your blade becomes stronger and sharper in the process
Authored by Jeff Randol