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  1. This is a well-known story taken from Steven Covey's book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"... 

    A man was struggling in the woods to saw down a tree. An old farmer came by, watched for a while, then quietly said, “What are you doing?”
    “Can’t you see?” the man impatiently replied, “I’m sawing down this tree.”
    “You look exhausted,” said the farmer. “How long have you been at it?”
    “Over five hours, and I’m beat,” replied the man. “This is hard work.”
    “That saw looks pretty dull,” said the farmer. “Why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen it? I’m sure it would go a lot faster.”
    “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”

    sharpen your saw

    Running a train the trainer workshop last week which included practicing running a version of our 'Plan your Time' Module, I was reminded how very BUSY people are at work. Most of them work very hard, yet the majority end the day having achieved little in the grand scheme of things. First line managers in particular seem to rush about in a constant blur of activity, and complain that there is simply too much to do. Maybe there is. Or maybe they need to stop. Regroup. Think. Maybe they need to sharpen their saw.

    Sharpening your saw means taking time out of your day (or week) to set yourself up for success. In the story, a sharper saw would mean the man would use less effort to cut down the tree and get the job done more quickly. In modern businesses sharpening the saw may mean:

    • setting goals and planning so that you don't lose signt of what it is you are actually there to do
    • prioritising your tasks and focussing your energy rather than just reacting to things as they occur
    • delegating tasks to others even though (in the short term) this won't actually save you any time, it will in the long term
    • learning and developing yourself so you become more knowledgeable, skillful and confident
    • taking your holidays! a manager who is tired and stressed is never going to be able to give their best
  2. So, you're pretty good at what you do, but want to be better? One of the quickest, easiest and most cost effective ways of doing that is to be a CopyCat (or as HR professionals and Management Consultants say 'Model great behaviour').

    mirror woman

    You start out 'pretending' and then before you know it, you're doing something for real. Let me give you some examples:

    • When I was young, I was very shy. I pretended to be outgoing. A year later, this act had become habit and I WAS outgoing.
    • My husband was learning italian, but wasn't easily understood. He adopted an Italian accent (worried that this might be offensive), but his Italian was better!
    • I started to find Zumba a little less challenging and not as sweaty. I stood next to a trainee instructor in my next class and tried to do what she did. Yep - that was more of a workout!

    Role models are all around us. Modelling (or copying) their behaviour is a very easy and effective way of going from good to better, as its often just small changes that we have to make. We already have the basics. So whether you want to be more assertive, be a better listener or have a difficult conversation, just for a moment 'prentend' to have the qualities and skills you admire in another (don't have a personailty transplant!) and you may surprise yourself with what you can do simply by allowing yourself to not be entirely yourself.