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Practising Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Practising Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
30 May 2014 John Moore

When did you last sharpen your saw? ‘Sharpen the Saw’ is one of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

‘Sharpen the Saw’ means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you. It means having a balanced programme for self-renewal, continuous improvement and personal and professional development both at work and at home. If you do not sharpen your saw, it will become blunt and ineffective.

Time and constant use blunts saws, hence the need for ‘saw doctors’ who are able to restore the cutting-edge. In business, we often ‘get stuck in a rut’. Time and change also erodes our skills and dulls our energy and resilience, therefore sometimes, we need to take stock and invest in ourselves – we need to ‘sharpen our saw’.

We can ‘sharpen our saw’ in a myriad of ways. We can network with like-minded people and experts or meet with a mentor or a coach and learn from their ‘cutting-edge’ knowledge, experience and insight. We can volunteer for new projects or take on new responsibilities. We can reflect on our experience and gain new insights and we can consolidate and assimilate what we have learned from these experiences. We can attend seminars, courses and undertake a programme of personal and professional development, possibly leading to a qualification. We can read books, journals, blogs, watch videos and we can participate in networking events.

How you ‘sharpen your saw’ is less important than the fact that you do.

Increasingly, I am finding that the managers, team members, business coaches or consultants that come to Exponential are using a blend of methods and techniques to sharpen their saw. Some prefer traditional studying methods, but increasingly they are making use of our video-based resources, our virtual networking groups, our online coaching and tutorial sessions – they use and choose the mix of learning methods that suits their busy work and lifestyles.

One manager recently said to me, “I like the flexibility of being able to study where and when I like and the video modules are great for watching on my iPad.”

Three of the organisations who have recently ‘sharpened their saw’ with Exponential include Achilles Information Ltd, Wakefield Council and HSP Financial Planning Ltd. Six managers from Achilles have been awarded the Level 3 Certificate in First Line Management; three from Wakefield Council have achieved the Level 5 Diploma in Management and Leadership and Sharon Hanner from HSP has completed the Level 5 Certificate in Management and Leadership.

Other completions include Jevejenija Uljanenok from Break the Cycle (Level 3 Certificate in First Line Management), Glenn Higson who is serving in the Royal Navy (Level 5 Certificate in Professional Consulting) and Bogdan Sovinc from Slovenia has just completed his second qualification (Level 5 Award in Management Coaching and Mentoring) with Exponential Training.

Congratulations to all of you!

My question to you now is ‘what are you going to do next to ensure your ‘saw stays sharp’?

In Nigeria, Exponential partner, Tope Toogun, Accelerated Learning Systems Limited, is helping over 100 managers to ‘sharpen their saw’ using the online management skill assessment tool, Perspectives 360 and our Management Skill Builders. Others choose to maintain their saw by watching Coaching Works, subscribing to ‘In the Loop’ or updating or upgrading their professional qualifications.

The aim of this blog is to encourage you to invest in your key resource or as the cliché says, your most valuable asset namely you and the people you employ. What are the benefits of continuous professional development?

How can CPD benefit you?

By taking a planned and structured approach to continuous professional development and learning, you will:

  • Gain new skills, insight and competences enabling you to perform better
  • Develop your professional capability and enhance your reputation
  • Boost your self-confidence and self-esteem and make what you do more satisfying and enjoyable
  • Have a greater choice, employment mobility and earning potential

How can CPD benefit an organisation?

Your organisation will benefit by:

  • Increasing your return on your investment (ROI) through increased workplace performance
  • Improving morale and staff motivation and reducing recruitment and training costs
  • Unlocking talent and potential within the organisation enabling people to innovate and to find new ways of improving performance
  • Retaining valued team members enabling you to differentiate your organisation from others

My parting question today is to ask you – WOULDN’T NOW BE A GREAT TIME TO ‘SHARPEN YOUR SAW’?

John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.


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