The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People: Sharpen The Saw

As you renew yourself in each of the four areas, you create growth and change in your life. Sharpen the Saw keeps you fresh so you can continue to practice the other six habits. You increase your capacity to produce and handle the challenges around you. Without this renewal, the body becomes weak, the mind mechanical, the emotions raw, the spirit insensitive, and the person selfish. Not a pretty picture, is it?

Feeling good doesn’t just happen. Living a life in balance means taking the necessary time to renew yourself. It’s all up to you. You can renew yourself through relaxation. Or you can totally burn yourself out by overdoing everything. You can pamper yourself mentally and spiritually. Or you can go through life oblivious to your well-being. You can experience vibrant energy. Or you can procrastinate and miss out on the benefits of good health and exercise. You can revitalize yourself and face a new day in peace and harmony. Or you can wake up in the morning full of apathy because your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone. Just remember that every day provides a new opportunity for renewal–a new opportunity to recharge yourself instead of hitting the wall. All it takes is the desire, knowledge, and skill.

So… how do you Sharpen Your Saw?

The Pace Of Change

The pace of change keeps accelerating, which I feel makes it even more important that we focus on improving ourselves and/or our organizations. Millennials and Generation Z employees are on a never-ending quest for knowledge and self-improvement… and Gen X and Boomers were self-improvement pioneers.

To help us all figure out our relationship with time, personal change and… Sharpening The Saw… Stephen R. Covey balances the concept across 4 main categories (or dimensions). These dimensions are:

  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Mental
  • Social / Emotional

Whether we are speaking of people, departments or organizations, Sharpening The Saw must be balanced across these four ‘dimensions’… otherwise an imbalance will be created. We can offset an imbalance for a while, but not long-term. When organizations ignore four-dimensional balance, inefficiencies, defensiveness and lack of synergy (Habit 6) ensues creating a loss in productively, customer satisfaction and ultimately profitability.

Ongoing Process of Sharpening The Saw
Sharpening The Saw is an ongoing process of personal change — not something you can binge — like your favorite TV show (which I sometimes do). You need to define your own balanced, four-dimensional life to be successful! If you are a leader, I believe part of your role is to help the people who report into you and/or look up to you (your family), explore these dimensions and establish goals for themselves.

We all have busy lifestyles; therefore it’s no surprise we have to insert Sharpen The Saw into our Time Management best practices and make it part of our Quadrant II priorities (Habit 3). Our future success and ongoing reputation depends on us taking action. I’ve seen students have great success with this concept.

Stephen says, “It means exercising all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently in a wise and balanced way. To do this we have to be proactive.” I love the words exercise and balance. Proactive means we have to plan for it — to put it in our schedule and protect the time (Quadrant II), for all 4 of the above mentioned dimensions.

Self improvement takes time — just like working out and getting fit. Stephen sees self-improvement as a never-ending upward spiral of ‘Learn, Commit, Do’. Personally I see it as a never-ending spiral of ‘Commit, Learn, Do.’ No matter what your preference of order of those three words, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is something you have to be mindful of and continually practice.

When you begin working out, a trainer will help you receive maximum benefit and minimize injury. In the same vein, a personal coach will help guide your personal change and keep you on track.

What Is Your Purpose? What Are You Committed To?

If you work with a personal coach, get them to help you define what your motivator is. What do you want to do / be? What are your values? How do your core competencies need to migrate? What inspires you? How can you live with purpose and integrity… following our values. How can you stay focused on:

  • Win/Win… Habit 4
  • Listening… Habit 5
  • Synergize… Habit 6

Sharpening The Saw is anything that will help you renew your energy and keep you balanced.

Again, how do you Sharpen Your Saw (keep the four dimensions in mind)?

How you sharp the saw is personal. For example, what if you took one night / week without TV to get in touch with your values? Instead of TV you:

  • Read for pleasure (not work)
  • Get a degree — or another degree
  • Read for school or a night class
  • Made art
  • Cooked all night with your family / friends because you love to cook not because you have to cook.
  • When to the gym — and enjoyed the steam room
  • Meditated
  • Went to a play (not a movie)
  • Walked in the park / went snowshoeing
  • Listened to music
  • Hand wrote a journal — or letters to friends / family

I’ve recently found a pod cast series called ‘On Being’ with Krista Tippett and I am enjoying how she explores the complications and beauty of human life. Krista is helping me sharpen my spiritual saw. (@Beingtweets)

Stephen R. Covey suggests targeting 1 hour / day to focus on Sharpening Your Saw. If that works for you then terrific.


Over time remembering to Sharpen Your Saw will get easier to plan and do. Whatever you choose will become a feeder into a life of quality — the glass half full — abundance of your life.


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