“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.”

Abraham Lincoln

In a world where the hustle is glorified, and the bustle is deified, it’s easy to forget the art of preparation. I mean, who has the time to sit around, twiddling their thumbs, or in this case, sharpening tools, when there are trees to be toppled, metaphoric or otherwise? But then again, who am I to talk about efficiency when I once spent an entire afternoon trying to vacuum a single glitter spill? That’s right, one does not simply suck up the remnants of a craft gone awry—it’s an epic saga that involves strategy, patience, and a surprising amount of peanut butter.

Consider, if you will, the audacity of spending six out of eight hours on ax-sharpening. That’s 75% of your allotted tree-chopping time dedicated not to the actual chopping, but to the preparation for said chopping. It’s like cooking a meal that takes five hours to prep and twenty minutes to eat. Yet, there’s a delicious wisdom in this seemingly disproportionate investment of time.

Sharpening the ax isn’t just about ensuring a clean cut; it’s a meditative dance with the tools of our trade. It’s about knowing every nick and cranny, every potential flaw that could turn a tree-felling expedition into a slapstick comedy routine. And trust me, the only thing more embarrassing than failing to chop down a tree is having it fall on you because you were too busy gloating about your ‘raw strength’ to notice the termite infestation at the base.

But let’s not digress into the realm of tree-related mishaps. The essence of this ax-sharpening business is about preparation. It’s about laying the groundwork for success, so when you finally swing that ax, the tree doesn’t stand a chance. It’s about spending those six hours not just sharpening, but also studying the tree, understanding its weaknesses, and maybe even apologizing in advance for the impending Timber! moment.

In a way, it’s a metaphor for life, isn’t it? Rush into things unprepared, and you’re likely to end up with more splinters than successes. But invest time in honing your skills, understanding your challenges, and maybe doing a little bit of soul-searching with your ax, and you’re not just chopping down trees—you’re building cathedrals. Or at the very least, a decent firewood stockpile.

So, the next time you’re faced with a daunting task, take a moment to consider your ax. Is it sharp enough? Are you prepared, or are you about to wage war on a forest with a butterknife? Remember, the glitter won’t vacuum itself up, and the tree won’t chop itself down. But with a well-sharpened ax and a well-prepared you, who knows what you can achieve? Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find yourself not only victorious over your arboreal adversary but also with a newfound respect for the art of preparation.

And if all else fails, there’s always peanut butter.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.