A Lesson from my Dad

My Father is a wonderful man.  He taught me how to enjoy learning, how to never give up, how to love a woman (he and my mother have been married for nearly 35 years now!), that a rolling rock gathers no moss, that family is more important than a career, and many other things. One lesson which he taught me stands out above the rest. He taught me this lesson through the telling of a story–like many of his lessons–thus I will retell the story as accurately as I can recall.

father and son

Two lumberjacks were both known for their incredible skills at chopping wood. The first was a young man of 23 years old, incredibly powerful and athletic. Everyone knew him to be one of the best lumberjacks, and he prided himself in that. The second man was an old hand of 70 years of so. He grew up in the trade, coming from a long line of lumberjacks in his family. He was a humble man, and kept to himself for the most part. However, he was so good at what he did, people would still come to him for advice.

Now it came about that there was going to be a wood chopping competition, namely who could chop two cords of wood the quickest. Both of these men were selected to go head to head. And so it began.

At the beginning, both men were keeping on the same pace. The young man because his strength, the old man because his craft had been perfected. After some time, the old man started falling behind a little, so he sat down to take a break. The young man saw this as a wonderful sign and went even harder. The competition kept going, and the old man would take breaks every half hour or so, meanwhile the young man only took a few. The young man could taste victory. However, the young man began to get very tired, and the old man began to overtake the young man. This infuriated the young man, so he began working even harder, but the old man was still somehow beating him. In the end, the old man won the competition. The young man and the spectators were completely dumbfounded.

The young man walked up to the old man and asked, “How on earth did you beat me, you were taking breaks every half hour, I just don’t understand?!?” The old man replied, “You thought I was just sitting down and resting, but in reality, I was sharpening my axe.”

Work smarter, not harder. Don’t forget to sharpen your axe. Why is this the best lesson I learned from my father? Because I think of this story nearly everyday. I work incredibly hard at what I do, but I still takes breaks to “sharpen my axe.” For instance, this last month I have been preparing for oral exams and my thesis defense. The mental energy that goes into this is incredibly exhausting. I put 8-12 hours of study in per day, but I still “sharpened my axe.” For me, this was in the form of playing worship music on my guitar, taking cat naps, and going on daily runs. In other words, I created a balance between my mental, physical, and spiritual life and successfully accomplished what I needed to. Thanks for the lessons, Dad.

What is a valuable lesson that you learned from your parents?

cut tree

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  1. Pingback: Surviving & Thriving as a Post-Grad, Part 2 | The 3 In One

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