Sharpening the saw

Host: Kadiaitcha Pastoral Company
Written by Sam Chisholm

One day an old man was walking through the bush when he came across a frustrated jackaroo.
The Jackaroo was trying to cut down a Mulga tree, to build a yard, and was swearing and cursing as he labored in vain.

“What’s the problem?” the man asked.
“My saw’s blunt and won’t cut the tree properly”, the Jackaroo responded.
“Why don’t you just sharpen it?”
“Because then I’d have to stop sawing”, said the Jackaroo.
“But if you sharpened your saw, you could cut more efficiently and effectively than before”
“But I don’t have time to stop!” the Jackaroo responded, growing more frustrated.
The old man shook his head and kept on walking, leaving the Jackaroo to his pointless frustration.

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there, on both sides of the coin.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to realize when we are the Jackaroo in this story. With a task at hand it’s a very Australian attitude to work as hard as humanely possible all day, knock off, down a couple of beers and then repeat until complete. Hard work is an excellent quality that forged Australia into the great country we are today; there is a lot of blood, sweat and tears soaked into this oversized island we call home.

In todays society we are busier than ever, there are more things filling up our everyday lives thanks to better connectivity and access to technology. All this new stuff is on top of the everyday jobs that haven’t changed since the dawn of time; checking the cows, fixing the fences, clearing the scrub, weeding the garden, harvesting the crop, cooking dinner, having a shit… You name it. These are the timeless tasks necessary for survival, we did them yesterday, we’ve done them today and we’ll do them tomorrow.

So how do we manage all the added pressures in our lives that have come from the advancement of humanity while still taking care of the timeless tasks? That’s where sharpening the saw comes in. Unless you’re exceptionally talented, hard working, self-aware and ambitious, you wont be able sharpen the saw at the same time as you cut the tree.

There are some people that have a saw in each hand and a file between their teeth…  In my experience they are few and far between, if you are one of those people, stop reading now because you don’t need to hear what I have to say.

If you’re a mere mortal like me, listen up! To quote Tony Robbins “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Growing can be likened to sharpening the saw. Investing some “me time”, learning a new skill, refining something you already know, improving your physical wellbeing and striving to help others, that is the key to surviving in todays society.

For me, the first time I really went sharpening the saw was in 2012 to attend Marcus Oldham College. At 24, I had spent the past 6 years flying helicopters and chasing cows. I had worked hard to become the operations manager of a good-sized helicopter company based in the Kimberley; I had 4000 hours and the world at my feet.

The problem was, despite all the hard work, I had no idea about anything to do with business. I had money in the bank but no idea how to invest it; I had a manager’s position but no idea what a balance sheet was; I had a head full of good ideas but no tools to implement them. I really liked what I was doing but that voice in the back of my head kept saying, “you’re an idiot.”

If, right now you are saying to yourself “But I don’t have a voice in the back of my head”, then THAT’S THE VOICE…!

Anyway, I went to Marcus, had a fantastic year doing a Diploma of Agribusiness and learnt about all sorts of fancy business things like budgets, spreadsheets and how to drink rum without ruining your business suit, all of which are relevant in my life today. Taking the time to go and spend a year studying something I was passionate about really helped make my life easier and opened doors to new opportunities I wouldn’t have had if things hadn’t changed.

My point is this: Take the time to learn something new, refine something you already know and help those around you to do the same. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, or how you might be doing it, there is always room for improvement. Whether it’s really committing to doing 30 minutes of exercise per day, reading at least one book this year, learning how to write a budget you can stick to or improving your horse-riding so you can win the campdraft this year. An old dog is never too far-gone to learn new tricks.

“Sharpening the saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you” Stephen Covey

Flying high.

With the class at Marcus.

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