Sharpen the Knife

Zelda Okia, MDUncategorizedLeave a Comment

A quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln states: “if you give me six hours to cut down a tree, I will spend the first four hours sharpening my ax.” One of the principles in the book, The Seven Lost Secrets of Success by Joe Vitale is “Sharpen the Knife.”  For me, this means that I am constantly striving to become a better version of myself.


Recently, I took an assessment called the “Sales Acumen Survey” through my local Toast Master’s Club called “SalesMasters.”

This survey gauged your strengths and weaknesses in the seven steps of the selling process.


I looked up the word “acumen” and it comes from the Latin verb acurear which means to sharpen. Another online dictionary defines acumen as the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions. 


We typically do not think of quick decisions as being smart or wise decisions.

But I remember reading an article that showed that the leaders of many successful businesses actually made decisions quickly and overall made more decisions than the leaders in less successful companies.

The study found that the successful leaders were not afraid to make many decisions, because they knew how to course correct on any decision as needed.

I found that very interesting.

How often do we get stuck in analysis paralysis, because we fear to make a wrong decision? Or we make no decision (which actually is a decision).

And that is not even counting the emotional time and energy wasted on second-guessing a decision after it has already been made. What if there were no wrong decisions?

What if we simply forgave ourselves for any perceived negative outcome? Our future self, who has all the information, can always look back at the past self who made a decision based solely on the information had at the moment. 

What if we took the position of these courageous leaders who when faced with a decision, trust their own judgment, experience, education, expertise, and move forward. They trust that the decision they are making is the best one at the moment. They remain cognizant of the option to course correct in the future if needed.

One thing that makes it easier to make quick decisions is when we know our purpose, plans, and values. Then for each decision, we ask ourselves if a particular action will bring us closer to or move us further away from our target.


What does sharpening the knife mean to you? Here are some of my thoughts:

1) Striving to improve myself / my work

2) Being a life-long learner

3) Coming up with new ideas for myself and my work

4) Making decisions quickly


Are you eager to sharpen your own knife? Then click here to download my free self-assessment: How Well Do You Know You?

To your health,

Dr. Z

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *