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Lorenzo Bruno

11th August 2019

Sharpening the Ax

100% time to cut that tree:

80% sharpen the ax, 20% cut the tree 

When we face an issue that we need to solve, or a project for which we need to find a solution we can follow mainly two strategies. We could rush to solutions or, slow down and think first.

Let’s consider that Johnny wants to build himself a house on a piece of land he just bought, however there is an issue, a tree is standing just where the house should be. So what can he do?

Obviously he wants to get rid of the tree as soon as possible so he start to try everything that comes to his mind to remove that obstacle. He kicks the tree but he hurt his feet, he tries to hit it with his car but he breaks his car, he takes a kitchen knife and tries to cut it out but after an hour he just scratched the tree; eventually, after many hours, he gets an idea and takes an ax, the old rusty one he has in his storage in the garden, and he starts to hit the tree, he keeps hitting the tree and after days and days the tree finally fall down.

It took him a week, a painful feet, a broken car and he has now blisters on his hands, but we understand him (as absurd as his solutions may sounds), he had to do it like this for the sake of not wasting a minute or did he not?

It seems crazy but this is what most of us do when we face a problem, we become unreasonable, and in our mind start this anxiety of wasting time, every second we spend thinking we feel it is a wasted one. Even with 5 minutes of thinking, when Johnny decided to use the ax, he could have saved himself a few days (and some pain), if only he had spent a bit of time sharpening his ax.

Was it time wasted if Johnny had spent a day planning and strategising his actions, a day sharpening his ax and a few hours cutting the tree (with minimum effort)? Well the math it’s easy to do.

When facing an issue it is ALWAYS quicker and smarter to spend most of the time (as much time as we need at the beginning) to sharpen our ax, so then we can easily cut the tree rather than jumping on solutions.

Basic strategy is to slow down to speed up, slow down and understand the issue and then be quicker and secure in solving it.


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