Sharpening Your Axe

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Abraham Lincoln

On New Year’s Eve morning, I was wandering through Target for nothing in particular when I got a text from my airline that read:
“Dear Customer, We regret that KQ762 has been rescheduled. For enquiries call your local booking office.”

KQ762 is a flight number. A flight for travel the following day, 1 January, from JFK through Nairobi to Cape Town, a not insignificant journey.

This text was quickly followed by my booking agent:
“Sorry, the carrier has changed your trip. Please check your options as soon as possible.”

I initially felt curiosity, a pleasant feeling much preferable to the panic and anxiety that followed when I checked my “options” and saw that my booking agent accidentally canceled my entire trip and was requesting an additional 100% of the flight ticket to book a new, longer journey.

This set about a 24-hour expedition to try to “undo” the accidental cancellation (an ultimately failed endeavor) and later booking an entirely new, day-of journey and praying that my credit card company or the booking agent would refund me for their accidental cancellation (this is still pending as I write).

There are times like these when quick action is required. I travel or I don’t, I fly or I don’t, I get where I’m going on time or I don’t.

This is the natural bend of things and the way we are conditioned by society to treat our lives, one of urgency and now-or-never. The world is banking on our fear of scarcity, and that’s why Black Friday and Cyber Monday and shitty bosses and toxic relationships get our money and our attention time and again. We’re afraid that if not this, then nothing. If not now, then never.

In the case of my flight, this was true. I was either on that 4pm flight to Nairobi or I wasn’t (spoiler: I was).

Most of the time, though, it’s fear and not reality, feeling rather than data, that is driving us to urgency. We remain on the hamster wheel of life doing our best just to keep up because we feel anxious and afraid of what might happen if we don’t.

But If we want different results, if we want freedom from mania and immediacy, then we need a different way of working.

If we’re chopping a tree with a dull axe, the answer isn’t to swing faster and harder. It’s to stop and sharpen the proverbial axe.

So how do we do that?

The value doesn’t lie in the ‘newness’ of what I’m about to say. It doesn’t need to be new to be valuable. Much like a gym doesn’t need new equipment to be effective. A squat is a squat is a squat.

What I’m about to ask is the first question I ask every new client on our first session…

What is it that you truly want? And if you had that, what would you want next?

These are the most powerful questions you can ask yourself, and they will never depreciate in value. Asking yourself this question constantly and consistently is the wisest investment of time you can make so that you can direct your actions and your energy in pursuit of this goal rather than the goal of ‘keeping up’.

When you give yourself permission to dream and to desire, beautiful ideas emerge.

Here are some things that came up for me:

  • Owning property
  • Moving my permanent residence from NYC to a beach town
  • Hosting a wellness retreat in said beach town
  • Adjusting my travel to bring my dog with me wherever I go
  • Building a signature program: rest into power
  • Growing my business to revenue to hire full-time employees
  • Slow down and take the time to determine your 2023 goals so that you face the year ahead with a sharp, clear mind rather than an exhausted, overworked one.

This is only the beginning.

Rooting for you with love from Cape Town,