Today’s Task: Sharpen Your Sword


Stephen Covey popularized the notion in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, that we must take time to stop and sharpen our saw from time to time if we are going to successfully cut down the trees and saw the logs that are before us on a daily basis.

And here is one of my favorite sources for quotes, Sir Winston Churchill. He said,

“When the battle drum beats, it is too late to sharpen your sword.”

So, today, I stop and address the topmost task on my ToDo List today: Sharpen the sword.

There are few places as inspiring and motivating as Leadercast when it comes to allowing us a time to stop and listen to some folks with very sharp swords. It also provides me some time and the opportunity to interact with folks who are equally concerned about putting an edge on their swords. Today, I join with many thousands of leaders from all walks of life in participating in one of the Leadership local simulcasts.

I do not know when the battle drum will beat and I will need my sword and will need it to be sharp. So, in the lull between battles, I find the time to tend to that task.

What is the leadership lesson?

The leadership lesson is that if you’re a successful functional leader, don’t make the assumption that your past dragon-slaying achievements are enough to propel you to the next level. Instead, sharpen your sword by seeking coaching and mentoring from someone that you KNOW has a sharp sword. And challenge yourself in the way you think and act. In so doing, you’ll achieve a more powerful leadership presence in the process.

Sharpening your sword is an ongoing process of personal development — not something that you can binge — like sitting through every James Bond movie ever made each Labor Day Week-end (which I sometimes do). Sharpening is not cumulative because your sword will become dull with use. So we must return to the grindstone for rough sharpening and the whetstone for the razor edge on a recurring basis.

It may be too late for you to attend this year’s Leadercast. But there are other events and opportunities for sharpening your leadership sword. If you need help locating some resources in your area, reach out to us and we will help you locate some resources today!


Photo credit: Albion Europe ApS / Photo / CC BY

3 Replies to “Today’s Task: Sharpen Your Sword”

  1. I must admit, I am a sucker for a sword metaphor! As a collector of swords, without the right tools, sharpening one without the right tools and attention is not only ineffective, but it can be dangerous as well. Making sure that mentor is the right person and that their tools are properly sharpened is paramount. I have been questioning my own choice of mentor in the last few days and must be careful how I proceed.

    1. Joshua, you are correct that the choice of a mentor is a critical decision each of us who wants to grow must make. I have been very fortunate to have some great ones. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.

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