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Sharpen Yourself and Your Tools for Less Stress

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We live in the forests of the San Bernardino Mountains, and several years ago we had a disaster on our hands in the form of dead trees. Over 1,000,000 (that’s not a typo -- one MILLION) of them.

This was a very serious problem. Drought and insects had taken their toll, and very few homeowners escaped untouched.

I had used one particular tree service for many years, as various trees fell on hard times, had been damaged, or for some other reason had to be removed or trimmed.

The service was always exceptional and their crews very pleasant and professional. I was talking to the owner about removal of one dying tree near the house when I casually asked how often they have to sharpen their chain saws.

“We have an electric sharpener and we sharpen all of our saws every morning before we leave for a job. That way, we always know that we are starting off with our tools in tip-top shape.”

That got me thinking. This is an excellent philosophy. Take care of your tools before they NEED taking care of.

I was reminded of the dark ages of computing, when a "computer" was a monstrosity that required an entire room that was not only air-conditioned but had a raised floor.

The early computers had regularly scheduled down time for “preventive maintenance” when the technicians took it over and ran various tests, changed certain moving parts, etc.

Airlines do the same thing with their aircraft, in fact it is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Mechanics swarm all over a jet and check everything imaginable, replacing worn parts and parts that are merely thinking about becoming worn.

Better to change a part and be wrong than to not change that part and be wrong. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room when it comes to a failed part on an aircraft, and the consequences can be catastrophic.

And then there is Steven Covey, who wrote about “Sharpening the Saw” as one of his “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” In this case, he was drawing an analogy between sharpening a saw and sharpening your mind. He was talking about reading and learning to become better at what you do.

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