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When was the last time you took time away from work to develop YOU? In the early 80s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about the importance of “sharpening the saw.” Covey tells the story of a man who was walking through a forest when he came across a frustrated lumberjack. The lumberjack was trying to cut down a tree and was swearing and cursing as he labored in vain.

“What’s the problem?” The man asked.
“My saw’s blunt and won’t cut the tree properly.” The lumberjack responded.
“Why don’t you just sharpen it?”
“Because then I would have to stop sawing.” Said the lumberjack.
“But if you sharpened your saw, you could cut more efficiently and effectively than before.”
“But I don’t have time to stop!” The lumberjack retorted, getting more frustrated.

Is this story relevant to you? Do you get frustrated, yet continue to struggle with a “blunt saw?” I know that many times we feel that we don’t have time for ourselves; for our health, our spirituality, or our learning development.

I just spent 5 days at the National SHRM conference in Las Vegas. It was time for me to sharpen my saw. It was wonderful and empowering, and so much learning filled my mind. I was also able to spend time with amazing friends and colleagues, and enjoy the sunshine of Las Vegas (even though it was 100+ degrees).

Here are just a very few of my many learnings; I’ve especially included the ones where we are encouraged to learn and renew.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart’s advice: “Learn, be curious and ask the right questions. I’m an extremely curious person. I’m constantly trying to find out new things. Every day, I drive my driver crazy in the city because I won’t let him go down the same street twice. We have to go down a new street because we might see something interesting.” She applies the same curiosity to her business ventures.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management challenged HR professionals to create more-inclusive workplaces, specifically calling on them to hire people with disabilities and/or criminal histories, veterans, and people over age 50. Johnny said, “everyone deserves the dignity of work. We are asking you to do more than tap into underused talent pools. I am asking you, as HR professionals, to create the workplaces where everyone can thrive, where everyone is valued, where everyone learns, where problems get solved, differences are resolved, and individuals can evolve. Where everyone shares in economic opportunity; family security; safer, stronger communities; and the fruits of a better world.”

Brené Brown

Brené Brown challenged HR professionals to help cultivate brave leaders who will humanize work. “Courage is teachable, observable and measurable. We can teach people how to be braver. We can teach people how to show up and do hard things…it’s not fear that gets in the way of courageous leadership, it’s armor. It’s what we do to self-protect when we’re afraid. Because truthfully, we’re all afraid and brave at the same time, all day long, every day…One of the chief barriers to developing courageous leaders is the inability to have tough conversations.”

Blake Mycoskie

Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, plans to launch a self-help toolkit next year “to help people live their best lives.” And he urged HR professionals to focus on self-care as well, so they can continue to help other employees. “When you put giving at the center of a business, something bigger than just making money, your customers become your biggest marketers. They’re so proud of supporting your brand that they tell everyone about it.” His company’s mission also helped attract and retain workers. When he first started out, he had employees who had come from large, prominent companies. “I saw more people were burned out, they were stressed, and they were less committed, and that really worried me,” he said. In contrast, when he traveled to other countries on “giving trips,” he saw local residents who had little material wealth but a deep joy and connection with family. In the U.S., 1 in 6 people take antidepressants, 40 million people experience anxiety, and 44 percent of employees say they are burned out. He realized he was experiencing some of these symptoms himself. Mycoskie partnered with researchers who identified 10 habits that can improve a person’s well-being. In late 2020, they plan to launch a project called “Madefor,” based on the belief that “we are all made for more.”

What will you do to renew yourself? Are you taking time out for learning? Call us about a Purple Ink training for you or your team or an individual coaching session to help you focus on yourself, renew, and learn!

“Renewal is the principle—and the process—that empowers us to move on an upward spiral of growth and change, of continuous improvement.” – Dr. Stephen R. Covey

JoDee Curtis
JoDee Curtis
JoDee Curtis is the Founder of Purple Ink and the ink pad, author of JoyPowered™: Intentionally Creating an Inspired Workspace, co-author of The JoyPowered™ Family, and co-host of The JoyPowered Workspace Podcast. JoDee has a passion for helping organizations and individuals discover their talents and do more or what they do well!

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