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Inspiring stories about life – Sharpen your axe (Story #11)

We have been sharing with you inspiring stories that have the power to uplift mind and soul. These inspiring stories have become popular among our readers and a lot of positive feedback has been received. Readers believe stories shared in this inspiring short stories series fill their heart with hope & optimism. To continue with the series – “Inspirational and motivational short stories about life”, today I will be sharing a story # 11 – Sharpen your axe.

Inspiring stories about life – Sharpen your axe (Story #11)

Once upon a time, there were two woodcutters named Charles and John. Both of them were from same town. They were often at loggerheads over who chopped more wood. So one beautiful morning, they decided to hold a wood cutting competition to determine the winner between them. The rules of competition were pretty simple – whoever produces the most wood in a day wins.

They moved towards woodland nearby, both of them took up their positions in the jungle and started cutting away trees in their fastest possible speed. Chop, chop, chop… The sound of axes hitting wood echoed throughout the forest, and both contestants matched the opponent stroke for stroke. This lasted for an hour and all of sudden Charles stopped. When John noticed that there was no chopping sound from Charles’s side, he thought: “Ah Ha!!! Charles must be tired already!” And he continued to chop down his trees with double motivation and pace.

A quarter of an hour passed, and John heard his opponent chopping again. After this both Charles and John carried on synchronously. John was starting to feel exhausted and the chopping from Charles stopped once again. Feeling motivated and sensing victory close by, John continued on, with a huge smile on his face. But after 15 minutes, John could hear the chopping sound again from Charles end. John brought his all energy together and kept cutting the trees to go ahead with the competition.

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Also read this inspiring story: Motivational and inspirational stories about life – Empty your Cup (Story # 5)

This went on the whole day. Every hour, Charles would stop chopping the wood for fifteen minutes while John kept going persistently. So in the evening when the competition ended, John was totally confident that he would take the triumph.

But to John’s surprise, Charles had actually chopped down more wood. With a disappointing face John asked, “How did this even happen? How could you have cut down more trees than me? You worked for less time than me. I heard you stop working every hour for fifteen minutes!”

Charles smiled and replied, “Well John, it’s in fact very simple. Every time I stopped work, while you were still chopping down trees, I was sharpening my axe.”

In today’s competitive environment everybody, everywhere seems to be busy. Most of the people are just too busy doing and trying to achieve success like John; they do not spare essential time required to enhance their knowledge and renew themselves, to learn and grow – to sharpen the “axe”.


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

Sharpen the axe quotes abraham lincon


How exactly do you sharpen the axe?

To meet targets and deadlines, you work hard continuously amidst the overwhelming tasks at hand. You feel exhausted, drained, and your productivity declines. Do you simply take a break, relax and rest? Well that okay, but that isn’t sharpening the axe. Giving a pause for few minutes is just putting the axe down. The blade of axe will still be blunt even after your break is over. Yes, you (woodcutter) need to rest, but it’s only when you must also sharpen your axe’s blade, i.e. learns new techniques, recollect strength and stamina. Ensuring to sharpen your axe only you will become more productive.

In the book – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Dr. Stephen R Covey mentioned about this as habit no. 7. He defined “Sharpen Your Saw (or Axe)” to be: increasing your personal productivity, by having a balanced strategy to renew yourself in the four aspects of life: Physical, Social, Mental, and Spiritual.

Remember that every day is a brand new opportunity to recharge, renew, and refine yourself. Devote some moments into sharpening your axe instead of chopping away doggedly: start working smarter instead of longer.

Which techniques sharpen your axe most efficiently? Please share your valuable experiences in comment section, they are much appreciated. Thank you for reading this. I hope you are liking this series of motivational and inspirational stories.

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