Sharpening The Axe | Bern Moses


A number of years ago, a delightful, petite, young French-woman, by the name of Jacqueline deChopper came to this country in order to fulfill the dreams she had, that we seemed to allow.

In her search for employment, she ended up in the Northwest lumber camps. We can only imagine how they must have received her. "Ho ho, Sweetheart, just what kind of work do you expect to find by coming here?"


"Well, I was hoping to get on as a chopper." She replied. "It's part of my family's heritage."

"A chopper!" They snickered, "That's hard to believe, little one. You're hardly bigger than an ax. Where have you worked before?"

"As a matter of fact," she smiled, "my last big job was the Sahara Forest."

"Sahara! That's not a forest," they laughed scornfully, " It's a desert."

"Yes… Now." Was all she had to add to get the job.

And, it turned out that she was quite good. So good, that upon entering the annual lumbermen's contest that included trials in log rolling, tree climbing, sawing and of course, chopping, Jacqueline made it to the finals.

The last remaining challenge was against a huge, muscular, and obviously experienced young fellow whose reputation as a near superman preceded him.

The contest demanded not only chopping skills but stamina as well, since the event was to run from ten o'clock in the morning until two in the afternoon. The winner would be the one who chopped the most wood during that time.

At ten o'clock sharp, the whistle blew and the chips flew. Amazingly, to the onlookers, the petite young woman seemed to be pulling well ahead. Suddenly though, about half way through the morning, she stopped and walked away, disappearing into the crowd.

The young man, taking full advantage, quickly began to pile up a distinct advantage.

Then Jacqueline returned, and to the astonishment of everyone, quickly turned the tide. But, once again, around noon, she took her ax and disappeared. She returned after an even longer absence, and applied her energy and effort to securing her hold on the championship, despite the young man's consistent effort.

Mid-afternoon, and the scenario repeated itself. By two o'clock, when the final whistle was blown, there was little doubt that the new champion was Mademoiselle deChopper.

Friends, family, coworkers and fans rushed forward and surrounded her as the sports reporters and their cameramen crowded in and around with their only question, "How in the world were you able to win like that? Especially, after taking all those breaks?"

"Oh, I wasn't taking breaks," Jacqueline exalted, "I was just taking the time to sharpen my ax."

Promoters have been using that story to sell seminar tickets, books and tapes since before the Last Supper. And, it works, because it's a good, valid analogy. Anyone who has ever used a cutting tool knows the feeling that accompanies the efficiency and effectiveness of a freshly honed blade. The gradually increasing difficulty of any task is so subtle as to go unnoticed. Yet, having a freshened edge can make it immediately apparent that things tend to get harder and harder, more and more difficult, if we forget to devote or invest some time to sharpening our tools and skills.

However, there is more to this than meets the eye.

As a very young lad, I was afforded the opportunity of working alongside my Dad and a number of other lumberjacks, as they harvested timber found in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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