Sharpening The Ax

You’re Fooling Yourself If You Don’t Believe It

I had a student recently complain that the website I wanted everyone to take their quiz on was “not working.” I know that most everyone else in class was on the website taking the vocabulary quiz, so that meant the issue was with that student’s Chromebook. “Did you restart your Chromebook?” I asked when she told me the quiz website wasn’t working. “Sure.” I turned my teacher eye on her. “Did you really? Off then on?” “Uhgggg!” She groaned. “That will take a whole 12 seconds!”

You’re Kidding Yourself If You Don’t Believe It

Patience is not something that we humans are good at typically. You don’t have to be a teacher to know that patience is a virtue that is undervalued by many and lacking to various degrees in most of us at one time or another throughout our lives.  Instant gratification is hard to combat when the alternative to that is patience, which most of us assume is simply waiting for what we want to actually, well, happen. I want my _____and I want it now! You can fill in the blank.

Get Up, Get Back On Your Feet

Nobody ever said though, that patience had to be passive. That is an assumption we have made over time. Patience is cemented in our minds as another word for waiting. I’m guilty of that association myself. However, while sitting in church today, my pastor, Jeff Wofford, set me straight.

You’re The One They Can’t Beat and You Know It

He told an anecdote about two men chopping wood in a contest to see who could chop the most from sunup to sundown. When one man took a break for lunch, the other man assumed he was being lazy and decided he could get ahead in the competition. Before long, the man on lunch break went back to chopping word and was soon out chopping the first man. By sundown, it was clear he had chopped twice as much wood as the man who did not stop for lunch. Confused, the tired and hungry competitor asked how he had done this.

“How did you beat me?” You even took a break for lunch!”

“Ah,” said the other man, “I did take a break, but it was during that break, that I sharpened my ax.”

Come On, Let’s See What You’ve Got

Yes. The old “sharpening my ax while I eat lunch” trick. That is active patience. Taking a break from one activity does not mean that you can’t also do other things that can help you accomplish your current task. Sharpening your ax could mean that you are honing your skills, reading, resting, eating proper nutritional meals and snacks, finding ways to be proficient, exercising, and the list goes on. All of this means you aren’t sitting still while being patient. You are doing something else.  

Just Take Your Best Shot and Don’t Blow It

Are you stuck on a project? Can’t seem to push past the current issue in order to find a solution or to complete the task? Do you feel like your wheels are spinning but you aren’t getting anywhere?  Then practice active patience and do something else. Do something else that will sharpen your ax. Creative types and problem solvers have used this technique for centuries. Performing a task that is very different from what you’re currently working on that has you “stuck” often jump starts the brain and suddenly the solution is obvious.  Be patient but active. Being stuck doesn’t mean we give up. It doesn’t mean we’re done. Finished. Tapped out. It means we create a mental diversion, we practice active patience and do something else that will help us make a break through when we least expect it. We get exercise, eat well, sleep (not my strong suit), and feed our souls. There’s a lot of school year left, and regardless of all the work that faces us, the piles of papers to grade, students to tutor, parents to contact, and extra duties to perform, there’s one thing above all else for us to do. We sharpen the ax.

Partial lyrics are from Fooling Yourself by Styx.

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