The Lumberjack Story.
The lumberjack story has been made popular by a reference to it in Stephen Covey’s best Selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People due to all of the metaphorical messages about life contained within it.
Perhaps each of us will take a number of different message from the Lumberjack Story, the key messages I get from the story is that continuous development and using ones brain is just as important as just using ones brawn, perhaps it also tells me that in life we also need to stay sharp, work hard and work smart to succeed.
The Lumberjack story.
It was the final of the annual lumberjack competition, only 2 competitors remained, an older experienced lumberjack and a younger, stronger lumberjack.
The rules of the competition were quite simply he who could fell the most trees in 24 hours was the overall winner.
The younger lumberjack was full of enthusiasm and went off into the wood and set to work straight away, he worked all through the day and all through the night, he felt more and more confident with every tree he felled that he would win, because he knew that he had superior youth and stamina than the older lumberjack that he could also hear working away in another part of the forest.
At regular intervals throughout the day the noise of trees being felled coming from the other part of the forest would stop, the younger lumberjack took heart from this thinking that this meant that the older lumberjack was taking a rest, whereas he could use his superior youth and strength and stamina to just keep going.
At the end of the competition the younger lumberjack felt confident he had won, he looked in front of him at the piles of felled trees that were the result of his superhuman effort.
At the medal ceremony the younger lumberjack stood on the podium still confident and expecting to be awarded the prize of champion lumberjack, next to him stood the older lumberjack who he was surprised to see also looked a lot less exhausted than he did.
When the results were read out the younger lumberjack was devastated to hear that the older lumberjack had chopped down significantly more trees than he had, he turned to the older lumber jack and said,
“How can this be”?
“I heard you take a rest every hour whilst I worked continuously through the night”,
“and I am younger, stronger and fitter than you old man”!
The older lumberjack turned to him and said;
“Every hour I took a break to rest and sharpen my saw”
The meaning of the lumberjack story.
There are many messages that we can get from the lumberjack story, perhaps on a shallow level we may think that a sharp saw is more effective, so why struggle with a blunt saw, metaphorically this could also mean that more effective work gets more done.
I like to think that another message could be that rest is just as important as hard work.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln.
On a deeper level we can see other meanings in the lumberjack story, perhaps we should take notice that experience i.e that of the older lumberjack should never be underestimated and we should also take time to plan and do things more effectively.
The other message I take away from this story is the one that has been made more familiar in Stephen Covey’s book he uses the story as a metaphor of the need to stay sharp in life and to always seek to improve oneself.
The lumberjack story, is a great story to use during talks, business presentations or even just to tell to your kids.