I recently read the story of two neighbors who lived near each other in the mountains. They were quite competitive and always testing each other’s strength. One day, the first neighbor challenged the second to see who could chop the most wood in three hours. The second neighbor agreed to the challenge. The first man started out strong. As he chopped away, the second man chopped for about an half hour and then sat down for ten minutes under the shade of a large tree. The first man could not believe his neighbor’s laziness. To his surprise, the second man continued to take these ten-minute breaks each hour for the duration of the contest. Finally the three hours passed. Not having paused to take a single break, the first neighbor was sure victory was his. To his dismay, he found that the second Bourne had chopped twice as much wood as he had! In disbelief, he said, “That’s impossible! You took a break every hour.” Without batting an eye, the second man replied, “I wasn’t resting; I was sharpening my axe.” The moral of the story is that we become more effective and productive when we take time out to develop and fine-tune our skills and core qualities. For example, we should take time to attend at least one conference/workshop/seminar per year in our area of expertise; and I do agree with John Maxwell when he said “If your employer refuses to sponsor you, sponsor yourself.” And we must never never begrudge the money we spend to educate ourselves and sharpen our saw. Traveling to places we have never been before is another way to sharpen our saw. Visits to such places provide opportunities for us to learn about new culture, new ways of doing things, new ideas and not only that, we also come back revitalized with new vision for where we live. So, as we come to the end of another year, why don’t you take a break and sharpen your saw.