With only one week to go to the mid-year holiday break, I have no doubt that staff and students are looking forward to sleeping in a little longer and enjoying some time to themselves. In addition, our Senior students have almost completed the Semester 1 examination period and will definitely be looking forward to putting the books down for a few days.
We all live in a busy world; a world with many expectations and demands. We all feel these demands – staff and students included. We expect our staff to work hard, to focus on the development of our students and to support them in every way they can. They, however, suffer the same stresses and challenges as others do, and yet are asked to overcome these and care for our students. There are days in which this would be a challenging task. It is important that we all do our best, staff and students, but there are times we need to work smarter.
An analogy that I have used in the past is as follows:
Consider the story of two lumberjacks in a tree-cutting competition. Both were strong and determined to win the trophy. One was exceptionally hard-working and ambitious, chopping every tree down with every ounce of strength at the fastest pace; never stopping for rest, refreshment or planning his next move– he just kept going. The other lumberjack seemed more relaxed, taking his time to plan his approach and methodically felling trees and pacing himself. The first lumberjack worked all day non-stop, skipping his lunch break, expecting that his continued fast-paced effort would see him win the prize. The second lumberjack however, took time for lunch, rested and then resumed his steady pace.
At the end of day, the first lumberjack was amazed that he lost the competition. He approached his opponent and said, “I don’t get it. I worked longer and harder than you and went hungry to get ahead. You took a lunch break and still won. It just isn’t fair. Where did I go wrong?” The second lumberjack responded, “While I was taking my lunch break, I was sharpening my axe”.
We all know that hard work pays off; never giving up; trying that little bit harder – they all assist in improving overall achievement, but ‘working smart’ is even better. These are important lessons for students to understand now and for them to take well into the future. It is important that our students plan their approach to study, set deadlines, set realistic goals, and do not let this overrun their life – they need a balance, they need sleep, down time, family time and time for physical activity and cultural pursuits. Children should be encouraged to achieve such balance and to make a commitment to a co-curricular program or offering. It is good to work hard; great to work smart; best to work hard and smart.
Staff too, need time to re-energise, time with family, time to themselves. They cannot expect to be able to care for others and have the necessary energies, unless they care for themselves.
Stephen Covey in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, refers to “sharpening the saw”. In this phrase, he refers to principles of self-renewal. Sometimes students feel that they are too busy to “sharpen the saw” – but let us just think about how much more effective they could be if they did! We all need to attend to and renew the four dimensions of our nature – our physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional well-being.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four hours sharpening the axe”.
With the holidays only a week away, let us all take time to renew and refresh ourselves each and every week, and to think and plan our work each day. Take the time now to plan something nice as a family activity and sharpen your axe together.