Sharpen Your Saw

sharpening the sawHow sharp is your saw?

Over 20 years ago I first encountered Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. The principles in that popular book revolutionized how I thought about life, ministry and getting things done. I had always been a pretty effective doer, but I easily ran myself into the ground when I exhausted my physical or emotional energy. Or, I simply hit the ceiling of personal skill necessary to keep growing in an area.

The seventh and final principle, “Sharpen the Saw,” helped me understand the need for continual rest, recovery and retooling. A tool under continuous use becomes dull, and ultimately it requires more time and effort to complete a job than if one would simply stop, sharpen the saw, then resume cutting.

I have written on rest and my own journey of regularly resting in order to restore passion.

Today I am working from home, taking time to retool and sharpen my own saw. What I am retooling? On my agenda for month of January:

1. Learn Google Drive. I’m a long-time user and fan of Google Docs, but the recent changes to Google Drive have made it more challenging to rapidly find what my team needs during virtual meetings. Figure this out.

2. Master personal workflow. The mobile app world keeps offering new and better tools to organize information, manage tasks, share to-do’s, and keep work moving. But newer isn’t always better. Leadership is about wise action, and when I am overwhelmed I cannot lead well. Today I am reenvisioning the use of my preferred tools across my three primary devices (iphone, ipad, macbook air): Evernote for information and task management, Trello for shared workspace with my team, Things for personal To-Dos (yes, I like a separate app for home use), and for written ideas, my Behance Action Journals.

3. Upgrade MailChimp skills. I have multiple mailing lists for partners, blog subscribers, friends, teams, and prayer partners. I need to sort out a more efficient way to keep the right people connected with the right ideas in timely ways. If I were being graded, right now I would give myself a C- in effective personal communication to these various tribes.

When you look at this list, realize that two years ago none of this would have been on my Sharpen the Saw agenda. We have to keep up. These aren’t black belt digital Ninja skills. These are the new entry level competencies required to lead well in our social media/digital environment.

Where does your saw need sharpening?



By Ken

Dr. Ken Cochrum (DMin, Bethel University) is Vice President of Global Digital Strategies at Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) in Orlando, Florida. An avid cyclist and aspiring guitarist, he also holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas and a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He recently co-founded, a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies. He previously served as vice president of Cru’s student-led movements worldwide. He and his wife Ann spent 13 years in East Asia where they raised their two children. Ken blogs regularly at

8 replies on “Sharpen Your Saw”

Thanks, Andrey. We are also working on a shift in our personal finance app. Which one are you using?

This motivates me to challenge myself in pursuing new technology. Spending more of my time at home can lead to being pretty rusty or being sharp only in a few places. Mailchimp is something I’d like to investigate more this year. I’d also like to get more proficient at wordpress too.

Thanks, Mike. The more I use Trello, the more it grows on me. It actually functions like I think. I’m just not used to an app that can do that.

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