Summary Of Habit 7 of 7 Habits - Self Renewal

Have you ever heard of the term ‘Sharpen the Saw’? What does it refer to ?It means enhancing and preserving the greatest asset you have - yourself. ‘Sharpen the Saw’ refers to having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four key areas of your life: physical, social, mental and spiritual.

In this book, Covey discusses different techniques to rejuvenate these four assets through exercise, nutrition, reading, meditation, stress management, etc., so that you can advocate growth and bring real change in your life.

Habit 7 of highly effective people is sharpening the saw. The philosophy behind this habit is to take some time out and invest it in ourselves. This is one of the most necessary investments we have to make ourselves because nobody else will do it for us.

In this habit, Covey emphasizes cultivating the critical assets that we have in ourselves. According to him, we should renew our lives’ four core dimensions (physical, spiritual, mental, and social). By doing this, it becomes easy for you to increase your growth, handle complex challenges, and entirely change the life you used to live before.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”

Let’s take this example that way. Suppose two people are tasked with chopping down a tree in six hours. Person 1 starts to chop down the tree without sharpening the axe, whereas Person 2 takes some time to sharpen his axe and then starts to chop down the tree.

After the deadline of six hours, Person 1 was still unable to finish the job. On the other hand, Person 2 ends their career before time. The main reason for that is because his axe was well sharpened, which gives him the power to get the tree chopped quickly.

It clearly shows the importance of sharpening the saw instead of going without it. Because if you’re given the task of chopping down a tree, and your ax is not sharpened, then you not only consume more time but also invest more energy.

So, if sharpening the saw can bring those significant results, how can we implement it in our personal lives?

There is a simple answer to it; we need to focus on the four essential dimensions of our lives, as described by Covey.

Let’s discuss them one by one:

1 - The Physical Dimension

The physical dimension deals with taking care of our physical bodies. It is essential because if your body feels tired, it becomes tough to bring productivity, no matter how much effort you are putting in.

With a good physical body, you have all the strength and vigor required to take on life’s challenges. So, you must include taking care of your body in your priority list by focusing on three main areas:

  • Eating the right food
  • Doing exercise
  • Taking sufficient sleep

As far as exercise is concerned, Covey said that the best exercise program could be something we can easily do in-home, such as aerobic exercise, stretching, and weight lifting.

He mentions that it would not be that easy to adopt this routine suddenly because your body is not used to it. But, if we remain persistent, then it can be done quickly.

The significance of exercise can never be underestimated. When Richard Branson was asked about his extraordinary productivity, he mentioned that he used to work out daily, which helped him boost his productivity. Still, many people sacrifice exercise and sleep for non-essential activities, which cost them heavily.

2 - The Spiritual Dimension

The spiritual dimension is expressed in the need for a greater sense of purpose and meaning. Without meaning and purpose, our lives feel empty, and we start to feel alienated.

It helps to understand life’s purpose, like who you are and why you do it, etc. It’s pretty hard these days because daily activities consume a lot of time to keep spirituality aside.

But keeping yourself spiritually healthy is equally important as keeping yourself physically active. Many helpful activities help to keep your spirituality in shape like:

  • Spending some time in nature
  • Doing meditation
  • Listening to music
  • Praying
  • Attending religious services

You don’t need to spend all your time involved in these activities; if you take some time out regularly doing some of these activities, then it can be beneficial for you to lead a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

3 - The Mental Dimension

Wellness is not all about physical and spiritual well-being. It would help to concentrate on mental health to sharpen your brain more effectively.

The mental dimension can be improved straightforwardly by involving yourself in reading books. The best way is to read books above your comprehension so that you can grasp a new concept every time you read a book.

You can also do the puzzle-solving activity. It is a cognitive activity that sharpens your brain and keeps you away from diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Another best way to enhance your mental dimension is to listen to stimulating podcasts, take an online course, join a discussion group, etc.

4 - The Social/Emotional Dimension

The social/emotional dimension is about creating meaningful social connections with others. Different studies show that socialization is quite effective in eliminating stress. It provides a way to learn new ideas and share your thoughts with others.

Improving the social dimension makes it easy to have positive interactions with others. It provides a platform to build close friendships, helps to practice empathy and effective listening, and lets others care for you.

The social/emotional dimension also plays a crucial role in interacting and working with others. Some of the excellent ways of sharpening the social/emotional dimensions include:

  • Cultivating healthy relationships
  • Making new friends
  • Enjoying dinner with family
  • Contributing to your community
  • Sharing your skills and talent

To get optimal results, we need to improve all four dimensions equally because if we work towards a single size, then we can’t get the best results.

Renewing ourselves successfully in all four areas brings actual change in our life. It helps us by boosting our capacity to handle all the toughest challenges in our life, which are impossible without this renewal.

Key Takeaways Of Habit 7

By sharpening the saw, you tend to be more productive because you spend time discovering the tools and tricks required to solve a problem instead of doing it without proper planning.

  • Sharpening the saw makes you more skillful because you can produce far better results when you start working on your weaknesses than continuing with what you know.
  • Working on yourself helps you free yourself from mental prison and develop all the necessary skills to focus on success instead of worrying about failure.
  • By sharpening the saw, you make improvements day by day, which helps you take one step further towards a successful future because you start to work on removing all the obstacles that were keeping you away from it.
  • By eating a good diet full of nutrition and focusing on regular exercise, you can easily sharpen yourself physically, reflecting on your work.
  • Reading books that increase your knowledge and participating in a course that relates to your work helps you become mentally sharp and boost your efficiency at work.
  • Socializing and creating meaningful connections mentally refresh you and sharpen your mental capabilities.
  • Taking time out for meditation, prayers, and nature helps you spiritually replenish yourself. It also adds a lot to your performance.

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