Sharpen Your Saw by Continuously Learning

What does a sharp saw have to do with lifelong learning? For all you Covey fans, you know Dr. Steven Covey coined the phrase "sharpen the saw" in his highly acclaimed book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. To me, I think about a saw sharpener as a complicated device that I would never be able to use. Doing an image search on "saw sharpener" on Google shows 423 different pictures of saw sharpening devices that require you to know various things and exert various amounts of effort to "sharpen a saw" in the traditional sense. Now there are probably close to this many ways we can keep our own saws sharp by continuously learning. I won't bore you with all of them, but I will outline a few of the ones I've found helpful below.

1) Join a professional organization and use their training outlets - You may already be part of an organization like Toastmasters, a local writer's workshop group, or something else of that nature. Perhaps there are other organizations out there that might also suit your needs? If you're not sure, ask someone how they've done what they do, and then do it!

2) Pursue an advanced degree - For some, an MBA or masters in something job related is what you need to advance up the ranks and to stay sharp in your current job. If this is you, there are so many different resources available to you now, some online, some traditional, some that blend the two, and definitely you can find something that will fit in your schedule if traditional schooling is for you.

3) Certification - For others, an industry-specific certification is all that's needed to stay sharp. Just like a traditional college, you can do self-paced study or take a class online to get the certification you need to move up.

4) Use your company's training - Many larger companies offer in-house training to associates once they reach a certain level. What have you got to lose by talking to your manager, supervisor, or HR department about the classes that might be available to you at your current level? If you're fortunate, you'll get a few different ideas, and your employer will probably pay for these classes and give you time to complete the necessary materials.

5) Read a book or a website that's topic specific to what you want to learn - If you're looking for a good book or for that perfect website, ask someone else you know who is an authority on what you need. There are so many books published every year, you're bound to find one or two that suit your needs. And the web is full of things to help you learn more about what you need to know.

6) Find a mentor - My last piece of advice is something you can do at anytime, and that is finding a mentor. Seek someone out in your company who knows what you need to know and ask them questions. Buy them lunch and pick their brain. Find someone in our organization who knows what you want to know and ask them if you can give them a call or have lunch together. Or look online and e-mail an expert. You'd be surprised at how many people are willing to help, if you'll just ask them. And maybe they'll even become a formal mentor of yours and be willing to invest some time in helping you advance your career and your life.

Phil Gerbyshak leads a team of IT help desk professionals in Milwaukee, WI, and finds that sharing his knowledge is a crucial component in his success as a leader and as a person. Phil's personal philosophy is paraphrased from Tim Sanders' fantastic book Love is the Killer App: "Share your knowledge, your network, and your love. The rest will follow." Read more of Phil's ideas at

In The News:

pen paper and inkwell

cat break through

How To Improve Communications With Those Who Were Difficult To Communicate With In The Past

You talked but didn't get a response. You talked but... Read More

3 Powerful Tips to Help You Have Your Best Year Ever

Here are 3 powerful steps you can take to free... Read More

Top Ten Success Strategies

1. Believe in yourself and what it is you do.... Read More

Are You Learning?

Whether you are self-employed, whether you are an employee, whether... Read More

Private Effort Means Success In Public

If we eat too much at home, the public eventually... Read More

Live Your Life To The Fullest

Do you sometimes feel that you're living a boring life?... Read More

?Defining and Feeling Successful? (However you define success)

Formula For SuccessThe winners in this life know the rules... Read More

Success Lessons from Baseball - Enthusiasm And Excitement Can Make The Difference

I remember, about 35 years ago, reading two books by... Read More

A Simple Idea from a Billionaire

It's simple and powerful.The philosophy of successful people is often... Read More

The Power Of Language: How To Language Your Future

Imagine living in the world that Helen Keller found herself... Read More

Creating A Life You Love

Imagine that right now, right here, today? there is within... Read More

7 Tips for Success

In this article we mention 7 tips for your success.... Read More

5 Ways To SuperSize Your Life

McDonald's does it, why shouldn't you? Life is filled with... Read More

Using A Weekly Review To Improve My Life And Business

"What a week!" you say at the end of a... Read More

The 7 Ultimate Laws Of Success

There are certain laws that when obeyed will bring great... Read More

Jim Rohns Eleventh Pillar of Success: Accelerated Learning, Part One - You Are a Genius

Hi, Jim Rohn here. This month we focus on accelerating... Read More

Belief Helps You Succeed But Can It Win A Boat Race?

On March 27th 2005, Oxford won the annual boat race... Read More

Why the Elephants Dont Run

A number of years ago, I had the rather unique... Read More

Reaping a Multiple Reward

For every disciplined effort, there are multiple rewards. That's one... Read More

What Are the Nine Bodyparts of a Better Life?

Your Head, think about what you want and move towards... Read More

How to Have an Amazingly Satisfying Year

I started taking stock of my year in 2002. I... Read More

Success Without Whining About Doing Your Best

In the film 'The Rock', Sean Connery takes a dim... Read More

Visualize Your Way to Success

Human beings are visual creatures. Our imaginations are powerful tools... Read More

A Vision for Success

Do you know that there is a formula for attaining... Read More

High Energy Performance

One of the hallmarks of all successful and high achieving... Read More

Three Key Behaviors That Determine Our Success

Success is a journey and along the way we need... Read More

12 Tips to Network Your Way to Success

Lots of people network but few reap the rewards of... Read More

Creating Your Own Success Support System

People who are on the same journey tend to band... Read More

Your 12 Point Plan for Personal Success

No one becomes successful by accident. Success requires making a... Read More

Become a Dreamer!

Cool Facts: Walt Disney went bankrupt several times before he... Read More

The Human Instincts

The gambling instinct is in every man or woman. All... Read More

Magical Houseplants

Whenever I'm feeling stuck in a rut, I go out... Read More

Maximizing Your Potential: Using Your Brain to Think

The Chicago Times once printed that Henry Ford was an... Read More