Back to the Basics

The rule of Sharpen the Saw[i] is simple – when chopping down a tree, you have to stop sometimes to sharpen the blade. Taking the time to do so actually accomplishes the job quicker. The challenge is to discipline ourselves to stop and actually do it, understanding and believing that we’ll be more productive for having done so.

In a world of high speed communication and technology it is easy to get caught up in a search for the newest, latest and greatest idea. However, like sharpening the saw, every so often it’s good to stop, catch your breath and go back to the basics.

Here are three very elementary, yet often forgotten basics:


Think about the amount of time you do the talking? Talking to your customers, to your co-workers, talking to prospective clients, talking to your family, your spouse, your kids? Now, what percentage of time are you allowing them to talk, uninterrupted, while you just listening? By the way, you can’t listen 100% while looking at your iPhone, the computer screen, tablet or the TV.

If there’s one thing Social Media has surely taught us it is that people want to be heard. When a thought comes to mind instead of merely sharing it with the nearest person now I can blog, tweet, comment, and post a status update. Technology allows us to share, but we still want to be listened to, validated and feel we’ve been heard.

Listen more. Talk Less.


Learning involves understanding. Often understanding what is meant despite what is said. Learn from clients, customers, co-workers, friends or family. Find out what motivates, what excites, what fuels drive and passion, learn goals and long-term objectives. Learn what concerns there are, what help could be lent, and what needs exist. Sometimes after listening and learning, there’s no more to do. That might be enough. Other times you have something of value that can truly be of benefit. Offer help if you have real solutions. Be open and honest when you don’t.

Learning is about connecting with others.


Don’t wait around – Too often people are looking to see what everyone else is doing. Take a chance. Don’t be afraid to fail instead be afraid to have never tried in the first place. Having an official title at work doesn’t automatically make you’re a leader; likewise no formal title is require for you to lead others and show leadership qualities. Leading should be fun, selfless and with a purpose of helping.

Leading is doing.

So Now What…  

Well you read my blog which is a form of listening to me. Thank you, I really do appreciate it.

I am passionate about all things Brazil; I love the people, the language and the culture. At some point in my career I hope to work in an international role helping US companies do business in Brazil or helping Brazilian companies do business in the US. For readers who don’t personally know me, you’ve now learned something.

Finally, lead – well, you’re on your own there. That one is up to you!



Random last thought: When is the last time you literally chopped down a tree? The feel of the axe in hand, splitters flying from the trunk of the tree and watching it come crashing to the ground. Christmas is approaching. Ditch the overpriced tree lots; buy an inexpensive permit and go chop down a tree; it’ll be totally worth the experience.


[i] Coined by write Stephen R Covey


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