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Jul 2nd, 2013 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

The tale of two lumberjacks

My good friend Daniel Epstein, co-founder of the Unreasonable Institute, recently told me the following story (which in turn was told to him by Jeff Hoffman):

Once there were two lumberjacks. They both were the strongest and best lumberjacks one could find. One day they decided to find out whom of them was the stronger lumberjack. So they went into a competition to whack as much wood as they could for 24 hours. The first lumberjack, let’s call him Pete, went to work and whacked and whacked for 24 hours straight. He never took a break and he was so strong that he didn’t slow down the slightest. The other lumberjack, let’s give him the name Joe, whacked with full force for two hours and then took a break for 15 minutes. He then went to work for another two hours before he took his next break. Joe repeated the cycle until the time was up.

When the time came to measure how much wood each of them hacked in those grueling 24 hours — Joe won.

Pete, visibly confused, asked Joe: How comes that you win if we are both equally as strong as each other and I worked 24 hours straight whereas you took a break every two hours?

Joe calmly responded: From time to time you have to take a break to sharpen the axe.

When was the last time you took a break, put some space between yourself and your startup (or whatever else you’re working on) and sharpened your axe?

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