Simon was a diligent son, but not that bright. Eventually his mother became exasperated with him lying around the house and urged him to get a job. Now Simon was good at one thing: chopping down trees. So, off he went, his axe over his shoulder, in search of work.
Soon he came upon a clearing in which logging was being carried out. (Readers of a nervous disposition should be reassured that this logging was a fully sustainable and environmentally ethical operation.)
He marched up to the supervisor and asked if there was any work available. “Well it depends how good you are. Chop down that tree and I’ll see.”
Simon enthusiastically set about the task and completed it to the supervisor’s satisfaction.
“You’re hired. Start right away”, he said.
And Simon started work, applying himself with a commendable zeal. It was Monday afternoon, and the day soon passed. As did the following few days.
On Friday afternoon, Simon happened to see the supervisor. “I’m glad I’ve found you” the supervisor said. “Please collect your cards and leave, your services are no longer wanted.”
Simon was flabbergasted! “How come? I am your most productive worker. And now you’re rewarding me by sacking me!”
“Well, it’s true you were the most productive worker on Tuesday. But by Thursday you had sunk to the least productive. And you’re doing even less well today.”
“But I start early and finish last. I work through lunch. I spend all my time chopping down your trees.”
“I agree”, replied the supervisor, “but how much time do you spend sharpening your axe?”
We’ve been asked to provide a commentary on this story. The trouble with these Zen stories is that they are supposed to prompt the reader to their own thoughts and musings.
So, before reading our take on this, below, how might this story be relevant to business situations?
Concentrating on fulfilling clients’ needs at the expense of your personal development is only successful in the short term. In the medium term, failing to keep your skills up to date and to stay aware of where your local business community or profession is moving will slow your business down.