What have you learnt today? How do you keep your mental saw sharp?
Two lumberjacks were in a contest to see who could cut down the most trees in a day. One of the contestants was determined to win. As he worked he listened to his competitor – at the end of the first hour he heard him stop sawing, everything was quiet for 10 minutes and then the sawing started up again. This happened every hour on the hour – his opponent would stop sawing for 10 minutes. This spurred him on and he worked non stop for the whole day. At the end of the day he was convinced he must have won, he hadn’t stopped sawing all day. Imagine his surprise when the final tally was made and he discovered he had lost. He asked his opponent how he had managed this when every hour he stopped for a 10 minute rest, the reply was, “I wasn’t stopping to rest, I was stopping to sharpen my saw.”
So, how often do you sharpen your saw & how do you do it? When I was working I would often ask this question of my fellow primary school head teachers – most of them would say that they did not have time.
My favourite ways of keeping my saw sharp were, and still are:
- Reading – I love reading and wandering around bookshops. I enjoy reading crime thrillers, science fiction, management books, books about leadership, about learning self-help books …….. My friends and colleagues thought I had strange tastes in reading! As I look at my bookshelves four of my favourite books stand out – ‘Slow’ by Carl Honore; ‘The Big Picture – Education Is Everyone’s Business’ by Dennis Littky; ‘Presentation Zen’ by Garr Reynolds; ‘Tribes’ by Seth Godin …… the list could go on.
- Listening to Podcasts – there are some great ones out there. One of the joys of being retired is being able to go on long walks listening to different podcasts on my iPod Touch. Some of my favourites at the moment – ‘The iPad Show’– I can’t wait to get my iPad; ‘The Moth’ – a chance to listen to some great stories; ‘Twooting’ – how business use Twitter.
- Reading Some Great Blogs & Following Links – I love finding a great blog & then checking out the blogs that that person follows. A couple of my favourites – A Brave New World – Tania Sheko; ‘Presentation Zen’ – Garr Reynolds
- Watching Videos – I love using YouTube as a search engine – you never know what you are going to come across. For some truly inspirational videos try out ‘TED’ – my favourite video is by Sir Ken Robinson – ‘Schools Are Killiing Creativity’
- Reading Magazines – as well as my regular reads, which tend to be either writing mags or ones about technology, now and again I like to choose something that I would not normally pick up – just to check that I’m not missing something important.
As a head teacher I would often hear parents, at the end of the school day, say to their child, “So what have you learnt today?” When was the last time someone asked you that question? So what have you learnt today, this week, this month?