Sharpening the saw for 2014

SimonThinking4 Comments

If you’ve read Stephen Covey‘s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” you’ll be familiar with habit 7 – sharpening the saw.

In this excerpt he explains what sharpening the saw is all about:

It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.

As you renew yourself in each of the four areas, you create growth and change in your life. Sharpen the Saw keeps you fresh so you can continue to practice the other six habits. You increase your capacity to produce and handle the challenges around you. Without this renewal, the body becomes weak, the mind mechanical, the emotions raw, the spirit insensitive, and the person selfish….

Feeling good doesn’t just happen. Living a life in balance means taking the necessary time to renew yourself. It’s all up to you. You can renew yourself through relaxation. Or you can totally burn yourself out by overdoing everything. You can pamper yourself mentally and spiritually. Or you can go through life oblivious to your well-being. You can experience vibrant energy. Or you can procrastinate and miss out on the benefits of good health and exercise. You can revitalize yourself and face a new day in peace and harmony. Or you can wake up in the morning full of apathy because your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone. Just remember that every day provides a new opportunity for renewal–a new opportunity to recharge yourself instead of hitting the wall. All it takes is the desire, knowledge, and skill.

As part of my “sharpening” a year ago I made a commitment to do at least fifteen minutes of exercise every single day. I kept it up for just over six months and felt much better for it. Since then I’ve lapsed a bit, but I’m going to see if I can beat my record this year. The MapMyTracks one-a-day challenge for 2014 is a great way to kick this off.

The other area I’m working on as I find it stimulating and rewarding is about learning. I’ve been eyeing up massive open online courses (MOOCs) for a while now, but have always managed to find an excuse why I can’t learn some new stuff on a course or two.

But now I’ve bitten the bullet and made a commitment to myself to do some learning on some areas that personally interest me. Over the next couple of months I’m going to be studying:

Social and Economic Networks: Models and Analysis – with Stanford University
I’ll be learning about how to model social and economic networks and their impact on human behaviour. This includes looking at how networks form, why they exhibit certain patterns, and how does their structure impact diffusion, learning, and other behaviours? The course brings together models and techniques from economics, sociology, maths, physics, statistics and computer science to answer these questions – something that I’ll find really interesting and helpful to my work too.

Innovation for Powerful Outcomes – with Swinburne University
Innovation involves transformative thinking and the genuine ability to cultivate and pick the lucrative fruits of our creative labour. This course is about developing an appreciation for a range of tools and concepts that can help make innovation happen. It contains a stimulating mix of creative experiments, intriguing innovation examples, practical tools and robust concepts. These will help induce creativity, gain deep customer insights, and develop an appreciation for creating a compelling innovation strategy.

I’ve carved out the time each week to meet this learning commitment and can’t wait to get started. Who knows where this approach to “sharpening” might take me in 2014?

So what’s your commitment to sharpening the saw this year?

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