Yesterday I read an old story of a woodcutter published in Financial Times by Andy Brophy, I thought of sharing as it’s very relevant in all situations.
A young man approached the foreman of a logging crew and asked for a job. ‘That depends,’ replied the foreman. ‘Let’s see you chop down this tree.’ The young man stepped forward and skillfully chopped down a great tree. Impressed, the foreman exclaimed, ‘You can start on Monday.’ Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday rolled by – and Thursday afternoon the foreman approached the young man and said, ‘You can pick up your pay check on the way out today.’ Startled, the young man replied, ‘I thought you paid on Friday.’ ‘Normally we do,’ said the foreman. ‘But we’re letting you go today because you’ve fallen behind. Our daily felling charts show that you’ve dropped from first place on Monday to last place today.’ ‘But I’m a hard worker,’ the young man objected. ‘I arrive first, leave last and even have worked through my coffee breaks!’ The foreman, sensing the young man’s integrity, thought for a minute and then asked, ‘Have you been sharpening your saw?’ The young man replied, ‘No sir, I’ve been working too hard to take time for that!’
Most of the companies don’t fire employees like that, some do, but that’s not the focus of this example. Professionals acquire skills, get very good at it which helps them land the job of their dream, but slowly they start falling behind their peers. New hires with new skills tend to overshadow them and that’s because they fail to realize their skills are not as relevant anymore.
You would often see articles like 101 jobs that will not exist in 2050 or 99 jobs we will be doing in 2030. They all address the same thing – skills that are relevant and highly valued today, may become obsolete in future. Keep learning. Keep sharpening your skills and acquire new skills because that’s the only way to stay relevant in future. Taking from the example above, no matter how hard you work, if you don’t sharpen your saw, others will take over.
Do you see this in your workplace? I would love to hear from you.