HomeNewsArticle Display

Commentary - Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Sharpen the Saw

Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. -- Editor's Note: This is the seventh story in a seven-part series on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The next class being offered is Nov. 18 - 20. by the Airman and Family Readiness Center.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." How many people have heard this terminology before? I'd like to offer another perspective -- preventative maintenance, that is, planned maintenance actions to prevent breakdowns and failures. This idea is explained in the final habit in the series, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a learning workshop offered by the Airman and Family Readiness Center.

Sharpen the saw. This final habit is all about keeping habits one through six together and always becoming more effective. To reach this point we need to actively engage in the previous habits, being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, putting first things first, thinking win-win, seeking first to understand, then to be understood and lastly, synergizing. The first three habits are internal habits we must develop, looking inwards and becoming more effective individually. Once we've adopted those skills, we are able to move forward to the next three habits, the habits of human interaction. We must first become accustomed to the behaviors before we can expect them in someone else.

Author Robert M. Pirsig understood the process perfectly when he wrote, "The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then to work outward from there."

To maintain and boost effectiveness, we must renew ourselves in body, heart, mind and soul. I refer to this process as preventative maintenance.

Preventative maintenance is a common concept when it comes to vehicles. If we don't change the oil every three months eventually the car will malfunction or break down. If we don't stay up with tune-ups it's more likely that unexpected, nasty or expensive problems will arise with our cars. The vehicle might get us from point A to point B sometimes, but for the car to truly serve its purpose, it needs to work all the time. It's the same idea for us. If we don't keep up with our own preventative maintenance, how can we fully prosper?

The seminar teaches how important it is for us to consistently renew in the physical, social, emotional, spiritual and mental dimensions. This method of preventative maintenance is vital in understanding that to carry on growing and developing any of the habits, we must remain active in the pursuit of them, or take time to sharpen the saw.

It is great to focus on a goal and do whatever it takes to get there. However, it is vital to use our peripheral vision and look around us to see what we could be missing by always looking straight ahead, centering on our goal. It is when we reflect, examining ourselves and our relationships and our ability to influence and grow, we can begin the journey of becoming effective.

For more information on self-renewal or the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People seminar, please contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center at (720) 847-6681.
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.