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In a well written essay, address the following questions: (250 words)- Out of the Four Dimensions of Renewal, which one do you think you need to work on the most? Why?- What steps will you take this week to provide for some renewal in that dimension of your life?

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Part Four — RENEWAL
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw TM
Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal
Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things…. I
am tempted to think…there are no little things.
— Bruce Barton
Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down
a tree.
“What are you doing?” you ask.
“Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply. “I’m sawing down this tree.”
“You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?”
“Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat! This is hard work.”
“Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen the saw?” you inquire.
“I’m sure it would go a lot faster.”
“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”
Habit 7 is taking time to Sharpen the Saw. It surrounds the other habits on the Seven
Habits paradigm because it is the habit that makes all the others possible.
Four Dimensions of Renewal
Habit 7 is personal PC. It’s preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have — you.
It’s renewing the four dimensions of your nature — physical, spiritual, mental, and
Although different words are used, most philosophies of life deal either explicitly or
implicitly with these four dimensions. Philosopher Herb Shepherd describes the healthy
balanced life around four values: perspective (spiritual), autonomy (mental),
connectedness (social), and tone (physical). George Sheehan, the running guru, describes
four roles: being a good animal (physical), a good craftsman (mental), a good friend
(social), and a saint (spiritual). Sound motivation and organization theory embrace these
four dimensions or motivations — the economic (physical); how people are treated
(social); how people are developed and used (mental); and the service, the job, the
contribution the organization gives (spiritual).
“Sharpen the Saw” basically means expressing all four motivations. It means exercising
all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently, in wise and balanced ways.
To do this, we must be proactive. Taking time to sharpen the saw is a definite Quadrant II
activity, and Quadrant II must be acted on. Quadrant I, because of its urgency, acts on us;
it presses upon us constantly. Personal PC must be pressed upon until it becomes second
nature, until it becomes a kind of healthy addiction. Because it’s at the center of our Circle
of Influence, no one else can do it for us. We must do it for ourselves.
This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life — investment in
ourselves, in the only instrument we have with which to deal with life and to contribute.
We are the instruments of our own performance, and to be effective, we need to
recognize the importance of taking time regularly to sharpen the saw in all four ways.
The Physical Dimension
The physical dimension involves caring effectively for our physical body — eating the
right kinds of foods, getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and exercising on a regular
Exercise is one of those Quadrant II, high-leverage activities that most of us don’t do
consistently because it isn’t urgent. And because we don’t do it, sooner or later we find
ourselves in Quadrant I, dealing with the health problems and crises that come as a
natural result of our neglect.
Most of us think we don’t have enough time to exercise. What a distorted paradigm! We
don’t have time not to. We’re talking about three to six hours a week — or a minimum of
thirty minutes a day, every other day. That hardly seems an inordinate amount of time
considering the tremendous benefits in terms of the impact on the other 162-165 hours of
the week.
And you don’t need any special equipment to do it. If you want to go to a gym or a spa to
use the equipment or enjoy some skill sports such as tennis or racquetball, that’s an
added opportunity. But it isn’t necessary to sharpen the saw.
A good exercise program is one that you can do in your own home and one that will
build your body in three areas: endurance, flexibility, and strength.
Endurance comes from aerobic exercise, from cardiovascular efficiency — the ability of
your heart to pump blood through your body.
Although the heart is a muscle, it cannot be exercised directly. It can only be exercised
through the large muscle groups, particularly the leg muscles. That’s why exercises like
rapid walking, running, biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, and jogging are so
You are considered minimally fit if you can increase your heart rate to at least 100 beats
per minute and keep it at that level for 30 minutes.
Ideally you should try to raise your heart rate to at least 60 percent of your maximum
pulse rate, the top speed your heart can beat and still pump blood through your body.
Your maximum heart rate is generally accepted to be 220 less your age. So, if you are 40,
you should aim for an exercise heart rate of 108 (220 – 40 = 180 x .6 = 108). The “training
effect” is generally considered to be between 72 and 87 percent of your personal
maximum rate.
Flexibility comes through stretching. Most experts recommend warming up before and
cooling down/stretching after aerobic exercise. Before, it helps loosen and warm the
muscles to prepare for more vigorous exercise. After, it helps to dissipate the lactic acid
so that you don’t feel sore and stiff.
Strength comes from muscle resistance exercises — like simple calisthenics, push-ups, and
sit-ups, and from working with weights. How much emphasis you put on developing
strength depends on your situation. If you’re involved in physical labor or athletic
activities, increased strength will improve your skill. If you have a basically sedentary job
and success in your life-style does not require a lot of strength, a little toning through
calisthenics in addition to your aerobic and stretching exercises might be sufficient.
I was in a gym one time with a friend of mine who has a Ph. D. in exercise physiology. He
was focusing on building strength. He asked me to “spot” him while he did some bench
presses and told me at a certain point he’d ask me to take the weight. “But don’t take it
until I tell you,” he said firmly.
So I watched and waited and prepared to take the weight. The weight went up and
down, up and down. And I could see it begin to get harder. But he kept going. He would
start to push it up and I’d think, “There’s no way he’s going to make it.” But he’d make it.
Then he’d slowly bring it back down and start back up again. Up and down, up and
Finally, as I looked at his face, straining with the effort, his blood vessels practically
jumping out of his skin, I thought, “This is going to fall and collapse his chest. Maybe I
should take the weight. Maybe he’s lost control and he doesn’t even know what he’s
doing.” But he’d get it safely down. Then he’d start back up again. I couldn’t believe it”
“Almost all the benefit of the exercise comes at the very end, Stephen,” he replied. “I’m
trying to build strength. And that doesn’t happen until the muscle fiber ruptures and the
nerve fiber registers the pain. Then nature overcompensates and within 48 hours, the
fiber is made stronger.”
I could see his point. It’s the same principle that works with emotional muscles as well,
such as patience. When you exercise your patience beyond your past limits, the emotional
fiber is broken, nature overcompensates, and next time the fiber is stronger.
Now my friend wanted to build muscular strength. And he knew how to do it. But not all
of us need to develop that kind of strength to be effective. “No pain, no gain” has validity
in some circumstances, but it is not the essence of an effective exercise program.
The essence of renewing the physical dimension is to sharpen the saw, to exercise our
bodies on a regular basis in a way that will preserve and enhance our capacity to work
and adapt and enjoy.
And we need to be wise in developing an exercise program. There’s a tendency,
especially if you haven’t been exercising at all, to overdo. And that can create unnecessary
pain, injury, and even permanent damage. It’s best to start slowly. Any exercise program
should be in harmony with the latest research findings, with your doctor’s
recommendations and with your own self-awareness.
If you haven’t been exercising, your body will undoubtedly protest this change in its
comfortable downhill direction. You won’t like it at first. You may even hate it. But be
proactive. Do it anyway. Even if it’s raining on the morning you’ve scheduled to jog, do it
anyway. “Oh good! It’s raining! I get to develop my willpower as well as my body!”
You’re not dealing with quick fix; you’re dealing with a Quadrant II activity that will
bring phenomenal long-term results. Ask anyone who has done it consistently. Little by
little, your resting pulse rate will go down as your heart and oxygen processing system
becomes more efficient. As you increase your body’s ability to do more demanding
things, you’ll find your normal activities much more comfortable and pleasant. You’ll
have more afternoon energy, and the fatigue you’ve felt that’s made you “too tired” to
exercise in the past will be replaced by an energy that will invigorate everything you do.
Probably the greatest benefit you will experience from exercising will be the development
of your Habit 1 muscles of proactivity. As you act based on the value of physical wellbeing instead of reacting to all the forces that keep you from exercising, your paradigm of
yourself, your self-esteem, your self-confidence, and your integrity will be profoundly
The Spiritual Dimension
Renewing the spiritual dimension provides leadership to your life. It’s highly related to
Habit 2.
The spiritual dimension is your core, your center, your commitment to your value
system. It’s a very private area of life and a supremely important one. It draws upon the
sources that inspire and uplift you and tie you to the timeless truths of all humanity. And
people do it very, very differently.
I find renewal in daily prayerful meditation on the scriptures because they represent my
value system. As I read and meditate, I feel renewed, strengthened, centered, and
recommitted to serve.
Immersion in great literature or great music can provide a similar renewal of the spirit for
some. There are others who find it in the way they communicate with nature. Nature
bequeaths its own blessing on those who immerse themselves in it. When you’re able to
leave the noise and the discord of the city and give yourself up to the harmony and
rhythm of nature, you come back renewed. For a time, you’re undisturbable, almost
unflappable, until gradually the noise and the discord from outside start to invade that
sense of inner peace.
Arthur Gordon shares a wonderful, intimate story of his own spiritual renewal in a little
story called “The Turn of the Tide.” It tells of a time in his life when he began to feel that
everything was stale and flat. His enthusiasm waned; his writing efforts were fruitless.
And the situation was growing worse day by day.
Finally, he determined to get help from a medical doctor. Observing nothing physically
wrong, the doctor asked him if he would be able to follow his instructions for one day.
When Gordon replied that he could, the doctor told him to spend the following day in the
place where he was happiest as a child. He could take food, but he was not to talk to
anyone or to read or write or listen to the radio. He then wrote out four prescriptions and
told him to open one at nine, twelve, three, and six o’clock.
“Are you serious?” Gordon asked him.
“You won’t think I’m joking when you get my bill!” was the reply.
So the next morning, Gordon went to the beach. As he opened the first prescription, he
read “Listen carefully.” He thought the doctor was insane. How could he listen for three
hours? But he had agreed to follow the doctor’s orders, so he listened. He heard the usual
sounds of the sea and the birds. After a while, he could hear the other sounds that weren’t
so apparent at first. As he listened, he began to think of lessons the sea had taught him as
a child — patience, respect, an awareness of the interdependence of things. He began to
listen to the sounds — and the silence — and to feel a growing peace.
At noon, he opened the second slip of paper and read “Try reaching back.” “Reaching
back to what?” he wondered. Perhaps to childhood, perhaps to memories of happy times.
He thought about his past, about the many little moments of joy. He tried to remember
them with exactness. And in remembering, he found a growing warmth inside.
At three o’clock, he opened the third piece of paper. Until now, the prescriptions had
been easy to take. But this one was different; it said “Examine your motives.” At first he
was defensive. He thought about what he wanted — success, recognition, security, and he
justified them all. But then the thought occurred to him that those motives weren’t good
enough, and that perhaps therein was the answer to his stagnant situation.
He considered his motives deeply. He thought about past happiness. And at last, the
answer came to him.
“In a flash of certainty,” he wrote, “I saw that if one’s motives are wrong, nothing can be
right. It makes no difference whether you are a mailman, a hairdresser, an insurance
salesman, a housewife — whatever. As long as you feel you are serving others, you do the
job well. When you are concerned only with helping yourself, you do it less well — a law
as inexorable as gravity.”
When six o’clock came, the final prescription didn’t take long to fill. “Write your worries
on the sand,” it said. He knelt and wrote several words with a piece of broken shell; then
he turned and walked away. He didn’t look back; he knew the tide would come in.
Spiritual renewal takes an investment of time. But it’s a Quadrant II activity we don’t
really have time to neglect.
The great reformer Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “I have so much to do today, I’ll
need to spend another hour on my knees.” To him, prayer was not a mechanical duty but
rather a source of power in releasing and multiplying his energies.
Someone once inquired of a Far Eastern Zen master, who had a great serenity and peace
about him no matter what pressures he faced, “How do you maintain that serenity and
peace?” He replied, “I never leave my place of meditation.” He meditated early in the
morning and for the rest of the day, he carried the peace of those moments with him in
his mind and heart.
The idea is that when we take time to draw on the leadership center of our lives, what life
is ultimately all about, it spreads like an umbrella over everything else. It renews us, it
refreshes us, particularly if we recommit to it.
This is why I believe a personal mission statement is so important. If we have a deep
understanding of our center and our purpose, we can review and recommit to it
frequently. In our daily spiritual renewal, we can visualize and “live out” the events of the
day in harmony with those values.
Religious leader David O. McKay taught, “The greatest battles of life are fought out daily
in the silent chambers of the soul.” If you win the battles there, if you settle the issues that
inwardly conflict, you feel a sense of peace, a sense of knowing what you’re about. And
you’ll find that the Public Victories — where you tend to think cooperatively, to promote
the welfare and good of other people, and to be genuinely happy for other people’s
successes — will follow naturally.
The Mental Dimension
Most of our mental development and study discipline comes through formal education.
But as soon as we leave the external discipline of school, many of us let our minds
atrophy. We don’t do any more serious reading, we don’t explore new subjects in any real
depth outside our action fields, we don’t think analytically, we don’t write — at least not
critically or in a way that tests our ability to express ourselves in distilled, clear, and
concise language. Instead, we spend our time watching TV.
Continuing surveys indicate that television is on in most homes some 35 to 45 hours a
week. That’s as much time as many people put into their jobs, more than most put into
school. It’s the most powerful socializing influence there is. And when we watch, we’re
subject to all the values that are being taught through it. That can powerfully influence us
in very subtle and imperceptible ways.
Wisdom in watching television requires the effective self-management of Habit 3, which
enables you to discriminate and to select the informing, inspiring, and entertaining
programs which best serve and express your purpose and values.
In our family, we limit television watching to around seven hours a week, an average of
about an hour a day. We had a family council at which we talked about it and looked at
some of the data regarding what’s happening in homes because of television. We found
that by discussing it as a family when no one was defensive or argumentative, people
started to realize the dependent sickness of becoming addicted to soap operas or to a
steady diet of a particular program.
I’m grateful for television and for the many high-quality educational and entertainment
programs. They can enrich our lives and contribute meaningfully to our purposes and
goals. But there are many programs that simply waste our time and minds and many that
influence us in negative ways if we let them. Like the body, television is a good servant
but a poor master. We need to practice Habit 3 and manage ourselves effectively to
maximize the use of any resource in accomplishing our missions.
Education — continuing education, continually honing and expanding the mind — is vital
mental renewal. Sometimes that involves the external discipline of the classroom or
systematized study programs; more often it does not. Proactive people can figure out
many, many ways to educate themselves.
It is extremely valuable to train the mind to stand apart and examine its own program.
That, to me, is the definition of a liberal education — the ability to examine the programs
of life against larger questions and purposes and other paradigms. Training, without such
education, narrows and closes the mind so that the assumptions underlying the training
are never examined. That’s why it is so valuable to read broadly and to expose yourself to
great minds.
There’s no better way to inform and expand your mind on a regular basis than to get into
the habit of reading good literature. That’s another high-leverage Quadrant II activity.
You can get into the best minds that are now or that have ever been in the world. I highly
recommend starting with a goal of a book a month then a book every two weeks, then a
book a week. “The person who doesn’t read is no better off than the person who can’t
Quality literature, such as the Great Books, the Harvard Classics, autobiographies,
National Geographic and other publications that expand our cultural awareness, and
current literature in various fields can expand our paradigms and sharpen our mental
saw, particularly if we practice Habit 5 as we read and seek first to understand. If we use
our own autobiography to make early judgments before we really understand what an
author has to say, we limit the benefits of the reading experience.
Writing is another powerful way to sharpen the mental saw. Keeping a journal of our
thoughts, experiences, insights, and learnings promotes mental clarity, exactness, and
context. Writing good letters — communicating on the deeper level of thoughts, feelings,
and ideas rather than on the shallow, superficial level of events — also affects our ability
to think clearly, to reason accurately, and to be understood effectively.
Organizing and planning represent other forms of mental renewal associated with Habits
2 and 3. It’s beginning with the end in mind a …
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