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How to Sharpen your Saw in Our Day and Age

How long has it been since you have done something for your own personal development?

You may be able to relate with the days that fly by and the weeks that seem like a blur. We focus on catching the train on time, eating the right breakfast, delivering projects by the deadline and picking the kids up from school but how often do we focus on what we are learning as individuals?

I can recall a time in my working career when I felt busier than I had ever been. I had multiple projects running at the same time and was making quick decisions to ‘get the work done’. This resulted in often having to backtrack, experiencing high stress when things weren’t going right and on reflection, working ‘fast’ but not ‘smart’. This experience ignited my passion for taking the time to ‘stop’, ‘think of the best way to do something’ and most importantly no matter how busy you are, to ‘Sharpen the Saw’.

If you haven’t heard of Stephen Covey’s ‘Sharpen the Saw’ story you may be wondering what the heck I am talking about.

“Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have--you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.” (Covey, 1989).

In the learning and development industry, our job is to enable others to learn and keep their skills up to date. In my opinion if we are expecting this from others then it makes perfect sense for us to do the same ourselves. If we look after ourselves, we are more able to help others. When I reflect on my ‘busy’ period where every day felt like a blur and a sense of achievement was far beyond the horizon, I think about how differently I would have approached it with what I know now.

I want to share with you how you can make a conscious effort to 'Sharpen your Saw' through a range of platforms and avenues. You may be busy, but I want you to consider how 'Sharpening your Saw' could free up some of your time rather than take it from you.

A good way to look at this is a person managing a project that is on a tight deadline and has a range of complexities. The person has not studied project management and is just doing everything that they can to keep the project running (because there is no time to stop and think about it carefully right?). The person could:

A) Continue to work quickly to ensure the project keeps to its timeline and along the way correct errors that are made (creating an ever-increasing workload).


B) Stop and seek project management support either through a book/video/mentor to figure out the best way to manage the project. Whilst this may take some time initially, in the long run the project is likely to run a lot more smoothly and there is less likely to be a build up of errors to correct.

Currently there are multiple platforms that can support you in ‘Sharpening your Saw’. Let’s check them out!

(Moore, 2017).

When we start a new project at Belvista Studios we often select a book that may help us tackle the project with a different perspective. I used this book, ‘Map It – The Hands-on Guide to Strategic Training Design’ by Cathy Moore when creating storyboards for a client. The outcome of the storyboards was significantly better compared to previous projects. We now use this book as inspiration for all of our projects.

Find a book that is relevant to your industry, that you think will inspire you or that you can refer to/follow when working on a project as inspiration. Try to make a commitment to read at least a couple of pages every day. You may pick up little learnings along the way or even gain a whole new perspective by the end of it.

(AskGaryVee, 2018).

YouTube is an amazing place for development. Anything you want to learn can be found on YouTube. You can type in your industry or keywords relevant to your work and see what comes up. You may find inspirational figures in your industry, new and exciting processes, trends and overall a range of videos of all types to inspire you.

An example of how we use YouTube is if we need to solve a problem. If I am developing a module in a program and I am having trouble with a certain part of the task, I type in what I am trying to do in YouTube and ‘ta-dah’, there will generally be a tutorial by someone out there in the world who will guide me through exactly how to achieve what I am trying to do.

At Belvista Studios, we also spend time listening to inspirational people in our industry on YouTube to ensure that we are keeping up with trends and consistently gaining new perspectives on how we can be the best version of ourselves, individually and as a business.

(Tony Robbins, 2018).

Find someone who will inspire you and keep you up to date with your professional and personal development. This can be a well-known figure or even someone who you know such as your colleague or a mentor.

An example for us at Belvista Studios is Gary Vaynerchuck. Gary is a serial entrepreneur who motivates and inspires people all around the world with his advice and enthusiasm through quotes, videos, podcasts and speeches at various events. We find that by listening to him daily we can keep up-to-date with market trends and maintain motivation and inspiration.

If there is time in your day when you are on the train or driving, why not listen to a podcast? There are so many people out there who are sharing their knowledge and expertise through podcasts and you never know what you might learn.

Attending co-working events is a great way to meet people in the industry who you can learn from and collaborate with.

At Belvista Studios we are committed to attending co-working events as it allows us to meet awesome people in the industry and learn from a range of different people.

Here are some tips on finding co-working events in your area:

1) Search your industry along with your location on google with keywords such as meet-up, networking and event.

2) Download the meet-up app and filter sessions for your industry. This is an app that will show you a range of groups that bring people together with similar passions.

Have a look at your connections on social media. They will often advertise events that they enjoy and may also run some themselves.

There are so many courses out there that don’t cost you an arm and a leg. There are also so many options for free courses online.

On your web browser search what you are interested in and see what comes up. There are many courses online that allow you to learn alongside peers and work on projects together. We are extremely fortunate with how far society has come with technology and this in turn can create very flexible and on-the-go learning.

At Belvista Studios we put content out on Instagram, Youtube and Linkedin to challenge ourselves to learn and be accountable to the world. This means that we are applying what we learn by sharing it. It can be scary to do this at first but it speeds up learning because the world is watching and wants more!

We also run our own meetups in Australia and London which results in us needing to learn consistently and keep accountable. We come up with different topics for each session and this means that we commit to learn and be prepared to share what we know with our community.

When you learn something new, have a go at sharing what you know through either a blog, video, post or over a coffee catch-up with an industry friend. By teaching others you will maintain the learnings yourself and it will put a good amount of pressure on yourself to continue to learn and retain the information so that you can share it with others.

What has been the best resource/learning for you in your personal development journey? Is it a blog, videos or face-to-face sessions? We would love to hear what works for you. I hope that this blog adds value to you and that it inspires you to learn something new. If you make learning a habit, your knowledge increases, your enthusiasm builds and your confidence in your work grows. Happy learning and when you feel like everyday is a whirlwind of tasks, stop, take a step back and ‘Sharpen the Saw’. You will thank yourself for it later!


Covey, S. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. United States: Free Press.

Moore, C. (2017). Map It : The Hands on Guide to Strategic Training Design. Montesa Press.

Vaynerchuck, G. [Ask Gary Vee]. (2018, March 22). Danny Meyer, Creating Shake Shack, & Becoming an All-Time Great Restauranteur | #AskGaryVee 280 [Video File]. Retrieved from

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