Flying to California is uncomfortable. It's not just the six hour flight squinched up in coach, however. It's the time difference. It's leaving the comforts of home, leaving my husband for ten days, and leaving the expected behind. 

So why did I leave on January 31st to fly to Scott's Valley?

To sharpen my saw.

Habit #7 in Steve Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is called “Sharpen the Saw.”  Covey uses the analogy of a woodcutter who is sawing for several days straight and is becoming less and less productive. The process of cutting dulls the blade. So the solution is to periodically sharpen the saw.

I got myself uncomfortable so I could grow. I flew to San Francisco and then drove to Scott's Valley to take a workshop from an amazing woman named Martha Beck. Since starting my business as a writing coach and publisher, I've been working non-stop.  It's been great but without a break, my saw was more like a butter knife. Or a flimsy plastic picnic knife.

At 1440 Multiversity, the place in Scott's Valley where the workshop was held, there is a sign that reads...

"This bright, new day...complete with 24 hours of opportunities, choices, and attitudes. A perfectly matched set of 1440 minutes. This unique gift, this one day, cannot be exchanged, replaced or refunded. Handle with care. Make the most of it. There is only 1 to a customer."

We have 1440 opportunities every day to sharpen our proverbial saws.  We don't have to fly to California to make this happen (although I do recommend it...LOL) We have decisions we make every day, every minute of every day, to decide if we are moving to the place where we want to be, or if we are moving further away.

During the workshop with Martha Beck called "Navigating the Storm," we poured out our hearts and souls to one another.  We chose to share stories that have haunted us for decades in order to live in integrity.  All of us in that workshop made a choice to spend our precious minutes giving ourselves a break from "normal" life and giving ourselves a gift of reflection. I feel stronger than ever that I am on the right course for my career and personal life.  But without this weekend of reflection, I might have felt I was drifting away from it.

Some other lessons I learned from Scott's Valley came from walking among the redwood trees on the 1440 campus. The woods are breathtakingly beautiful. Down one trail at 1440, you come to a huge tree that is larger than all of the others.  This tree is called the Mother Tree because it is the tree that created all of the other redwoods in that area.  It is over 15 feet in diameter.  The Mother Tree has been on this earth for 1200 years.  That means this giant, beautiful tree was standing during the Crusades.

Yet this tree, like all of the other redwoods, came from a tiny cone.  The cones of the redwoods are really small compared to other pines that I've seen.

The minutes you have are small, but what you choose to do with them adds up to a huge impact.  The redwood cones are tiny, but their trees can live for generations and shade enormous plots of earth. Take the time to sharpen your saw because while you are just one person, your contribution is enormous, and the world needs your sharpness.