Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sharpen the Saw: How do you sharpen your axe?

Been thinking alot lately about how to be more organized, more efficient and to live a more productive and effective life. With our baby now here time is even more precious. My life is no longer my own, but that's a good thing. Learing to effectively be a husband, a father, a follower of Christ, a business owner, a son, a brother, a friend and a super fit and strong man takes some serious discipline (at least if you want to do it right). Naturally, I am an idea man. I love ideas, I love to study and I love to meditate on biblical truths, ethics, morals and philosophy. The challenge is that reading something on paper is drastically different than ACTUALLY LIVING it out in your daily life. Hence my need to continually refine and reshape the way I do things and the way I plan.

This first month has been busy. I'm working more, planning more, and just doing more things. Much like any new parent, having a child tends to put life into the more SIGNIFICANT category and that makes me want to do things better now for the future of my family (wife and daughter). With my tendancy to be an "all or nothing" type of person, I'm either going 100% or I am relaxing, sleeping and resting. There is no in-between mode for me.

So I pulled out one of the best books ever written in my oppinion, Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. A masterpiece! The chaper that comes to mind for me at this stage in my life is the chapter "Sharpen the Saw." This chapter basically states Covey's principles of Balanced Self Renewal.

If you are in the personal training business or any other service business for that matter, you already know how demanding training clients can be due to the energy exchange between you and the client. As a trainer you cannot have an off day. You need to be at your best, happy, encouraging and ready to pour out your energy and love into that client to get them to do what they would not do on their own. That is why they come to us and that is why we can make a living doing what we love to do. The challenge for me lies in the fact that I tend to push, push and PUSH until I get sick. The good news is that I am learning and have learned alot last year about how to take care of myself.

Last year for me was tough: parasite in my spleen, shingles, 5 or 6 sinus infections, the flu, and high blood sugar levels. I got healthier by cancelling my night classes so I could get home earlier and by upping my hours of sleep. Of course eliminating sugar was probably equally as helpful. The bottom line is that we all need to learn how to continually renew ourselves and stay healthy. Much like the man in the forest who is cutting down the tree with a dull axe, he will eventually burn out, get sick and bear little fruit in his tree cutting efforts. If he knew that if he took the time to sharpen his axe, he would expend much less energy and triple his productivity by that simple act alone. We really do need to set aside time to re-sharpen the blade!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My Axe Sharpening Principles : PHYSICAL / MENTAL / SOCIAL / SPIRITUAL

1) Get to sleep by 10pm at the latest. This one habits has kept my immune system nice and strong. As soon as I break this rule my health goes down the tubes.

2) Don't work late more than one night a week. This was hard for me initially because I hate turning down work. But feeling healthy is better than having a couple of extra dollars in the bank.

3) Eat real foods (as often as I can). This is a no brainer. Real foods are what God designed for the body. Supplements are great as long as they are whole foods based and contain real food. Water.............well.......isn't that obvious!

4) Take 2 to 3 vacations per year. This is huge for me and Yoana. Now with Marianna here we will definitely want to expose our daughter (and ourselves) to beautiful and interesting places. This year we have already decided to go to San Francisco (we have never been), Hawaii (Kona) and New York City. For us getting away renews our spirits, gives us a chance to rest, and exposes us to new cultures, new foods and new friends.

5) Read and Study and then teach what I have learned. When I stop reading and studying I can sense an immediate boredom and dullness in my approach to work and life. Maybe it's the teacher in me but learning energizes me and excites me. And then TEACHING what I am learning is the ultimate AXE Sharpener as it makes me learn how to do what I do more effective and more efficiently.

6) Pray..............a day without prayer is a lost day for me. I honestly don't know how people get through life without praying

7) Saying no to meanningless things! I have learned to say no to things that really don't matter and to give up activities and habits that have no beneficial impact in my life.

8) Focusing on less! This is huge. I gave up Golf for now because it was too time consuming and was not gving me enough time with Yoana. Giving it up was liberating and freed up a lot of time!

9) Listening to good music! I think we can all relate to this one!

10) Exercising (including strething). Although my exercise sessions have to be very low volume because I'm basically training all day (at least in teaching my clients movement).

For sure some of you will have other ways to sharpen your saw and regenerate yourself. After all, if we don't renew ourselves continually we have much less of ourselves to give to others. How do you sharpen yourself mentally, emotionally (socially), Physically, and Spiritually?


Taikei Matsushita said...

Pray before execute, I heard this from a warrior's saying. This person also said "modern people forgets the importance of praying".

Authentic Strength Trainer said...

I just received word from Pavel that I will be joining you and Yoana in irvine that day. I'm psyched to work with you guys. he said there are 5 people signed up!


Pete said...

Hi Franz,

Your plate is definitely full from being a new father. It only gets more fun and rewarding, at times, trying and stressful, but nonetheless worth every minute. (I am staying at home from work to stay with my sick toddler, and we are still having fun together).

I freed up from blogging for awhile as I put "First Things First", and it made a huge difference. Not that I won't return to it, but I certainly placed more importance on posting than other things that truly had more of a priority.

Your daughter is beautiful, and reminds me of my own, especially with that head of hair! You and Yoana are truly blessed.

I am training two academy classes right now, and they are keeping me busy. More to come.

Take care!


Catherine Imes said...

Hi Franz,

Just wanted to stop by and say hello. Sorry, I didn't get to talk to you and Yoana longer on Sunday. It was great to see you again, and Congrats on your new baby girl. She is beautiful.


leslie said...

Love what you've written. I'm getting over the flu, and all you said about taking care of yourself so you can be your best for clients really resonated with me.

Stay sharp!

Franz Snideman said...

Taikei, Praying is for real men and women :)

Franz Snideman said...


Great news! Look forward to seeing you there!!!

Franz Snideman said...


First things first, so true! Life takes on new meaning with a child, big time! Glad to hear you are enjoying your parenthood adventure and that you are training another group of students! Rock on!

Franz Snideman said...


Thanks! Get better soon! And sharpen that axe of yours :)

Franz Snideman said...

Hi Cate,

Great seeing you on Sunday! Yoana and I want to congratulate you on your success in GS! That is beyond impressive! Thank you for your kinds words and thoughts about our daughter!

Look forward to seeing you at an AKC certificaiton soon!

Howie Brewer said...

Great list Franz. Keep it posted next to your bed and review each night so you don't forget anything. Get as much sleep as Marianna allows. San Francisco is beautiful. Make sure you visit wine country. And let me know when you come to NY!

Brett Jones said...

Very nicely put and important for everyone - especially sleep deprived new parents.

Boris said...

Great stuff Franz - thanks!

Adam said...

Great post Franz. How is your baby Girl doing? How is business and training?

Joe Sarti said...

Franz you are gaining much knowledge. Now the challenge is to put it into action and turn it in to real world wisdom. this alone will have a much larger impact on not only you, Yoanna and marianna but all those you encounter such as your clients and of course family and friends.

It is refreshing to see you dig deep, analyze your life and attempt to find ways to better yourself. I really like #2 because I have never truly found money to bring me happiness. Yes, it adds but for me what I love to do and brings me the greatest peace for my soul does not cost much of anything.

Balance and moderation really can work and for me they do. I hope you can balance and moderate all ten of your tool sharpeners this year, day and day out.

Nice piece of coaching and teaching. thank you for the positive and thought provoking piece

Blessings Brother

Franz Snideman said...

Howie, thanks man! this week has been rough in the sleep department. Lots to do and not enough time to do it! Our baby is the priority and that makes it tough to get everyting done on time! As far as visiting NY, we'll be there hopefully this summer!

Franz Snideman said...


thanks brother! Just trying to stay healthy at a time when I really need mental clarity and focus!

Franz Snideman said...

Thank Boris!

Franz Snideman said...


Baby is doing great, thanks! Business is going well, very busy! Training.........well...........not too much to report in that area. I'm not training much at all, just a little bit here and there!

Franz Snideman said...


Thanks for checking in man! Glad to see that life is treating you well! We'll be up in your neck of the woods in Mid-Februaru for a little mini vacation and also to say hello to everyone at the RKC.
Will you be there at the RKC in San Jose?

Joe Sarti said...

Indeed I will be in attendance at the RKC. Hope we can have a bite to eat or something of the sort. if you need vacation plan help let me know. I am very familar with the whole bay area carmel to napa ;-)

Wildcard said...


Good stuff. I have been exactly where you are and perhaps even worse in terms of sleep deprivation and stress from work as well as less than ideal nutrition. Drop me a line sometime and I'll share what i have learned. I have not been sick (not even the sniffles) in over two years! I have two little ones at home, work in health car (constantly exposed to sick people and bugs) and still don't get enough sleep.

I applaud your self reflection, humility and willingness to trust in God's wisdom. HE sends his messages through other people often times. best to you, Yoana and your new child.


Dr. Mark Cheng said...

Brother Franz, great stuff. And very, very true. It's one of the happiest, yet most grueling adjustments you'll ever make to your life becoming a new parent.

And don't forget to make use of those you trust when it comes to raising Marianna. It really does take a village to raise a child, my friend.

I'll be looking forward to seeing you soon! And I just added a link to this blog from mine. :)

fawn said...

I love how thoughtful your message is. Good stuff Franz!

Franz Snideman said...


Thanks for the feedback. No coldsm flu's or sickness for years....that's amazing! I have been much healthier since I cleaned up my diet and dedicated more time to sleep. I probably should interview you and put you in my next newsletter to share you secrets with everyone!!!

Franz Snideman said...


Thanks for dropping in on my blog! I will link you as well in my blog!!!
Thanks for the parenting advice....I especially like your saying about it takes a village to raise a child....thought provoking for sure!

See you soon!

Franz Snideman said...


Thank you!

Lauren said...

This is all such a wonderful list to follow. SO very truthful. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

By the way, holding your precious Marianna yesterday was wonderful! You must be head over heels! It makes me want to do it all over again.

Wildcard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike T Nelson said...

Excellent post Franz and I love your list.
Vacations are always a good thing!
I would add some breath work to the list also.
Great stuff!!
Mike N

Franz Snideman said...


I'm happy that you were able to see and hold Marianna! I heard you wanted to have another baby. We do to :)

Franz Snideman said...


Thanks brother! Breathing of course is an obvious one and probably something we all need to intentionally practice and improve!

Lauren said...


I do want to have another one. Just not now! Still want to give Lyla the love and attention she truly deserves and needs. I'll think about it during the summer when she is a little bit older. 8-)

Tamara Sanderson said...


You probably don't remember me from the 2006 RKC but I checked into your blog and just had to comment! The message I got from you post is BALANCE, its amazing how many things you have going on in your life and yet you maintain a spiritual focus through daily prayer. Daily prayer keeps us humble, focused, and most importantly thankful! Thanks for your reminder and insightfulness:)