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©2019 by Paul Savage - Victory Quest Business Advisors.


How sharp is your axe?


We don't often have time to prepare for challenging situations in advance. When you are dealing with a crisis, whether it be with a spouse, a client, a child, or a friend, there are times you need to be your "best self" in the moment; and if your mental axe is not sharp, you may miss an opportunity to change a life for the better. In other words, when the time to perform arrives, the time for preparation is past. If your axe is always sharp, you'll always be prepared to act in a manner consistent with your values.


There are 3 things that especially require continual sharpening in today's tumultuous world: 

  • Your mind

  • Your body, and

  • Your spirit

And before you say you don't have time, let me just say: we ALL have time. Remember Abraham Lincoln's saying:


"Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." 

So it's not a matter of time: because a sharp axe actually decreases the time needed to perform a task. It usually comes down to this: "What do I need to give up in order to keep my mind, body and spirit sharp?" Yes, you may have to miss the occasional silly cat video on Insta, but none of the things you give up to stay sharp will ever be death-bed regrets. And by giving them up in the short run, you'll be much more likely to extend your health-span, and delay that death-bed scenario by years or even decades. Here are my tips for keeping your axe sharp. 


  • Exercise. We all know that we should get more exercise. But did you know that exercise is the #1 way to keep your brain healthy?

    • Newsflash: It is not possible to exercise your body without exercising your brain! Groundbreaking research by renowned psychiatrist John J. Ratey, as described in his book, Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, (see below for a link to get this book) reveals that the ONLY WAY to increase brain cells is through aerobic exercise.

    • The great news is that you only need 20-30 minutes per day--but you have to keep your heart-rate at 80-85% of its max for at least 20 minutes. (To find your max heart rate, subtract your age from 220 = maximum heart rate.)

    • Added bonus: exercise is actually multitasking: you get two things done at once: building your brain and helping your body stay strong and healthy. 

  • Reading. Reading is also a glorious way to multitask in staying sharp, and with a little creativity, you can feed body, mind and spirit through reading. My favorite reading falls into the following categories:

    • Business. Some business books have literally changed my life. You can benefit both technically and in self-awareness from this genre.

    • Behavioral Science. Many business books have some overlap in this area; and with good reason--the vital usefulness of behavioral science not only will help you succeed in business, but it will also transcend into your personal and spiritual life in meaningful ways.

    • Spiritual. Regardless of my schedule, I spend at least 30 minutes per day reading from spiritually uplifting books, magazines or blogs. Doing so helps me be more introspective and wanting to become a better man.

    • Classical. There is a reason why classics endure. Some of my greatest learning and inspiration has come from classical literature. 

    • Exercise. I don't read a ton of exercise books, but "Spark" really has helped me. In addition, I pay attention to fitness blogs (MyFitnessPal) and vlogs on a regular basis. 

  • More multi-tasking. Here's a great way to get past the "I don't have time to read" excuse: You can actually combine reading with exercise in a couple of ways: through audio books and podcasts, or through reading while doing exercise--such as riding an exercise bike or elliptical machine.

    • So in just 20-30 minutes a day, if you are careful in your selection of reading material and type of exercise, you can stay sharp and be prepared for whatever the world throws at you!

  • Prayer. Take time to connect with the Divine each day. Prayer keeps me grounded and even helps me prioritize my to-do list. When I petition Heaven for help to know what tasks are most important for my day, I make better decisions and use my time more wisely. This also helps me become more like the man I aspire to be. 



  • This is an element of our health that doesn't get as much airtime as it should. But with increasing levels of depression and anxiety in society, the need for physical, mental and spiritual resilience has never been greater in the history of the world. 

  • The great news is that if you follow the steps above, you'll not only be more sharp, but you will develop greater resilience. Here's why. 

    • It's not easy to keep your heart rate up at 80% of your max for 20-30 minutes. By consistently doing so, you develop mental and physical toughness and resilience. 

    • Forcing yourself to read and ponder important truths while exercising at a high level also builds resilience and mental focus.

    • Making your brain focus on multiple functions at once, i.e., reading and exercising vigorously builds brain capacity and physical stamina. 

    • Just try it and see how much better your days go! 


Here are some of my favorite books, by genre, that have made the biggest difference in my life and profession. 


Behavioral Science