Monday, July 6, 2015


A very wise principal suggested that I write a blog post about the importance of SHARPEN THE SAW, based on the work of Stephen Covey.  Great reminder as we relax, spend time with family and friends, gain knowledge, and replenish our energy levels to be amazing educators!  

Summer is a time when I have an increased focus on myself and family.  I attempt to increase (at the very least... maintain) my exercising habits, vacation with my wife and kids, connect with friends, read educational blogs, catch up on home improvement projects, relax and golf. Summer is a great time to reflect and become rejuvenated to start a new school year.

This is the first time in almost 20 years that I do not get the month of July off for vacation.  I am currently transitioning to the Director of Pre K Elementary Instruction position within our district, which is a 12 month position.  On top of that, my wife and I are overjoyed about expecting our 3rd child in September.  It is an exciting summer of learning a new position and getting our house ready for a baby.  More than ever, I need to remember the importance of SHARPEN THE SAW so that I can sustain being my best for others.  

We all want to be highly effective people, but it is impossible to do that unless we are in the correct mindset.  As you transition to another school year it is important to focus on YOU!  Creating a balanced-lifestyle is vital to supporting and enhancing your effectiveness as educators, parents, friends, spouse, etc.  Enjoy the summer and use Covey’s work as a guide to rejuvenation!  

“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. Here are some examples of activities:

Beneficial eating, exercising, and resting
Making social and meaningful connections with others
Learning, reading, writing, and teaching
Spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through meditation, music, art, prayer, or service

As you renew yourself in each of the four areas, you create growth and change in your life. Sharpen the Saw keeps you fresh so you can continue to practice the other six habits. You increase your capacity to produce and handle the challenges around you. Without this renewal, the body becomes weak, the mind mechanical, the emotions raw, the spirit insensitive, and the person selfish. Not a pretty picture, is it?

Feeling good doesn't just happen. Living a life in balance means taking the necessary time to renew yourself. It's all up to you. You can renew yourself through relaxation. Or you can totally burn yourself out by overdoing everything. You can pamper yourself mentally and spiritually. Or you can go through life oblivious to your well-being. You can experience vibrant energy. Or you can procrastinate and miss out on the benefits of good health and exercise. You can revitalize yourself and face a new day in peace and harmony. Or you can wake up in the morning full of apathy because your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone. Just remember that every day provides a new opportunity for renewal--a new opportunity to recharge yourself instead of hitting the wall. All it takes is the desire, knowledge, and skill.”

Enjoy an amazing summer filled with experiences to SHARPEN THE SAW!
Keith Howell


  1. Great post, Keith! I recently wrote about Keeping Balance, and really I just needed to change my mindset. Like Covey says, "Feeling good doesn't just happen." We must be intentional about it, just as we are other things. You've got big changes ahead, my friend, with a new job and new baby. Remember to take care of you!

  2. Excellent piece, reminding us to restore, revive, and refresh so we can emerge renewed for our kids and colleagues. Best wishes on your own renewal!

  3. Hi Keith,
    Congratulations on your new position and baby! Thank you for this reminder to "sharpen the saw". #compelledtribe

  4. Congratulations on your third child and your new position. I am a big fan of Steven Covey and his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and agree that you need to remember to sharpen your saw and take time for you while still balancing other needs. Make sure you take care of your big rocks first.