I have a funny motivational speech titled “Crack or Crack Up,” which focuses on stress management in the workplace (at least I think it’s funny). However, a lot of stress management inside the workplace begins outside the workplace. One of the best ways to decrease stress is to get adequate rest. In other words, if you’re not rest assured, you’ll be stressed assured. I know, that’s so so clever.

When you hear the word “rest,” what comes to mind? A good 7.5-8 hours of sleep each night, a siesta every day at work (we all wish!), God’s big break on the 7th day? There are several types of rest and it looks different for each individual. Whatever rest looks like for you, the following story my college professor told me may come in handy in your stressed-assured times of life.

Many variations of this tale have been relayed, but I’m going to tell a short version based on the way my professor told the story. I took the liberty of using well-known individuals as the characters to give the story a little life. My professor did not give us a title, so I’m simply calling it…


Once upon a time, a buff lumberjack named Arnold Schwarzenegger challenged another lumberjack, Richard Simmons, to a “chop-down.” Arnold scoffed and said to Richard,

“You ah so vimpy. I challenge you to a chopping contest. Your cute, stretchy little aerobic outfit and big veird hairdo are no match for my mouscles.”

“Oh my goodness, you’re so on big man!” Richard replied.

So the day of the chopping contest arrived and a big crowd gathered. Two very large trees were selected and the men began chopping, each with only a single axe as a tool. About an hour into the chopping, Richard walked off and Arnold remarked,

“Ver ah you going, you girly man?”

(Gasp! What a sexist!)

Richard replied simply,

“Ah’ll be back.”

“How very unoriginal,” Arnold smirked.

Arnold kept choppin’ away in Richards’s absence. Soon Richard returned in a new, tighter outfit, this time pink with orange stars, and began chopping again. Both men continued on.

After another hour, Richard walked away yet again. Arnold shook his head, laughed, and said,

“What a vimpie man you are. You are making this too easy for me,” and then he kept chopping away.

Richard soon returned and continued his chopping. This happened a few more times, and each time, Arnold became more and more certain he would win since he took no breaks, with the exception of pausing a few times to pose and glance in the mirror.

After a few hours, to Arnold’s chagrin, he heard Richard call out in the midst of his chopping,

“4 more, 3 more, 2 more, 1 more…TIMBER!!!”

And with that, Richard felled his tree. Arnold and all the spectators were completely shocked. He couldn’t understand how a man a fifth his size won a competition of ultimate brawn. Arnold said,

“How did you do it?”

Richard replied,

“Simple. I took breaks to sharpen my axe. And you, my friend, have been terminated.”


What does rest mean for you? Whether it’s reading or watching a movie, sleeping or working out, hanging with friends or getting some alone time, remember to sharpen your axe. It will make you more productive, less stressed, and help you enjoy your work more.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Abraham Lincoln

Join the Employment Practices Network of Kansas City for “Share Your Magic,” featuring humorist Devin Henderson! Thursday, December 7 at 7:30am, Overland Park, KS. This program has been approved for HRCI Recertification Credit. Learn more and register today here.