The Allegory of the Hammer

Your business/career is a tool, it’s not your life!

Let’s liken it to a….hammer.  Here’s one I have at my shop.


As you can see, It’s not pretty.  The handle is stained with ink and grease and other contaminants.  It’s chipped and scratched.  The head isn’t shiny and new, and perfectly formed.  It has dings and is marred by hard work and use.  Another way to put it is that it is imperfect.  It is a working tool that will continue to accrue defects and imperfections.  But it will continue to work and do the job that it is designed to do.

When I need this hammer I pull it from it’s place, use it for the intended job, and then put it back.  And, quite frankly, it is forgotten about until it is needed again.  It sits among the other tools not standing out as more needed, or desirable than them.  But if it were not there, it would be missed greatly.  For that reason, I take care of this hammer.  I make sure to use it wisely, and not recklessly.  I make sure to put it back in it’s place where it is safe and can be found and used for many years to come.  It does it’s intended job well, and I don’t need it to do more, nor do I allow it to do less than that.

So how do I liken this to my business? Well, it isn’t perfect and probably never will be.  It’s been through some rough times so it has some lasting scars from that.  The equipment inside isn’t brand new, or the latest and greatest, but they get the job done.  It fills a need in the community, and while I don’t expect it to grow into something huge, I hope and pray it will continue to fill the needs that are here.

After a days’ work, I need to ‘put it away’ for the night.  There is a time and a place for worry and concern, but at home with my family is not the place for it.  Maybe as I have thoughts or ideas I need to make a note in my phone so I can reference it at a more suitable time and place.  But then it is recorded, and I can get back to the present.

My business sits among many other businesses in our town.  Some larger and some smaller.  I shouldn’t expect praise and adoration for what I have accomplished, but I should find satisfaction in the need that it fulfills even if that is never acknowledged publicly.

Finally, I need to care for it.  I need to acknowledge that it does need my input, maintenance, and faithful effort to continue to function in it’s designed role.  If I abandon it or treat it recklessly it will fail to serve it’s purpose, and in turn I will fail to fill my family’s needs through it.  So there will always be a level of stress, effort, dedication, and worry involved.  This is especially true when you are the owner as all roads merge at your door.

But there is also only so much you can control, and only so much that can be done in a single day.  So if I put all of my time, effort, and energy into maintaining that one tool, that one aspect of my life; what do I have left to offer the other parts of my life.  Those parts, when I put everything into perspective, that matter most to me?

And so my goal is to treat that tool with respect, and give it the attention and effort it needs in order to fill it’s role.  But not to let it’s importance blind me to what really matters.  For my business/career is merely a tool designed to take care of my life, and the lives who depend on me and are around me.  They need my best me.  And if I give it to them, that will be the best investment I can ever make.

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