58. When the tree has fallen, any one can cut wood.
A massive tree stands majestic in the forest. It has lived for one-hundred years. A pine tree, taller than all the other trees around.
One day, loggers arrive and mark trees. Some will live. Some will die. Those that die will head to the lumber mill, eventually becoming tables, desks, chairs, houses. Our pine tree has been marked. Its time has come.
Felling the tree requires a very skilled crew. Safety precautions must be taken. Preparations for removal must be in place. Climbers must scale the tree. And so on. Not just anyone could stroll by and fell the hundred-year old pine. It takes skill, honed through years of deliberate practice.
But once the tree lies on the ground, anyone could come by with an axe and chop away until they’ve split the tree. The skilled logging crew could do it faster, surely, but eventually, anyone can cut the wood once the tree is on the ground.
Let’s see if we can draw any parallels in life. The felling of the tree is the most difficult part, requiring the most skill. Once on the ground, it is much easier for anyone to come in and cut some wood. Some examples off the top of my head:
- Composing a song — once a catchy hook and compelling motif have been written, “anyone” can come in and produce a track from this base (anyone being anyone with the necessary technical production skills; more common that the skill to compose memorable melodies)
- Writing marketing copy — once the higher-level tasks of identifying an angle, researching keywords, and writing headline(s) and call-to-action(s) are done, “anyone” can fill in the rest of the long form copy, using the skeleton that has been laid out (again, anyone here refers to anyone with a modicum of copywriting skill)
- Coloring a coloring book — once the skilled work of creating a beautiful black and white outline is drawn, anyone can come in and color inside the lines to bring it to life (here, anyone means pretty much anyone; not sure I get the whole adult coloring book craze)
So how do we use this thought experiment to our benefit?
If you have the advanced skill level to “fell the tree,” if you will, try and focus on that. Perhaps you can setup a system that leverages others to do the more menial parts. Outsource the lower-skill components of your workflow whenever possible.
If you don’t have that level of skill yet, that’s okay too. Persevere, keep practicing deliberately, and see if you can work with a mentor to assist their workflow. Great opportunity to learn and improve your skills, while working in your field and seeing how a master works up close.
Either way, we can remember — getting the tree on the ground is the hard part. The rest is all downhill from there.
Until next time,
If you want to expand your horizons and read more pithy sayings written over two-thousand years ago, check out this book.