So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
~ Proverbs 27:17
I wasn’t going to write about this today. I was debating between a post about Reason vs Religion, or the Lindy Effect. Then I remembered a dream of mine from two nights ago. Someone gave me a paper boat with the words, “As Iron Sharpens Iron” on it.
Up until a few minutes ago, I didn’t think much of it. Without sharing the context of the dream, I want to focus on what I think takes people to new heights. Everything I’m going to write about, I’ve either done or will do. Let’s begin.
If “Iron Sharpeneth Iron”, you must leave bronze alone. Your performance will increase when you are challenged by people of equal skill. There’s a saying that you shouldn’t be the most intelligent person in the room. True, but you shouldn’t be the least intelligent either. If you are either, you’re in the wrong room.
I definitely know how it feels to be in both situations, and growth is difficult to achieve in the two. When you’re at the top, you get comfortable, and sometimes bring yourself down. When you’re at the bottom, you feel as if you’ll never make it to the top. You feel insurmountable pressure from the top.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to leave your current situation and find a group that will challenge you. Not a group that you can dominate, or a group that dominates you.
When you think about it, sharpening iron isn’t the most glamorous thing to do. There’s a ton of friction involved that often creates sparks. When we are with people that are equally as skilled, knowledgeable, and competent as us, sparks fly. Your conversations are different as there is a sense of intellectual humility among the group.
These sparks are critical to one’s personal development and journey of self-discovery. In these situations, new discoveries are found and learning is inevitable.
One thing I want to point out is that there is someone holding the iron to each other. This is a mediator. Someone skilled enough in this craft to ensure that the iron will be sharpened, and they’re not necessarily iron themselves. These mediators can be teachers, mentors, investors, parents, counselors, advisors, pastors, ministers and the list goes on.
When you identify who’s going to be the mediator in you sharpening your skills, don’t underestimate or underappreciate their importance in your life.
You wouldn’t have to sharpen iron if it never got dull. This may be the hardest thing to admit, but we’re not always at our sharpest. If we’re using our skills constantly, it’ll get worn down. Sometimes it’s physical, mental, emotional, and sometimes we just need to upgrade.
The ability to melt down iron, strip it from its impurities, and mix it with other alloys will bring you steel. When you humble your self, strip away pride and ego, and mix with others that are strong, you will be steel. You go from iron sharpening iron to steel sharpening steel. This is a result of an incredible amount of heat applied, and withstanding that heat produces something powerful.
You have to be tested. Somehow, someway, by someone. There is always more you can learn, more you can do. Steel is 98.8% iron, but an order of magnitude stronger. You already have the materials, but where will you find the remaining 2.2% to make you your greatest self? Who’s going to apply the heat?
I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out this question for myself and I’m prepared to take this leap into the furnace, but I want to bring as many people in as possible. This is the only way I’d continue to sharpen myself against my family, friends, and colleagues.
Stay sharp, stay strong.