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Business Ethics 101 ~ Iron sharpens iron
The phrase “iron sharpens iron” is found in Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” There is mutual benefit in the rubbing of two iron blades together; the edges become sharper, making the knives more efficient in their task to cut and slice. Sharpen can also mean intensify or focus. The cutting edge of the blade is more intensely focused into a very fine line as it is sharpened and can cut more deeply. In the same way one person can intensify another’s focus by sharpening his knowledge and understanding of any given subject. The sharpening itself may be thought provoking and at times even painful, but in the end we are stronger and better for it.
Very few people understand the importance of their relationship portfolio. I don’t care what your field of expertise is, I don’t even care if you are a business owner or not. If you are any sort of professional and any sort of industry, the same rules apply… “Networking” and “team building” have become such abused terms, even though we all know it is important, it becomes one of those dreaded menial tasks that we know we need to “keep sharp”, but it becomes so dull and unfulfilling that we lose our passion in doing so.
I would rather have 20 close contacts that I communicate with on a regular basis and reciprocate generously within those relationships, rather than have 1000 contacts who I know nothing about, and rarely speak to. So I willfully choose to surround myself with those whom not only can I sharpen, but will also sharpen myself in return.
Take a close look at your relationship portfolio, and see what it consists of. What value does it provide…who are you interacting with, and then evaluate what that interaction looks like.
I can promise you that relationship portfolio is every bit as important as your investment portfolio. And yes, there are still concerns within that portfolio that you constantly need to watch for. And that is the relationships who you constantly go the extra mile for, yet you get nothing in return. Thinking all the while that eventually there’s going to be a return on that investment within our professional relationship, but You keep waiting for that return to come, and it doesn’t. I have no problem helping those who are less experienced and tap me on the shoulder for advice. I have mentored several, because I believe in reproducing that which is good. And likewise, I’ve been fortunate to be mentored by some of the best. I still am to this day.  And even though my mentor’s skill set maybe far more advanced than my own, I still provide value to them. Even if I am simply their “armor bearer”… But when I share my skill, wisdom, and insight, and get nothing in return, then that means that my professional sword is not getting sharpened in return. And I am not so gracious that I will allow such action to continue. Although I may hold respect for a professional relationship, if that relationship does not have the decency to acknowledge the many times I have given my own energy, time, effort, and wisdom, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate. Because eventually, it becomes a drain, and you begin to feel used. And NOBODY likes to feel used… It would be one thing if I saw the fruit of humility, and witness the person giving respect and honor where honor is due. But when someone is constantly tapping me on the shoulder for help, and I save there butt a long trip around the mountain, and they gain an advantage because of what I gave them, then I have to question why I am still giving my own energy and resources to that relationship. It isn’t that I “need” recognition. Rather, it is my own sense of ethics not just in my own personal life, but in my professional life as well.
And, let’s face it. Iron sharpens iron… It’s a simple theory, as I explained above. And far too often, many of us find ourselves with a dull blade in a relationship, to the point where we are reluctant to pick ours up and sharpen the other “one more time”.
I don’t know about you, but I got where I am today because I busted my own ass. I learned from my mistakes. I have zero problem sharing my educational experiences and the wisdom I gained from them. But let me tell you something… If you are in professional relationships, and they are not sharpening you in return, then why do you continue to allow that to happen? Does it not make you question their motive and intent? Because it should… And I can promise you, the next time you unsheathe that professional skill set, your sword had better be sharp. And it may surprise you to recognize the familiar face of your “opponent”. It happens, let’s just call a spade a spade… And when it does, just make certain you aren’t the one who sharpened that blade you find in your back.
Know what I’m saying..?  I hope you all stay “on guard”. You never know when that friendly spar just might determine your own survival…


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