017 – A Dull Knife Will Not Cut Through the Noise

017 – A Dull Knife Will Not Cut Through the Noise

Are you feeling tired? Are you exhausted? Are you so far gone that you’re not even tuned into your well-being?

In this episode of Creativity Excitement Emotion, David shares why a dull knife won’t cut through the noise (and there is more than one way to take this!).


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00:17 – Mental sharpness
00:48 – The importance of rest
01:59 – A dull knife won’t cut
02:39 – The ideal
03:18 – Like a frog being boiled
03:34 – Sometimes it feels unreasonable to take breaks


I’ve been resting for about a week straight, and today, in conversation with others, I discovered that my mental sharpness was off the charts.

And this tells me a couple things. The first is that I don’t know the last time I’ve felt this sharp. So, I’ve been operating at dullness, or a degree of dullness, for quite a while. I don’t even know how long. I don’t know the last time I felt this sharp, which is weird.

The next thing is the importance of rest. Vacations, holidays, breaks, whatever you want to call them. I’ve been calling this my “break” and people go, “I don’t know what that means.” So, I realized I guess I should call it a “holiday” or “vacation.”

I spent a few days in Seattle, but it’s not exactly a getaway. It’s more of a staycation. So, maybe that’s the correct terminology to use here is “staycation.”

Either way, you’ve got to find what’s going to work for you. That might mean taking a week off every quarter, it might mean taking two weeks off in a year, but I don’t know, I feel like two weeks off in a year is almost the minimum.

You just start to feel normal, at least if you’re operating at my level, and the level that some of the other business owners I know. You only start to disconnect and feel normal after about five days. And then the rest of the time you’re sort of sleeping and resting off the fatigue.

Next year I’m looking at a week off every quarter because I think every quarter is going to be intense. I’m going to keep to a schedule that allows me to produce a lot of stuff at a high level.

The last thing is a dull knife, or a dull axe doesn’t cut through much. You can keep pounding and pounding and pounding away and not get anywhere with anything. And a sharp knife just slices through it all. Or a sharp axe.

A sharp knife can slice through all. Share on X

I think about how long I’ve not been operating at full capacity and suddenly it comes into view why I was starting to feel a little bit flat in some of these conversations and why I didn’t feel as effective in my coaching.

It’s like, “Oh yeah, I haven’t been completely present. My body has checked out on its own.”

I think the ideal is still to work at a pace that never leaves you feeling tired, right? The 40- to 60- to 80- or 120-hour workweeks… I don’t even know if you can realistically pull off 120-hour workweeks. I have my reservations and skepticism about that. In the category of question everything, that’s up there.

The ideal is to work at a pace that never leaves you feeling tired. Share on X

But the idea is if you can work about 20 or 15 hours a week, that’s a schedule you can sustain and still be sharp. 40 hours a week. I don’t know. I think at some point you just run out. You’re going to reach a point where you’re not as sharp.

And again, the problem is it’s kind of like a frog being boiled gradually. You don’t notice it until later until you’ve had the opportunity to stop and rest and become present to how dull you’ve been and for how long.

We live in a world where sometimes it feels completely unreasonable to take breaks, doesn’t it? Like, interruptions still show up, people still break boundaries, and there can be financial concerns.

And all this stuff can come up as you’re resting, but when you get back at it, you’ll be way sharper. And you’ll be able to get way more done, way faster.

So, at the end of the day, I think if you want to be high performing, you’ve got to make sure that you’re getting the rest you need.

If you want to perform at a high level, ensure that you're getting the rest you need. Share on X
The Right Action

The Right Action

Depends on the situation.

It seems obvious. Yet it is easily overlooked.

Work ethic, productivity, and consistency are often stressed above all else.

If you have things to get done, your default mode will be to grind it out, power through, and keep going.

But ignoring your relationship, your growing fatigue and exhaustion, or important family events, will have consequences.

The right action is the one that’s in front of you. And it may not have anything to do with your default course of action. It may not be obvious.

It may be time to have a date night, lay on the beach, or go to a wedding.

Choosing the right action is usually the hard part.