As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. -Ancient Proverb
I am a firm believer in the adage “iron sharpens iron.” In the past, I used to think of this only in regard to the end product which is a sharper blade. I often failed to consider the process. The process of sharpening an iron blade requires an exchange, and quite frankly it is anything but mild. Sparks fly and things heat up. By nature there is a lot of friction and rough edges are worn down and parts of the blade are lost forever. So too it is during the exchange between two friends. So here is the question that begs to be asked. What kind of friends do you keep? The kind that sharpen you or the kind that dull you? The original language of this passage says in effect “so one great man or champion sharpens and makes alert the countenance or face of his companion and friend.” I don’t know about you, but I want and need people around me who are greater than me and that challenge me to greater heights. When I am around people like this it literally changes my countenance. It brightens my outlook and helps me to see further, dream bigger, and take action. Every person aspiring to be a better, more effective leader needs to seek out those who are champions in their field. Warriors who bear the scars of experience, but are not so wounded that they are unwilling to pour into the life of another. This kind of companion won’t accept second best from you. They are not interested in status quo, but they will help wear down those rough edges in your life to produce something that is useful, sharp, and powerful.