As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.King Solomon

This guy sure found an iron file to sharpen his chess skills! Hope he took good notes. His king is in the corner, hemmed in by the rook, with his opponent’s knight and king closing in for the kill – no wonder he looks glum.

What does that mean?
In many other translations, this quote ends with “sharpens the countenance of a friend.” In this context, countenance is an antiquated word meaning character of a person.

The first portion is interesting, when you consider the time of this quote. At that time, iron tools were available, but bronze ones were much cheaper. If you wanted to sharpen an iron tool, you needed an iron file to sharpen it with. A bronze file would be badly damaged by an iron tool, and the tool would be no sharper.

When put together with the second half of the quote, it takes a person of superior character to help sharpen the character of a friend, and bring it up to that level. In other words, if you wish to have a sharp iron character, or the best possible character, you should hang around with others of iron character, not those with merely bronze character, as they will be of little help to you.

Why is a friend of good character important?  
Here, I use the word good to imply someone who has better character than you do. Remember that there are many aspects of character, and you may be better than they are in some aspects, and they might be better than you in others. Turn to them and learn from them where they are strong, so they might help sharpen you.

In turn, you can offer to assist them in sharpening themselves in the areas where you are better than they are. In this mutual fashion, you both get benefit from the strength of each other. This can also be done in with a much larger group of people, and is the basis of many fraternal organizations.

Where can I apply this in my life?
Have you taken any time to consider where in your life you might want to improve yourself? A person’s character is presumed in the original quote, but you can apply it to any aspect of your life. Is there a friend who is good at something? What is it, and how might you get them to share their skills with you?

It could be anything from cooking to a foreign language, from painting to martial arts, or from timeliness to meditation. Grab some paper and write a few of these things down. You can either start with a list of friends and add their skills to the list, or start with a list of things you want to learn, and then add names next to them.

Once you have more than a few entries with both a person and a skill you are interested in becoming better (or learning in the first place), make a separate list with just those entries on them. Now you can put down the pen (pencil, crayon, marker, calligraphy brush, or…) for the moment.

Read the list of skills out loud a few times. Do you feel drawn to one over the others? Does one of them say “pick me!”? If so, I think you may have your first skill to work on. If not, is there a person on the list who you would feel most comfortable working with? However you choose to do it, select one of the skills and a person to work with.

We often think of our needs and desires first. Let’s try to not do that in this case. What can you offer the person in exchange for taking their time and effort and devoting it to you? Will you provide beer and pizza on that night of the week (or month, depending on how often they are available), or will you cook something they like?

Now all you have to do is approach them and see if they are interested in teaching you. If they seem hesitant, you can then offer something in exchange. (best to have a few somethings on your list, in case the first one doesn’t wow them).

Other options include finding someone with the skill you wish to learn and become their friend. If you want to learn about public speaking, find a local Toastmasters chapter and make a few new friends. The same can be done for many other pursuits, skills, hobbies or what ever part of your life you wish to sharpen.

Just make sure that you’re using an iron file, not one made of bronze!

From: Twitter, @mgb2013
confirmed at :
Photo by Ed Yourdon


About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in character, education, friendship, growth, improve, personal growth and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

  1. Pingback: On Hang Around With Good People: As a friend sharpens a friend: Baha’i Views

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