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Chopping wood and building websites

One day I went to visit my old grandfather. When I got there, he asked me if I could help him chop down a tree in the backyard. 

I said “yes,” so he gave me his ax, and off I went to do the job. 

At the time, I was practicing Aikido for a little over one year. Part of that practice was to learn how to correctly hold and swing a sword, have the correct stance, and put maxim power into your cut!

What better time to show off my new skill than to chop down this tree? Sure, the ax was no katana, but the same principles would apply. 

I got into the correct stance, grabbed the ax as if it was a sword, and swung hard at the tree!

Thirty minutes later, my grandpa came to check on my progress, worried that it was taking so long. 

He found me standing next to the tree, struggling to remove the ax that was now stuck into the tree. I looked nothing like a martial artist.

He got close. With one hand, he removed the ax, swung at the tree, and with that single cut, the tree was down. As it should now be obvious, this was a very small tree. 

I was puzzled by this question for a long time: how did he do it so easily at 80+ years old, and why did I fail so miserably despite my confidence in the cutting technique I had just learned? Was Aikido a scam? 

The answer is pretty simple: he had been using an ax to chop down trees for 70 something years. He did not have to think about it; every fiber in his old body knew how to grab the ax, where to hit the tree at what angle, and with how much force. On the other hand, I held an ax for the first time and had zero practice experience. Looking back, I am happy I hit the tree and not my legs.

The same goes with hiring someone to build a website for you. Everyone can learn how to do it from a YouTube video, but it takes time and practice to see all the nuances and get it right from the first try. And what do you value more? Someone who is chopping for days at your site working “very hard?” Or someone who gets it done from the first swing?

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