Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Ever try to cut something with a dull axe or saw? It is an absolute frustration. And what makes it particularly maddening is that the axe or the saw can look sharp (and like it will cut) but it doesn't. And really that's like life.
We can look the part. Like we're ready to conquer the world. But we're not sharp. And so the solution is like old Abe said: sharpen the axe. Which is of course rarely what anybody wants to hear. We want to get in there and start chopping and sawing right away. We're action people, after all.
But if we're not together. If we're not sharp. If all of the different parts of us are not working together in harmony. If one part of us is fighting another. Then action is pointless and most often counterproductive.
Congruence (≅) is the state achieved by coming together, the state of agreement.
The above is from Wikipedia. Congruence is a broad term with many applications of its meaning. Psychologically it refers to the lining up, the coming together of all the different parts of our personality. In other words, your physical body may be willing to do something, but the mental or emotional part of your personality may not. Or you may be wanting to do something with your mind, but the spiritual part of your personality is not going along for the ride.
And whenever you have incongruence in your life, you're going to have difficulty doing things. And I think really that's what the Lincoln quote is referring to. Get your act together. Get all the different aspects of your personality lined up on the same page, in agreement, coming together. Then you will really be ready to act. Then acting will no longer be a struggle or a burden or painful. Then acting will be fluid, efficacious and fun.
Ever see people in gym class out on the track for the first time? The people in shape are flying around the track, having a ball. While the people not in shape are huffing and puffing and nearly keeling over just at a snail's pace.
Or how about taking a test you've just been so prepared for. It's fun! I know this. I know that. (You want them to throw you some more questions when you're done.) Conversely, when you're not prepared, a test is torture.
Well, that's what congruence is like. Get everything inside you lined up, and acting, and life, is fun. You're like, I can do this. Yeah, I can do this!
So get to work sharpening that axe of yours. Get who you are and what you want straightened out with all the different parts of your personality. Then when you're congruent and your axe is sharp, it is going to be so damn easy chopping down that tree—and you are going to have some great fun living your life.