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I am writing an article and would like to attribute the phrase correctly.

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I don't know, but what a great phrase! – Urbycoz Aug 13 '12 at 15:11

Abraham Lincoln is said to have said (1, 2)

If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.

from which the variation you mention may stem. The variation is often credited to Zig Ziglar, or sometimes to Vance Havner, or to “old saying”.

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