The story — a true one — is told of an African farmer who
heard tales about other farmers who had made millions by
discovering diamond mines. These tales so excited the farmer
that he could hardly wait to sell his farm and go prospecting for
diamonds himself. He sold the farm and spent the rest of his life
wandering the African continent searching unsuccessfully for the
gleaming gems that brought such high prices on the markets of
the world. Finally, worn out and in a fit of despondency, he threw
himself into a river and drowned.
Meanwhile, the man who had
bought his farm happened to be crossing
the small stream on the property
one day, when suddenly there was a
bright flash of blue and red light from
the stream bottom. He bent down and
picked up a stone. It was a good-sized
stone, and admiring it, he brought it
home and put it on his fireplace mantel
as an interesting curiosity.
Several weeks later a visitor picked
up the stone, looked closely at it, hefted
it in his hand, and nearly fainted.
He asked the farmer if he knew what
he'd found. When the farmer said, no,
that he thought it was a
piece of crystal, the visitor
told him he had found one
of the largest diamonds
ever discovered. The
farmer had trouble believing
that. He told the man
that his creek was full of
such stones, not all as large
as the one on the mantel,
but sprinkled generously
throughout the creek
The farm the first farmer
had sold, so that he might
find a diamond mine, turned out to be
one of the most productive diamond
mines on the entire African continent.The first farmer had owned, free and
clear ... acres of diamonds. But he had
sold them for practically nothing, in
order to look for them elsewhere.
The moral is clear: If the first farmer
had only taken the time to study and
prepare himself to learn what diamonds
looked like in their rough state, and to
thoroughly explore the property he had
before looking elsewhere, all of his
wildest dreams would have come true.
The thing about this story that has
so profoundly affected millions of people
is the idea that each of us is, at this
very moment, standing in the middle
of our own acres of diamonds. If we
had only had the wisdom and patience
to intelligently and effectively explore
the work in which we're now engaged,
to explore ourselves, we would most
likely find the riches we seek, whether
they be financial or intangible or both.
Before you go running off to what
you think are greener pastures, make
sure that your own is not just as green
or perhaps even greener. It has been
said that if the other guy's pasture
appears to be greener than ours, it's
quite possible that it's getting better
care. Besides, while you're looking at
other pastures, other people are looking
A man I knew in Arizona began
with a small gas station. One day,
while one of his young attendants
filled a man's gas tank, he watched the
customer while he stood about waiting
for the job to be finished. It dawned
upon him that the man had money in
his pockets and there were things he
needed or wanted that he would pay
for if they were conveniently displayed
where he could see them.
So he began adding things. Fishing
tackle, then fishing licenses, hunting
and camping equipment, rifles, shot
guns, ammunition, hunting licenses.
He found an excellent line of aluminum
fishing boats and trailers. He
began buying up the contiguous property
around him. Then he added an
auto parts department. He always sold
cold soft drinks and candy, but now he
added an excellent line of chocolates
in a refrigerated case. Before long, he
sold more chocolates than anyone else
in the state. He carried thousands of
things his customers could buy while
waiting for their cars to be serviced.
All the products he sold also guaranteed
that most of the gas customers
in town would come to his station. He
sold more gas. He began cashing
checks on Friday, and his sales grew. It
all started with a man with a human
brain watching a customer standing
around with money in his pockets and
nothing to spend it on. Others would
have lived and died with the small
service station, and they do. My friend
saw the diamonds.
Many service station operators,
upon seeing a wealthy customer drive
in, might say to themselves, I ought to
be in his business. Not so. There's just
as much opportunity in one business
as another, if we'll only stop playing
copycat and begin to think creatively,
in new directions. It's there, believe
me. And it's your job to find it.
Take the time to stand off and look
at your work as a stranger might and
ask, Why does he do it that way? Has
he noticed how what he's doing might
be capitalized upon or multiplied? If
you're happy with things as they are,
then by all means, keep them that way.
But there's great fun in finding diamonds
hiding in ourselves and in our
work. We never get bored or blasé or
find ourselves in a rut. A rut, remember,
is really nothing more than a grave
with the ends kicked out.
Some of the most interesting businesses
in the world grew out of what
was originally a very
small idea in a very small
area. If something is needed
in one town, then the
chances are it's also needed
in all towns and cities
all over the country.
You might also ask
yourself, How good am I
at what I'm presently
doing? Do you know all
there is to know about
your work? Would you
call yourself a first-class
professional at your
work? How would your work stand up
against the work of others in your line?
The first thing we need to do to
become a "diamond miner" is to break
away from the crowd and quit assuming
that because people in the millions
are living that way, it must be the best
way. It is not the best way. It's the average
way. The people going the best
way are way out in front. They're so
far ahead of the crowd you can't even
see their dust anymore. These are the
people who live and work on the leading
edge, the cutting edge, and they
mark the way for all the rest.
It takes imagination, curious imagination,
to know that diamonds don't
look like cut and polished gemstones
in their rough state, nor does a pile of
iron ore look like stainless steel. To
prospect your own acres of diamonds,
develop a faculty we might call "intelligent
objectivity." The faculty to stand
off and look at your work as a person
from Mars might look at it. Within the
framework of what industry or profession
does your job fall? Isn't it time for
a refreshing change of some kind?
How can the customer be given more
value? Each morning ask yourself,
How can I increase my service today?
There are rare and very marketable
diamonds lurking all around me. Have I been looking for them? Have I examined
every facet of my work and of the
industry or profession in which it has
There are better ways to do what
you are presently doing. What are
they? How will your work be performed
20 years from now? Everything
in the world is in a state of evolution
and improvement. How could you do
today what would eventually be done
Sure there's risk involved; there's no
growth of any kind without risk. We
start running risks when we get out of
bed in the morning. Risks are good for
us. They bring out the best that's in us.
They brighten the eye and get the
mind cooking. They quicken the step
and put a new shining look on our
days. Human beings should never be
settled. It's okay for chickens and cows
and cats, but it's wrong for human
beings. People start to die when they
become settled. We need to keep
things stirred up.
Back in 1931, Lloyd C. Douglas, the
world-famous novelist who wrote The
Robe, Magnificent Obsession, and
other bestselling books, wrote a magazine
article titled "Escape." In that
article Douglas asked, "Who of us has
not at some time toyed briefly with the
temptation to run away? If all the people
who have given that idea the temporary
hospitality of their imagination
were to have acted upon it, few would
be living at their present addresses.
And of the small minority who did
carry the impulse into effect, it's
doubtful if many ever disengaged
themselves as completely as they had
hoped from the problems that hurled
them forth. More often than otherwise,
it may be surmised, they packed up
their troubles in their old kit bags and
took them along."
The point of the article was simply,
don't try to run away from your troubles.
Overcome them. Prevail right
where you are. What we're really after
is not escape from our complexities
and frustrations, but a triumph over
them. And one of the best ways to
accomplish that is to get on course and
stay there. Restate and reaffirm your
goal, the thing you want most to do,
the place in life you want most to
reach. See it clearly in your mind's eye
just as you can envision the airport in
Los Angeles when you board your
plane in New York. Like a great ship in
a storm, just keep your heading and
your engines running. The storm will
pass, although sometimes it seems that
it never will. One bright morning
you'll find yourself passing the harbor
light. Then you can give a big sigh of
relief and rest a while, and almost
before you know it, you'll find your
eyes turning seaward again. You'll
think of a new harbor you'd like to
visit, a new voyage upon which to
embark. And once again, you'll set out.
That's just the way this funny-looking,
two-legged, curious, imaginative,
tinkering, fiddling dreamer called a
human being operates. He escapes
from problems not by running away
from them, but by overcoming them.
And no sooner does he overcome one
set of problems, but he starts looking
around for new and more difficult
pickles to get into and out of.
If you feel like running away from it
all once in a while, you're perfectly
normal. If you stay and get rid of your
problems by working your way
through them, you're a success. Start
taking an hour a day with a legal pad
and dissect your work. Take it apart
and look at its constituent parts.
There's opportunity there. That's your
acre of diamonds.
To prospect your own acres of diamonds and unearth the opportunities
that exist in your life right now, regularly challenge yourself with
some key questions:
- How good am I at what I'm presently doing?
- Can I call myself a first-class professional at my work?
- How would my work stand up against the work of others
in my field?
- Do I know all I can about my industry or profession?
- How can the customer be given a better break?
- How can I increase my service?
- There are rare and very marketable diamonds lurking all
around me. Have I been looking for them? Have I examined
every facet of my work and of the industry or profession in
which it has its life?
- There are better ways to do what I'm presently doing.
What are they?
- How will my work be performed 20 years from now?
- Everything in the world is in a state of evolution and improvement.
How can I do now what will eventually be done anyway?
Learn more about Earl
Nightingale and his many timeless
books and audio programs.