Discover your greatest marketable skills and job security by developing an area of personal excellence.
Every one of us can be excellent and outstanding in at least one area in our lives. One of our major responsibilities as an adult is to find our Area of Excellence and to channel all our energies and abilities into becoming excellent in that one field to enhance job security. We know, for instance, that if we intend to make a living for the rest of our lives, then we have a responsibility to ourselves to develop excellence in at least one area of marketable skill.
What astonishes us continuously in talking to people is that many people will work five and 10 and 20 years in a field or in a career or in an occupation, and it will never once occur to them that they should take the extra time and put in the extra effort to become excellent in their field of endeavor.
The great tragedy of modern life is that most people walk around doing what they do in a mediocre fashion. It never occurs to them how important it is that they become outstanding at something. The reason why this is so important is because the only way we can have any kind of job security in a rapidly changing society is by becoming outstanding at what we do. The top 20% in every classification in every field are never unemployed. The top 20% are always working and always have complete job security and financial security.
Even more than that, how much we like ourselves and how good we feel about ourselves as human beings determines how well we do everything in life. It determines the quality of our interpersonal relationships. It determines our levels of health, our energy, our creativity. It determines our levels of stress.
And we also know that if a person is not excellent at something, that person gets up every morning and looks at himself or herself in the mirror and sees a person who is only mediocre at everything. It is impossible to fully like, value, and accept ourselves as genuinely important and worthwhile human beings unless we know deep down inside that there is at least one thing in the world that we are good at.
In studying the annals of achievement and the annals of success, we find that all men and women who have ever made a contribution to the world in any area have found their Area of Excellence. They have channeled all their time and talent and ability and energy into becoming outstanding in at least one area. There are no exceptions to that anywhere.
So in establishing our goals, one of our goals has to be to think in terms of where we can develop excellence to further our job security, confidence, and personal growth. There are only two things that can help you decide that. First of all, you can only become excellent doing what you love to do. One of our prime responsibilities is to find what we love to do as adult human beings and then to spend the time and the effort and expend the energy becoming excellent in that area.
You can tell where your potential Area of Excellence is by looking at what interests you, looking at what attracts your attention, looking at the sort of things that you would do if you were not being paid for them at all. Ask yourself, “If I had no limitations on my abilities, what would I do?”
The second concept is what we call the Acres of Diamonds concept. The Acres of Diamonds concept comes from an essay and a speech written by a man named Russell Conwell around the turn of the century. The speech was so effective that he was ultimately asked to give it more than 5,000 times. It told the story of an old farmer who had done extremely well in life. One day he became very excited in hearing about people who had gone to Africa, discovered diamond mines, and became fabulously wealthy as a result.
So he sold his farm and decided to go off to Africa and to crown his life by finding a diamond mine. He wandered the vast African continent for 10, 12, 13 years and never found a single gem. Finally broke, alone, sick, tired, and exhausted, he threw himself into the ocean and drowned.
Meanwhile, back on his farm, the new farmer one day was out watering a mule in a stream that cut across the farm. A rock caught his eye because it was throwing off light in a remarkable fashion. It was later found to be a diamond of inestimable value. The person who identified it as a diamond asked the farmer to take him back out and show him where he had found it.
He took him back out to the place where he had been watering the mule, and they found another diamond. Then another, and another, and another. After a short while of scooping up diamonds, they realized the whole farm was literally covered with acres of diamonds.
The old farmer had gone off seeking diamonds somewhere else without ever looking under his own feet. The moral of the story is that the reason the farmer went off looking for diamonds somewhere else is that he did not realize the diamonds didn’t look like diamonds in their rough form. Diamonds in their rough form simply look like rough rocks, burnt fragments, and charred remnants of coal. To become a diamond, it must be cut and shaped and polished and set in order to bring out its very best value.
Our major opportunities in life also come to us like rough diamonds. They say the reason why people miss their major opportunities when they come is they usually come disguised in work clothes or disguised as hard work. Our major opportunities to achieve everything that we want to accomplish and have greater job security usually lie right under our own feet — not only in our own talents and abilities, but in our own industry, our own education, our own interests, our own background, our own connections, our own contacts, our own communities.
Everything we want, everything that we could ever hope for, the realization of all of our ambitions, is probably very, very close at hand, but it does not look like a diamond in its rough form.
It will require work and planning and preparation and effort. It will require actually getting down in there with our hands to turn it into something worthwhile. So when you begin to set goals for yourself, don’t think that you have to travel across the country or change industries or go back to school for five years to get a degree. Look right where you are, and start right where you are, and in most cases that’s where you’ll find your Acres of Diamonds as well.