There’s an old story called “Acres of Diamonds” that originates back to 1869, when a man named Russel Conwell heard it from an Arab guide while traveling along the Euphrates River in the Middle East. The story inspired Conwell so much, that he began sharing it with others, who were also inspired. Soon after, Conwell began telling the story to larger and larger audiences - eventually using the income he received from his speeches to found and establish Temple University. By the time he passed away in 1925, he’d delivered his “Acre’s of Diamonds” speech over 6,000 times.
The story is about an African farmer who’d heard about other farmers who had made millions of dollars by discovering diamond mines.
These stories got the farmer so excited that he could hardly wait to sell his own farm and go prospecting for diamonds himself.
Enthused by the idea of becoming an instant millionaire, he sold his farm and began searching for diamond mines…
Well, he ended up spending the rest of his life wandering around the African continent searching for these diamond mines—to no avail.
It seems this farmer wasn’t as lucky as the others he’d heard about; and eventually, tired and depressed, the farmer threw himself into a river and drowned to death.
Meanwhile, the man who had bought his farm happened to be crossing a small stream on his property one afternoon, when suddenly a bright glimmer of colorful light caught his eye—it was coming from the bottom of the stream…
So, he bent down to see what it was. He reached into the water and picked up a stone. It was a fairly large stone, bright and beautiful. He paused for a moment and held it up, admiring it as it shined and glimmered against the sunlight. Then, he took the stone home and placed it on the mantel over his fireplace as a decoration of sorts.
Several weeks later a friend of his came by to visit. The glimmering stone over the fireplace caught his eye, so he picked up to get a closer look.
As he felt the weight of the stone in his hands, he was in absolute shock.
He looked up at his farmer friend and said, “Do you have any idea what this is?”
The farmer replied, “No, I found it awhile back and thought it was just a pretty piece of crystal.”
The visitor paused and said, “You’ve just found one of the largest diamonds ever discovered.”
The farmer had a hard time believing that.
He told his friend that his creek was full of stones just like that one, not all as large as the one on the mantel, but the stones were sprinkled generously throughout the bottom of the stream right here on his property.
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 only had the wisdom and patience to intelligently, effectively and thoroughly explore the line of work in which we’re currently engaged—to more fully explore ourselves—we’d be much more likely to find the health, wealth and happiness that so many of us around the world are looking for.
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 at yours.
Some people see someone succeeding in their line of work, whatever it may be, and say something along the lines of, “Boy, I’ve gotta get into that business!”
There’s just as much opportunity in one business as there is in another—if you’re willing to dig for the diamonds.
If you’re willing to stop comparing yourself to others…
If you’re willing to stop playing copycat…
If you’re willing to start thinking more creatively…
If you’re willing to start working harder and smarter…
If you’re willing to do these things, you can uncover your own diamonds right there where you are.
It’s there, trust me it’s there...
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 it’s fun and fulfilling when we look for the diamonds hiding within ourselves and within our present line of work. We never get bored or find ourselves in a rut. Some of the most successful startups in the world grew out of what was originally just a tiny idea, capitalized upon.
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?
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… Who says it’s the “best” way? If millions or billions of people are doing it that way, or thinking about it that way, it’s not the best way… It’s the average way.
The people going the best way are way off in the distance.
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 intuitive intelligence and imagination to know that, in their rough state, diamonds don’t look like those polished stones you see behind the glass at a jewelry store.
To start mining for your own acres of diamonds, it’s important to stand off and observe your own work as a person from another planet 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?
To help uncover your own acres of diamonds, make a habit of asking yourself the following questions each and every morning:
There are better ways to do what you’re doing—no matter what it is… What are they?
What will happen within your industry or business in the future?
How will your work be performed 5 years, 10 years or 20 years from today? Will it even exist?
Could there be some sort of opportunity ahead, somewhere in the near-future, that others don’t see—but you do?
How can you exploit that opportunity?
Everything changes and evolves.
Sometimes for better; sometimes for worse.
And it’s up to you which side of the future you want to be on…
Sure, there’s risk involved; incredible things rarely happen without without risk.
We begin running risks from the moment we wake up in the morning. We risk our lives every time we drive our cars. Risks are a good thing. And when we practice intelligent risk-taking, it can bring out the best in us.
Smart risks can sharpen our focus. They can force us to think creatively and come up with new ideas.
Risks are scary. They can cause problems. They can lead to obstacles.
But those who prosper through their problems don’t run from them. They don’t try to find a different path without exhausting the one they’re on.
Don’t try to run away from your troubles—overcome them.
Prevail right where you are.
What we’re really after isn’t to escape from our complexities and frustrations, or to pretend like our problems don’t exist, but to triumph over them. And one of the best ways to accomplish that is to choose a purposeful path, and to stay the course. When we do that, eventually we’ll uncover our very own diamond mines.
Restate and reaffirm your goal, the one thing you want most to do, the place in life you want most to reach. See it clearly in your mind’s eye—sharpen its focus and make it crystal-clear.
In the words of Earl Nightingale: “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 … 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.”
To uncover your own acres of diamonds - and to discover the opportunities that exist in your life right now, make a habit of brainstorming new ideas on a pad of paper or in your journal each morning. New and exciting opportunities are waiting for you… And often times, you need not look anywhere else other than within to find them.
It’s also helpful to ask yourself—and write down your answers to—the following key questions: