The Acres of Diamonds
story ó a true one ó 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
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
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 heíd 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
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
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 weíre 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 guyís
pasture appears to be greener than ours, itís quite
possible that itís getting better care. Besides,
while youíre looking at other pastures, other people
are looking at yours.
A man I knew in
Arizona began with a small gas station. One day, while
one of his young attendants filled a manís 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. Thereís just as much
opportunity in one business as another, if weíll
only stop playing copycat and begin to think
creatively, in new directions. Itís there, believe
me. And itís 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 heís doing might be capitalized
upon or multiplied? If youíre happy with things
as they are, then by all means, keep them that way.
But thereís great fun in finding diamonds hiding in
ourselves and in our work. We never get bored or blasť
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 itís also needed in all towns
and cities all over the country.
You might also ask
yourself, How good am I at what Iím 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 ďdiamond minerĒ 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. Itís the
average way. The people going the best way are way out
in front. Theyíre so far ahead of the crowd you
canít 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 donít
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 ďintelligent objectivity.Ē
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? Isnít 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 its
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 anyway?
Sure thereís risk
involved; thereís 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 thatís 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. Itís okay for chickens and cows and cats,
but itís wrong for human beings. People start to die
when they become settled. We need to keep things
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
ďEscape.Ē In that article Douglas asked, ďWho 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, itís
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.Ē
The point of the
article was simply, donít try to run away from your
troubles. Overcome them. Prevail right where you are.
What weíre 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
mindís 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 youíll 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,
youíll find your eyes turning seaward again.
Youíll think of a new harbor youíd like to visit,
a new voyage upon which to embark. And once again,
youíll set out.
Thatís 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, youíre
perfectly normal. If you stay and get rid of your
problems by working your way through them, youíre 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. Thereís opportunity there.
Thatís 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:
1. How good am I at what Iím presently doing?
2. Can I call myself a first-class professional
at my work?
3. How would my work stand up against the work
of others in my field?
4. Do I know all I can about my industry or
5. How can the customer be given a better break?
6. How can I increase my service?
7. 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?
8. There are better ways to do what Iím
presently doing. What are they?
9. How will my work be performed 20 years from
10. Everything in the world is in a state of
evolution and improvement. How can I do now what will
eventually be done anyway?