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Earl Nightingale quotes page 3

Acres of Diamonds

Back in the year 1843, a man was born who, during his lifetime, was to have a profound effect on literally millions of people. His mane was Russell Herman Conwell. He became a lawyer, then a newspaper editor, and finally a clergyman in 1881. It was during this latter period that an incident occured which was to change his life and the lives of countless others. One day a group of boys came to Dr. Conwell at his church and asked him if he would be willing to instruct them in college courses. They wanted a college education but lacked the money to attend. He told them he'd do all he could and, as the boys left, a thought, an idea began forming in Dr. Conwell's mind. He asked himself, "Why couldn't there be a fine college for poor but deserving young men?" It was a great idea and he went to work on it at once. Almost single-handedly Dr. Conwell raised between 6 and 8 million dollars with which he founded the now well-known Temple University of Philadelphia. It was how he raised that money that I want to tell you about. He raised the money by giving lectures all over the country. More than 6,000 of them and in each he told a story called Acres of Diamonds.

This was a true story which had affected him very deeply just as it affected his audiences. It was the story of a farmer who had settled in Africa. This farmer heard the exciting stories of other African settlers who had made millions by discovering diamond mines. Realizing the African continent was rich in diamonds, the farmer could hardly wait to sell his farm and search for diamonds himself. He spent the rest of his life wandering the vast African continent searching for the gleaming gems which brought such high prices on the markets of the world. But without success. Finally, in a sudden fit of despondency, broke and desperate as I remember the story, he threw himself into a river and drowned. During this time, the man who had bought his farm one day found a large and unusual stone in the stream which cut through the property. It turned out to be a great diamond of enormous value. And then he discovered that his farm was covered with them. It was to become one of the world's richest diamond mines. Now the first farmer had owned literally acres of diamonds but had sold them for practically nothing in order to look for them elsewhere. If he'd only taken the time and studied to know what diamonds looked like in their rough state and at first thoroughly explored the land he had owned, he would have had the millions he sought. Right on the land he had been living upon. What so profoundly affected Dr. Conwell and subsequently thousands of others was the obvious fact that each of us is, at this moment, standing in the middle of his own acres of diamonds.

If we will only have the wisdom and patience to intelligently and effectively explore the work in which we are now engaged, we will usually find that it contains the riches we seek, whether they be financial or intangible, or both. Before we go running off to what we think are greener pastures, let's make sure that our own is not just as green or perhaps even greener. While we are looking at other's pastures, the people are looking at ours. There's nothing more pitiful to my mind than the person who wastes his life running from one thing to another, like the first farmer, forever looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and never staying with one thing long enough to find it. For no matter what your goal may be, the road to it can be found somewhere in the work in which you now find yourself...

A paper salesman found a dirty drinking glass in his hotel room and gave his company the idea of manufacturing paper cups. An idea that solved his financial problems for life.

An insurance man got the idea of going back to all the people in his files and really working with them, serving them the way they should be served. That year he wrote an additional 700,000 dollars of insurance, made the million dollar roundtable, and found he no longer had to approach cold prospects. That by working with people he had already sold and on their referrals he had acres of diamonds right in his filing cabinet.

A man out west amassed a fortune with a single small gas station. In the beginning when things were tough he would ask himself each morning, "What can I do to increase my service to my customers?" He still asks that question of himself each morning when he gets up and while he could have retired years ago a wealthy man, he continues to dominate the business in his area by thinking of new and better ways to be of service. You know what the so-called "average man" would have done in this last case? He would have been worried of how bad business was, because in the beginning my friend had a hard time just feeding his family. When one day a man would have driven into the station in a shiny car, this average man seeing the wealthy customer, would have said to himself, "I ought to be in his business instead of mine."

You see, the average man believes some businesses are better than others. Instead of realizing the truth that there are no bad businesses, there are just those people who do not know enough to see the opportunities in the work therein. Jobs don't have futures, people do. No matter what our work happens to be, it's our business, we're its manager. If we can see no future or opportunity in it, it isn't because it's not there, but only because we can't see it.

One time, another farmer poked a tane pumpkin into an empty one gallon jug. The pumpkin grew until it completely filled the jug and could grow no more. When it was ripe the farmer broke the glass jug and had a pumpkin which had assumed the jugs exact shape. In life each of us does a similar thing - we poke ourselves into jugs of our own deciding and we can grow no larger. But let's be mature enough to realize that it is we who do the poking, not the job, nor the company, nor the territory, nor the economy, nor the times. We do it. We should dispense with limitations and realize there is virtually no limit to our growth and development on the land on which we now find ourselves. Above all, keep this story in mind, as often as you can, on and off the job. Somewhere, within the work you are now doing, there lurks an opportunity which will bring you everything you could possibly want for yourself and your family.

In closing, here are 12 points to remember:

1. If we will develop the wisdom and patience to intelligently and effectively explore the work in which we are now engaged we will find it contains the riches, tangible and intangible, we seek.

2. Before we go running off to what we think are greener pastures, let's realize our own pasture is unlimited.

3. That there a no bad jobs. But that it's the way in which we go about our work which makes it good or bad.

4. That we poke ourselves into jugs beyond which we cannot grow. Let's remove the limitations we've set upon ourselves.

5. That only preparation can ensure our taking advantage of the opportunities which will present themselves in the future - opportunities which are around us now.

6. Put your imagination to work on the many ways and means of improving what you're now doing.

7. Learn all you can about your job, your company, and your industry.

8. Since there is no limit to the growth of your industry, it must follow there is similarly no limit on your growth potential within that industry.

9. Our dynamic and growing economy needs and will well reward the uncommon man who seeks a place in this growth.

10. Begin to build your library of reference material pertaining to your company, industry, job, and on how to better serve and get along with people.

11. Set aside an hour a day for this study and research.

And,

12. remember the story of the Acres of Diamonds.
Earl Nightingale

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