What You’re Looking For May Be Closer Than You Think.

If you’ve ever visited Edinburgh, I’d be prepared to bet you’ve also visited its castle. Most visitors do. It’s one of the most photographed buildings in the UK and famous around the world. It’s on the tick list of every self-respecting North American, Australian or Japanese tourist. So would it surprise you to learn that 20% of people living in Edinburgh have never visited it?

If I look out of the window right in front of me as I write, I can see The Magna Science and Adventure Centre. Whilst it’s not quite on a par with Edinburgh Castle, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the North of England. And yet less than half the people in my office have ever visited it. They could walk there, and yet more have visited Alton Towers than the attraction on their doorstep. So what’s going on here?

Between 1900 and 1925 a gentleman by the name of Russell Conwell delivered the same iconic speech around 5,000 times. And the fact that 20% of Edinburgh’s residents haven’t visited the castle, 50% of my staff haven’t visited Magna (and someone sitting six feet from me right now has been to most corners of Europe, America and the Far East, but has never visited the Yorkshire Dales) suggests the message Conwell delivered, in that oft-repeated speech, is as relevant today as when it was first delivered. What’s more, it’s a message that could be the key that unlocks a number of financial, psychological and social treasure chests for you.

Conwell’s speech centred on the apparently true story of a North African farmer who became frustrated at being poor. He heard tales of how other farmers had made millions by going out and discovering diamond mines, and got very excited by them. In fact he became so excited that he couldn’t wait to sell his farm and go out prospecting himself. With his farm hastily sold, he set off to roam the African continent, searching for those elusive diamonds. He had no success, and several years later, tired, beaten and disillusioned, he threw himself in a river and drowned.

Meanwhile, things were going a little better for the man who bought the farm. One day, he was walking across his newly acquired land when he spotted an attractive blue and red rock on the bed of a small stream. He didn’t know what it was, but liked the look of it and so picked it up, took it home and placed it on his mantelpiece as an ornament. A few weeks later, a visitor to the farm picked up the rock and almost fainted. He asked the owner if he knew what it was… he didn’t. The visitor told him that it was a huge rough diamond – as it turned out the largest ever discovered – a fact that was of intense interest to the owner as there were hundreds of similar stones in the stream. The farm, which the original owner abandoned in search of diamonds, turned out to be the source of one of the largest diamond mines in the whole of Africa.

I’m sure you can see what pulls all this together. The human psyche default position seems to tend towards attempting to fulfil wants, needs and aspirations externally. The unwritten, underlying subtext is clear –the answers to our needs and problems are to be found far away. They can’t possibly be close or we would already be benefiting from them. I can’t pretend to understand the psychology of this, something to do with taking for granted what we already have and over-valuing what others have perhaps, but whatever it is, it creates it’s own reality.

So what’s to be done about it? Well let’s stick with the farm analogy for a moment. Your farm might be a business, a job, a relationship, a house or something else that’s important to you. Heck, it might even be a farm!

Have you really had a good look around your farm recently? Do you know everything that’s there? Might there be undiscovered diamonds lying hidden in areas you haven’t recently explored? Might the diamonds be in the rough and difficult, at first, to spot? Do you know anyone who might be able to help identify and then polish these rough diamonds? Do other farms only look good from a distance? Might the diamonds in other farms be just as difficult to harvest once you get there?

The truth is that when you see other folk showing off their diamonds, they don’t necessarily have a better farm than you. But what they’ve learned to do is:

1. Search their farm properly

2. Recognise what rough diamonds look like

3. Polish these rough diamonds effectively.

You see, it’s only when you’ve done all this that it makes sense to move off the farm. Every one of us is sitting on our own personal ‘field of diamonds’. No two are exactly the same. Your knowledge, skills, experience, contacts, strengths, weaknesses, interests and preferences all determine your field’s boundaries. And the great thing is that to mine this field, you don’t have to go anywhere. Because the excavation tool you need is located right between your ears.

Kind Regards

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John Harrison  


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