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Acres of Diamonds

By the time you read this I’ll be in Killarney, Ireland, riding on a horse through the Gap of Dunloe, with my wife and kids. We’ll be in Ireland for a couple of weeks visiting the many relatives and taking in the vistas.

I don’t like the term, “the grass is always greener on the other side,” but in Ireland, the grass is definitely greener! It’s that way because of the rain. That part of the world is considered a rain forest. Ireland used to have more forests, however the Brits cut most of it done to build ship to go out and conquer the world. Ireland gets quite a bit of rain each year and it’s winters are mild so there is green grass all year long….hence, the reason why it’s called the Emerald Isle.

If you’ve been following me for a while now, you’ll have heard me talk about the book, “Acres of Diamonds” by Russell H. Conwell. If you’ve yet to read this book, I suggest you go out and get it today. If you have read the book, make sure you pass it along to your wife, kids, friends, techs…it’s so profound. One of my mentors told me about “Acres of Diamonds” and, the very next day, I went out and bought it….I didn’t need to be told twice.

It’s up to us – the entrepreneurs – to pull this country out of the rut we’re in. “Acres of Diamonds” will give you the mind-set you need to do so. If you can’t change your way of thinking, then stop here. If you can, read on. Here’s a thumbnail version of the book’s contents:

In 1843, a man was born who was to have profound effect upon the lives of millions of people, including yours truly. His name was Russell H. Conwell. This dude was a lawyer, then a newspaper editor and, finally, a clergyman. During his church career, an incident occurred that was to change his life and the lives of a whole a lot of other people.

One day, a group of young people came to Dr. Conwell asking him to teach them college courses. They all wanted a college education, but lacked the finances to pay for it. He told the group to let him think about it and he would get back to them.

After they left, an idea began to form in Dr. Conwell’s mind. He asked himself, “Why couldn’t there be a fine college for poor but really deserving young people?” It was a project worthy of 100% of his dedication-complete commitment.

Almost single-handily, Dr. Conwell raised several million dollars with which he founded Temple University. Today it’s one of the nation’s leading universities. He raised the money by traveling around the country – giving over 6,000 lectures. At each lecture, he told the crowd a parable called “Acres of Diamonds”. It was an ancient parable told to him by a middle-eastern travel guide. The story deeply affected him and deeply affected his audiences. The money he needed to build the college came pouring in.

The parable is about a Persian farmer who had heard tales about other men who had made millions by discovering diamond fields. These tales really got this farmer going; he could hardly wait to sell his farm and go prospecting for diamonds himself. So he sold his farm and spent the rest of his life traveling around the Eurasian Continent, searching high, low and unsuccessfully for those beautiful, shiny diamonds that would make him rich. The story goes he got depressed, worn out and, in a fit of self-pity, threw himself into the Strait of Gibraltar and ended his miserable life.

Meanwhile, back at the Persian farmer’s homestead, the man who purchased his farm happened to be crossing the small stream on the property. He suddenly saw a bright shining object from the stream’s bottom. He bent down, picked up the stone – it was a good size stone-and admiring it, later put it up on his mantle as an interesting object.
Several weeks later, a visitor came to his home picked up the stone, and looking very closely at it, he almost fainted. He asked the farmer if he knew what he’d found. When the farmer said no, that he’d thought it was a piece of crystal, the visitor told him he’d found one of the largest diamonds he had ever seen. The farmer had trouble believing that. He told the visitor that the river was jack full of such stones- not as large as the one on his mantle but they were sprinkled throughout the stream.

Needless to say, 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 fields in ancient Persia. The first farmer had owned, free and clear, acres of diamonds, but he sold them for practically nothing in order to look for them elsewhere.

The moral of the story is clear: If the first farmer had taken the time to study and prepare himself, to learn what diamonds looked like in the rough state and – since he already owned a piece of the African continent – 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 so profoundly affected me was the idea that, essentially, everyone at this moment is standing in the midst of his or her own acres of diamonds.

If only we have the wisdom and patience to intelligently and effectively ‘mine’ our fields (security/low-voltage businesses), we will find the riches we seek, whether they be financial or intangible or even both.

Before we go running off to what we think are greener pastures, let’s see if our own is not just as green or, perhaps, even greener. I’ve often said that if the other security dealers’ pasture appears to be greener than ours, it’s quite possible that it’s getting better care (client newsletters, customer appreciation days, thank you cards, referral systems, client drawings.) Besides, while we’re looking at other pastures…the other dealers are checking ours out, too. The loot is in your own back yard!

In my mind, there is nothing more pathetic then the person who wastes his life running from one thing to another, forever looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and never staying with one thing long enough to find it.

Acres of Diamonds 2010 and Beyond
Today, in the security industry, is what I would call the proverbial “Acres of Diamonds.” This industry is loaded with opportunities lurking within: be it residential security, commercial or industrial security, home theater system, interactive video monitoring, intercom system, locksmith, access control, biometrics, private guard services, etc. All of these niches are loaded with huge diamonds waiting to be uncovered.

The opportunities are there, now, clamoring to be noticed, but they cannot speak or print signs for us to read. Our part of the bargain is to look at our work with new eyes, with the eyes of creation. That’s right! Put on a pair of 3D glasses and start looking at all the opportunities in your own back yard. There’s just as much opportunity in one business as there is in the next. If only we stop playing copycat with each other and begin thinking creatively –begin thinking in new directions.

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