It’s funny sometimes what you take from an experience in your life. At one point in my life I was in the retail car business, working at a Honda dealership both as a salesman and a finance manager. In order to keep their sales staff engaged and excited about pushing their product, the management there would periodically send us to seminars with industry-specific motivational speakers and would also have sets of motivational tapes from other speakers that they would encourage us to listen to in our free time. One of the sets of tapes was from a man named Earl Nightingale who had a deep and engaging voice that added a serious dimension to whatever he said. As I listened to his tapes, my interest grew as he told his little tales and his lessons registered deeply within me.
One of his stories was a short retelling of a classic lecture called Acres of Diamonds from Russell H Conwell (1843-1925), an interesting fellow who was a baptist minister, a lawyer, a philanthropist and the founder and first president of Temple University. The lecture, one that Conwell delivered over 5000 times during his lifetime, made the point that the riches we seek are often right in our own backyards. His tale is of an African farmer who sells his farm in order to go in search of diamonds and finds nothing but failure that ends with his suicide. Meanwhile, the man who took over the farm found an abundance of diamonds and ended up with one of the largest diamond mines in Africa.
There were a lot of lessons to be learned from this tale but primarily what I took away was that I must leave the car business–it was not my backyard. It was the place to which I had come in search of my own diamonds. I had not yet, at that point, began to search my own backyard. I am not sure if that was the message that management had been hoping would sink in. Or maybe it was.
The other part of Nightingale’s message was that you had to set a course, aim for a destination. Everything was possible if you knew where you wanted to go and truly set your mind to it. He gave a laundry list of great human accomplishments that were achieved once we put our minds and wills in motion towards their fulfillment. That resonated with me. I had seen many people over the years who seemed deeply unhappy in their lives and most had no direction going forward, no destination for which they were working. They drifted like a rudderless boat on the sea, going wherever the strongest current took them without having any influence over this motion.
If you can name it, you can do it in some form.
As I said, it’s funny how things influence you. It’s been about twenty five years since I heard those words but they still resonate strongly with me, even now. I try to be always conscious of the goals I set, knowing that the mind and the universe will always try to make a way for the possibility of achievement.