If I pick up a rock, how do I know what it is worth? I did a degree in Geology, clearly a natural route to accountancy. So, in theory I should be able to tell the difference. That’s the theory anyway.
There is a story of a farmer who was eking out a subsistence living and decided to better himself. He sold his farm and went prospecting, expecting to make his fortune. He was unsuccessful and ended up bankrupt.
Someone was visiting the old farm, now owned by a new subsistence farmer, and they noticed various unusual rocks on a shelf in the house. The farmer was asked where he got these rocks. He indicated that there was a stream crossing his land and he found them in the bed of the stream and brought them back to his home as decorations. They turned out to be rough diamonds. The former owner had sold his farm without realising that there were acres of diamonds on his own land if he had just taken the time and trouble to look. Instead, he thought that all the answers he sought were elsewhere. I don’t know if this is a true story, but it is a good one.
I have often thought that I should read more. I know I spend most of the day reading, whether that be files, tax books or spreadsheets, but I would like to have had the time to have read some of the classic books.
Many years ago, when I still had time for these things, I did a lot of reading. It was the books of Asimov and Heinlein that got me started. I moved on to Trollope and some others. I seem to have had more time then. These days, I just get a glimpse of these classics from other people’s writings, as long as those writings have been made into a CD that I can listen to in the car, that is.
There is a quote from Voltaire’s Candide which I believe is on the final page. You see I am name dropping because I have never actually read the book myself. After all his adventures and misfortunes, Candide, the hero of the book says, we must cultivate our garden. This seems to mean that though we may look for answers to all our questions from everywhere else, at the end of the day we must make the best of our own situation in the present moment, accepting what we have been given in life and working to make the best of it. In other words, we must look for the diamonds that in all probability are right under our noses. We just have to look.
We are dealt a hand of cards. We don’t get to choose the hand that we are dealt. Then we alone decide how to play that hand.
There was a quote that I came across recently which read “A diamond is just a piece of coal that did well under pressure”. With my geological background, I understand that diamond crystals grow from carbon under intense pressures. But when you think about it there is another meaning to be taken from this.
Let me throw in another well-known quote which says that there are no extraordinary people only ordinary people do extraordinary things. Some of you may disagree. Some of you may believe that extraordinary people who achieve great things are born not made. I tend to the view that we are all born with some inherited traits, but that as we grow, we learn and amongst other things, we learn to think for ourselves. We have an element of choice where we go and what we do. But, at the end of the day, it is the life events that we experience that will have a great part in shaping who we are, what we become and what we achieve. The greater the emotional intensity of the experience, whether in a moment or over a period of years, the more impact that experience has on our own personal development.
We all start ordinary. Sometimes we are called upon to perform extraordinary things, because we must and there is no one else. This may make us appear extraordinary in the eyes of other people, but deep down we were ordinary before, and we are just the same after. It was just in the moment or during that period we were called upon to do great things.
You could also think of it as the pressures you experienced during that time turned you from a lump of coal into a diamond of much higher value. These experiences may be through your work, what you choose to do away from work, or a combination. However you gain these life experiences, it is the pressure that creates the diamond.
Are such experiences good for you physically? I am told that stress is not good for us, but I always thought that stress is what you get when are put under pressure in situations where you do not feel in control. I always have the choice to walk away from any situation. I therefore rarely feel out of control. I, therefore, do not “do stress”. I do, however, frequently work under pressure. Am I a diamond in the making? Better ask Helen about that!
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Alan E Long
The Long Partnership