There was once a wealthy man named Ali Hafed who lived not far from the River Indus. He was contented because he was wealthy, and wealthy because he was contented. One day a priest visited Ali Hafed and told him about diamonds. Ali Hafed heard all about diamonds, how much they were worth, and went to his bed that night as a poor man. He had not lost anything, but he was poor because he was discontented, and discontented because he feared he was poor.
Ali Hafed sold his farm, left his family, and traveled to Palestine and then to Europe searching for diamonds. He did not find them. His health and his wealth failed him. Dejected, he cast himself into the sea to death.
One day, the man who had purchased Ali Hafeds farm found a curious sparkling stone in a stream that cut through his land. It was a diamond. Digging produced more diamonds acres of diamonds, in fact. This, according to the parable, was the discovery of the famed diamonds of Golconda.
Are you one of those people who look for diamonds in faraway places? Is the grass really greener there? Is there an opportunity that has been in front of you all the time? Have you taken stock of your life lately?
Perhaps there are diamonds sitting just outside your back door. Now I’m not suggesting you physically go and start digging up your backyard, as the story says, so how can you find the acres of diamonds in your own backyard?
Each of us is right in the middle of our own Acres of Diamonds, if only we would realize it and develop the ground we are standing on before charging off in search of greener pastures.
Opportunity does not just come along it is there all the time we just have to see it. In life, when we go searching for something, we should know what that something looks, smells and tastes like so that we can recognize it when we find it. Before we give up what we already have, make sure that what were getting is better than what we already have.
CHAPTER 2: The Bible does not say Money is the Root of all Evil
Conwell rejects the common belief that in order to be pious (virtuous), one must be poor. He insists that ninety-eight out of one hundred of the rich men of America are honest. To attain wealth is a noble thing because you can do more good with it than you could without it.
A student challenges Conwell, being certain that scripture states money is the root of all evil.
Go out into the chapel and get the Bible, Conwell tells him. And show me the page.
The young man returned, poked his finger into the book and read: The love of money is the root of all evil.
Not money, but the love for money is evil.
That man who hugs the dollar until the eagle squeals (yells) has in him the root of all evil, Conwell says.
CHAPTER 3: To be Successful in Business, Get to know your Customers.
Conwell challenges business owners who insist that they cannot get rich in their town. He asks them about their neighbors. Where are they from? What do they do in their spare time? What do they want and need?
To the man who does not care about the answers to those questions, he replies: If you had cared enough about him (neighbor) to take an interest in his affairs, to find out what he needed, you would have been rich.
CHAPTER 4: It is Criminal not to make a Profit on what you sell.
The overly pious insist that it is sinful to profit on a transaction. Conwell replies that you cannot trust a man with your money that cannot take care of his own. You have no right to injure your own business out of charity. To serve your community and customers, you must be a strong and stable institution. You are no good to anyone if you cannot take care of yourself.
CHAPTER 5: To Inherit a Great Amount is a Curse.
To be born with plenty and therefore be without the drive to make something of one is a handicap. He pities the children of the wealthy. They will never know the best things in life. One of the best things in our life is when a young man has earned his own living.
Much better than money is to leave your children with education, a noble character, a wide circle of friends and an honorable name. Continually he rebukes (scolds) those who believe capital is required to make one rich. He responds with a story about a man who began whittling toys from firewood and, by observing what his own children wanted, built himself into a millionaire.
CHAPTER 6: How Fortunate that Young Man who Loses the First Time he Gambles.
Failure is the best teacher. To make a risky move and lose teaches one to act with more caution and wisdom. He tells the tale of a man who spends half of his tiny amount of money on things no one wants. After that, he searches until he has found a demand, and then commits his capital to supplying that. On this principle, the man turned 62 ½ cents into 40 million dollars.
CHAPTER 7: Success Comes to the Observant
Conwell details the story of John Jacob Astor, who was renting out a store to bonnet (hat) makers who could not pay their rent bills. Astor started a partnership with the same people in the same store. He went across the street, sat on a park bench and watched the women walk by. When he saw one walking with confident posture and a smile on her face, he took note of her bonnet. Then he went inside the store, described the bonnet, asked them to make more just like it and put them in the stores window. They would not make a single bonnet until Astor told them what to make. The store blossomed with success.
CHAPTER 8: Truly Great People Never Appear Great
The greatest people are plain, straightforward, earnest (sober) and practical. Youd never know they were great until youd seen something they did. Their neighbors never see greatness in them. They call them by their first names and treat them the same no matter what heights they reach.
The author remembers the time he met Abraham Lincoln, just days before his death. Initially he was intimidated by the importance of him, but quickly he was put at ease by the ordinary, comfortable farmer-like quality of the President.
CHAPTER 9: Apply yourself wholly to your Task Until it is Complete.
Another lesson Conwell took from Lincoln: Whatsoever he had to do at all, he put his whole mind in to it and held it and held it all there until that was all done. When Conwell was led before the President in his office, Lincoln was stooped (bent) over papers. He remained there for some time while Conwell anxiously waited. Then he tied up his documents and focused fully on his guest: I am a very busy man and have only a few minutes to spare. Now tell me in the fewest words what it is you want.
When their business was concluded, Lincoln gave a crisp Good morning and went on to the next set of papers. Conwell excused himself.
CHAPTER 10: An Office will not Make you Great
You think you are going to be made great by an office, but remember that if you are not great before you get the office, you wont be great when you secure it. An elected official should be the representative of great people and therefore can only be as great as his constituents. When too many great people get elected into office, Conwell says we will have the makings of an empire, rather than a democracy. Title and position is no replacement for character.
The truly great people go about their daily business with honor and integrity. The proud and egotistical man is nothing but a puffed-up balloon, held down by his big feet.
In nutshell, how can you find the acres of diamonds in your own backyards?
Maintain a ready mind. Be open to the possibilities around you. Don’t let preconceived notions cloud your judgment. We often overlook the value of something because we believe we already know it.
Look at the familiar in new ways. Conwell lists some important inventions the snap-button, the cotton gin, the mowing machine and notes that these were created by everyday people who found new approaches and new uses for common place objects.
Learn what people want, then give it to them. Discover a market, and then provide a product or a service. Too many people do this the other way around. They develop a product or a service and then try to market it, try to manufacture desire. You’ll have more success if you see a desire and then try to meet it.
Knowledge is more important than capital. Lack of capital is a common excuse for not starting a business venture. How often have you heard, You need money to make money? Nonsense, says Conwell. He gives anecdotes of wealthy people who started with nothing but an idea.
Don’t put yourself down, and don’t belittle your environment. Don’t compare yourself with others. Believe in the great opportunities that are right here not over in New York or Boston, but here for business, for everything that is worth living for on earth. There was never an opportunity greater. Find the best in whats around you.