Friday, May 21, 2010
Acres of Diamonds
The Baptist preacher Russell Conwell wrote the original story titled 'acres of diamonds' about a farmer that sold his farm to seek his fortune in diamonds only to fail; yet the person that purchased the farm discovered what he thought were crystals in a creek; that turned out to be diamonds in their raw state. The very diamonds the orignal farmer sought were on his own farm - if only he had taken the time to study what diamonds in their raw state actually looked like. Many of us chase the gleaming, polished gem that others have already discovered while we fail to look for the raw, undiscovered gems in our own backyard.
Earl Nightingale expanded upon the story in his series of motivational lectures where he asked the following questions (which I have adapted and modified for managers)
1: How well do I do what I do at present? Think in terms of customer satisfaction.
2: Can I call myself a first-class professional at work? Think in terms of continuous improvement.
3: How does my management compare to other managers? Think in terms of best practices.
4: How well do I understand my sector and its environment? Can I link impacts of emerging events?
5: How can I improve customer service? Ask how do my customers use our services?
6: How can I increase my customer service? Ask my customers how I might better help them.
7: Do I understand what a 'rough diamond' looks like in my sector? Think in terms of customer benefits that remain unexplored.
8: Have I broken down my work and removed barriers and blockages that impede effectiveness and customer service?
9: How well do I understand how we might serve customers in 20 years time?
10: How can I look ahead, do the things that are not yet being done and lead the way?
To often during a recession we hucker down into our bunkers and try to protect the status quo while all round us the status quo is changing, being taken away or ceasing to remain the same. When we emerge from our bunkers we discover that what we were trying to protect has gone and we are all alone.
All to often when times get tough we begin to look at other people's gleaming gems (cars, houses, jobs, holidays) and we leave our farms in search of riches. What we fail to understand is that they got what they have by being ahead of the game, in the past.
Your farm is yourself, yet the one thing we neglect to develop is ourselves. We are to busy following the development of others. On your farm you have an undiscovered diamond mine of opportunity. For a start you are in control. You can choose what you want to do. You can make your own decisions. You own your farm, noone can take it away from you. Others can take your home, your car, your passport, even your freedom but they cannot take you away from you. They cannot take away your ability to choose a future for yourself.
No matter how difficult your life may appear you have options, lot of them. Start by looking at yourself. What do you have to offer? How could others benefit from what you have to offer? Look at your work situation. If you could do something better for a customer, what would you do? Then go and do it. So many of the things we take for granted today started with an idea in a garage, a pub or a kitchen. Yes money invested made the idea big - it was passion and self belief that got the idea off the ground. Someone said, bugger the world, I'm going to do it anyway. There is something very satisfying about giving the one-finger salute to those that would rather you drowned in mediocrity!
Stop thinking about you. It will only make you miserable. Instead think of others, think of customers. Instead of saying to yourself, this is what I want or this is what I need, change it around and ask yourself what am I interested in? You will soon discover others interested in the same thing. They become your initial customers. Change how you perceive a customer. Many people perceive a customer as being someone that purchases something from them. This is wrong. A customer is someone that benefits from your services. It's not about money dummy, it's about what you can do to help others obtain their 'polished gems'. In helping others to succeed they then help you to succeed.
Let The Journey Continue
Taking You From Frontline Manager to CEO