“From my eleventh year I have been launched upon a single enterprise which is my main business! My life has been permeated and held together by one idea and one goal: namely, to penetrate into the secret of the personality. Everything can be explained from this central point, and all my work relates to this one theme.” — Carl Jung
The owner of a car wash and gas bar was at a conference where he bumped into an old employee.
“Hi George. I enjoyed your presentation. You had some great ideas and insights for the group.”
“Thanks Charlie. It’s great to see you again. It’s sure been a long time. Is this little Joey?”
“Yep. Joe’s grown a bit since you last saw him. He’s going to be taking over for me next year. If there’s any business left for him to run.”
“Boy, you’ve done well in the past eight years. How many locations do you have now?”
“Wow! And you’re going national soon?”
“Yeah, in a few more months.”
They chatted for a few more minutes. Once they had parted, Joe asked, “Dad, why is George doing so well while we work our butts off just to pay the bills?” In a flash of rare insight and candor, his Dad slowly replied, “Well, you know, years ago I set out to run a car wash. When George left me to go on his own, he set out to build a business.”
Are we just marking time or is our job part of our bigger purpose and life theme? Is our job just a means to getting a paycheck so we can get on with real living or are we doing our life’s work? These are critically important leadership issues. If my job is just a job, I won’t have the energy to energize others.
But before we go looking for that exciting new job or organization to become passionate about, we need to ensure that we have thoroughly explored our current one. We may be overlooking acres of diamonds in our own backyard.
By 1910, Russell Conwell had delivered his speech, “Acres of Diamonds”, over five thousand times to eight million listeners. The fees from his talks raised millions of dollars to found Temple University in Philadelphia and two important hospitals. The speech centered on Ali Hafed, an ancient Persian farmer. When an old Buddhist priest told him about the fabulous wealth diamonds could bring, Ali sold his farm to look for them. Ali spent years wandering through most of the known world searching for those elusive diamonds. After endless disappointments and futile searching he became completely discouraged. On the shore of the bay in Barcelona he threw himself into the tide and drowned.
Meanwhile back at the farm, the man who bought the farm from Ali had found a large, glittering stone and put it on his mantle as a curio. One day, the Buddhist priest returned to the farm, saw the flash of light from the stone and exclaimed, “Here is a diamond! Has Ali Hafed returned?” “No,” the farmer replied “this is just a stone I found down by the river.” They went down and found many more like it. And so the diamond mine of Golconda, “the most magnificent diamond mine in the history of mankind,” was first discovered.
We are surrounded by acres of diamonds. We have only to look around us for them. But like that curious stone on the mantle, they may not look like anything valuable at first glance.
Research consistently shows that successful leaders got their start in just about every job, function, position, and company imaginable. There is no particular job, industry, or organization that magically transforms “just a job” into passionate life work. However, to spot an opportunity we need to know what we’re looking for. We need to clarify our purpose.
We can’t build a team or organization that’s different from us. If we’re not impassioned by what we do, how can we possibly excite anybody else? If I don’t clarify and become passionate about my purpose, I may be a good manager, but I likely won’t become a strong leader.