- THE MAGAZINE
I had the great privilege of knowing Earl Nightingale. Many of you will recognize the Nightingale-Conant Co. as one of the largest sellers of personal and business development programs in the world.
I heard Earl speak many times, and he always started his presentations with a story. One such story made such an impact on me that I have never forgotten it, and I want to share it with you now. The story is called “Acres of Diamonds.”
“The story – a true one – is told of an African farmer who heard tales about other farmers who had made millions by discovering diamond mines. These tales so excited the farmer that he could hardly wait to sell his farm and go prospecting for diamonds himself. He sold the farm and spent the rest of his life wandering the African continent searching unsuccessfully for the gleaming gems that brought such high prices on the markets of the world. Finally, worn out and in a fit of despondency, he threw himself into a river and drowned.
“Meanwhile, the man who had bought his farm happened to be crossing the small stream on the property one day, when suddenly there was a bright flash of blue and red light from the stream bottom. He bent down and picked up a stone. It was a good-sized stone, and admiring it, he brought it home and put it on his fireplace mantel as an interesting curiosity.
“Several weeks later a visitor picked up the stone, looked closely at it, hefted it in his hand, and nearly fainted. He asked the farmer if he knew what he’d found. When the farmer said, no, that he thought it was a piece of crystal, the visitor told him he had found one of the largest diamonds ever discovered. The farmer had trouble believing that. He told the man that his creek was full of such stones, not all as large as the one on the mantel, but sprinkled generously throughout the creek bottom.
“The farm the first farmer had sold, so that he might find a diamond mine, turned out to be one of the most productive diamond mines on the entire African continent. The first farmer had owned, free and clear…acres of diamonds. But he had sold them for practically nothing, in order to look for them elsewhere. The moral is clear: If the first farmer had only taken the time to study and prepare himself to learn what diamonds looked like in their rough state, and to thoroughly explore the property he had before looking elsewhere, all of his wildest dreams would have come true.
“The thing about this story that has so profoundly affected millions of people is the idea that each of us is, at this very moment, standing in the middle of our own acres of diamonds. If we had only had the wisdom and patience to intelligently and effectively explore the work in which we’re now engaged, to explore ourselves, we would most likely find the riches we seek, whether they be financial or intangible or both.”
Earl helped millions of people achieve incredible success in their personal and business lives. Read the last paragraph again: we cleaners are, at this moment, standing in the middle of our own acres of diamonds. If we have the wisdom and patience to intelligently and effectively explore the carpet cleaning business and ourselves, we will most likely find the riches we seek.
What Earl is saying is that there are two parts to our journey to find those riches. The first part is to explore the carpet-cleaning business, and the second is to explore ourselves.
When we talk about exploring the carpet-cleaning business, we’re not talking about the technical side of the work, even though that is very important. We’re talking about the business side: how you make money while doing the very best possible job for your customers.
In other words, the secrets of the carpet-cleaning business.
And believe me, there are secrets galore. Just ask any successful cleaner who has been in the business more than 10 years. If he’ll share them with you, he’s learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t.
And if you are willing to take Earl’s challenge to explore your business, you will start to come across all kinds of people, ideas and systems there for the taking, much like diamonds in your waste tank. All you have to do is pick them up.
And that brings us to the second part of our journey to riches: self-exploration. This will be by far the most difficult part of the journey. Here’s the goal: we need to find out what it is in us that stops us from doing new things, doing things differently and taking a chance on change for the better.
We need to find out what prevents us from believing in ourselves enough to think that we deserve prosperity and success. We need to ask ourselves, What is holding me back from making the commitment to work really hard and long and in a new way in order to accomplish my dreams?
Without personal change, all the great and proven money-making programs in the world won’t make a difference.
Now what happens when you undertake the journey I’m speaking of? I recently spoke to a cleaner who make the commitment to explore the anti-allergen aspect of the carpet cleaning business. He got familiar with mattress cleaning and did a few anti-allergen jobs for existing customers based on demonstrations he performed for them. And these were customers he had not previously known had allergy sufferers in their home.
Based on excellent results, these customers referred him to some families whose children had asthma. Again, the results were excellent and the referrals started coming in. He kept his personal commitment to following the procedures he had learned on every job, and ultimately his anti-allergen business took off.
The last time I spoke with him, his increased profits had allowed him to purchase an additional truckmount and van. And because allergy and asthma sufferers need cleaning and treatment twice a year, he books the second job at the same time he does the first one. The result is that he’s busy all year long, even in the winter when a lot of cleaners are starving.
Let’s go back to the end of Earl’s story. If we undertake this journey, “…we would most likely find the riches we seek, whether they be financial or intangible or both.”
While all business owners must be concerned about profit, the biggest reward is the intangible one to which Earl refers; the incredible, indescribable feeling that you have faced and transcended your own self-imposed limitations and made your dream a reality!