Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I use many stories to teach valuable life principles in my books and seminars. One of my favourites is taken from a book titled “Acres of Diamonds”, which contains several speeches given by a gentleman by the name of Russel H. Cornwell.

In this book the author relates the story of an Iraqi farmer called Al Hafed. Al Hafed was a very rich man. He owned a large farm, a large number of servants, and of course, had a lot of money. He was content because he was rich, and rich because he was content.

One day an old Buddhist priest came to Al Hafed’s house. The two men talked well into the night, until the old man started talking to Al Hafed about diamonds. He told the host how diamonds were formed, and how priceless they are. He even told Al Hafed that if he had a diamond, he could buy a whole country. The story goes that that night, as the two parted to rest, Al Hafed went to bed a poor man – poor because he was discontented, and discontented because he thought he was poor. When he compared a diamond to his possessions, in his mind, he saw that he was poor. That night he made a very important decision. He was going to sell his farm and go out to the world searching for diamonds.

Very early in the morning Al Hafed asked the old man how he could find diamonds, to which the priest replied, “Diamonds are everywhere. If you look hard enough, you can find them anywhere.” With that, he was off on his journey. But before he departed, Al Hafed announced that he was going to sell his farm, leave his family with his relatives, and go out searching for diamonds.

The story goes that he searched all over the Middle East, then parts of Asia and Europe, until he came to Barcelona (Spain), a very tired and wretched man. He spent all his money, and by the time he landed in Barcelona, he was destitute. He stood over a cliff looking down at the sea crashing against the walls of the cliff, and couldn’t resist the temptation of jumping down and ending his life. After a few minutes of visualising his family and ex-farm and regretting the decision he had made, Al Hafed quietly jumped down the cliff end ended his miserable life.

The story continues that one day as the man who bought the farm off Al Hafed was walking by the creek that ran through the farm, he noticed something glistening in the water. He reached down and picked up a stone. Not knowing what kind of stone it was, he took it and placed on the window seal of his living room. Every time the sun came up in the morning, the stone would give off all kinds of colours.

One year later the same old priest came around on his annual rounds. He lodged with the new owner of the farm. Early the next morning he got up, and upon reaching the living room, he saw the stone on the window seal. He asked the host, “Has Al Hafed returned?” The man of the house responded, “We haven’t heard from Al Hafed for a year now. Maybe he died along the way.”

The priest replied, “If Al Hafed has not returned, how come I see a diamond in this house?” His host asked, “Where is the diamond?” The priest pointed to the stone on the window seal. The man told him it was just a good-looking stone, not a diamond, to which the priest replied, “I know a diamond when I see one. Where did you get it?” The man replied, “I picked it from the creek at the back of the house. There are many there.” So the excited priest and host went to the creek, and sure enough, they found so many nuggets. In fact the whole farm and the neighbouring area was an acre of diamonds! So the man who bought the farm from Al Hafed went on to becoming the richest man of his country.

The moral of the story is this: Many times the things which would provide us a decent living and even make us rich are around us, under us, or in us, but we overlook them because we think they are elsewhere. So we search far and wide in the places we think those things exist, and most of us die en route. If only we could search within us, we would find that we already possess what we need for our livelihood.

I don’t know about you, but ten years ago I was in the same position as our friend Al Hafed. I left my last job at the beginning of 2001. For the next 7 months I was unemployed. I wrote many letters to potential employers, only to be told that there weren’t any jobs for my set of qualifications and experience. Around August of that year, our church pastor came to encourage us. In the process, he made a mind-opening statement. He said, “Farmers use spades and knives to make their living; mechanics use spanners and screwdrivers; carpenters use hammers and saws.” Pointing to my desktop computer, he continued, “You can use that computer to make a living.”

That statement switched a light on in my mind. Suddenly I realised that I could combine the computer and my knowledge to make some money. I quickly wrote a short course on coffee exporting, which was then my area of speciality. I used the computer on my desk, and the knowledge I had inside my head. It took me one week to write the course, and another week to promote it among coffee exporters. I spent around K500 to print the course materials and hire the venue.

Within three weeks I made K12,000 from a five-day course. The net salary in my last job was K6,000 per month (or K1,500/week). By running the course, I made 8 times what I was paid, and it was tax-free too. My return on the K500 investment was 2,400%!

That experience changed my beliefs about myself, and the course of my life. It dawned on me that I was worth more than what people had been paying me. I have been self-employed since. When people have offered me jobs, I have refused, because I know that I can make more than they will ever pay me. I would simply be overworked and underpaid. Being on my own has given me the freedom to create several ways of making a living. I work as a freelance consultant. I have written five books so far, and am writing more. I have designed motivational seminars on academic excellence, personal finance, business, investing, book publishing etc. My “Seven Steps To Financial Freedom” motivational seminar has been well-received by several corporate organisations. I wouldn’t be living this kind of life if I was employed. Being unemployed has been the most positive thing that has happened in my life.

I have related Al Hafed’s story and my own experience to impress upon you that you already have what you need to succeed in life. In last week’s article I mentioned 6 things you have which if you appreciate and use, can set you for life. They are your mind, basic common sense, time, physical strength, natural talents, and land. If you combine these, money will come to you. If you think that you don’t have what you need to succeed, you will become discontented. You will become mentally blind to what you have in your hands, within you, or around you. Your mind will shut down. You will set your mind on far off things, and wish that you possessed those things, and therefore be filled with hopelessness.

Let me conclude by saying this: Your ‘acre of diamonds’ may be right where you are. What you need to start your own business or live a successful life may be in your head, under you feet, in your house, in your backyard, or in your hand. So look within before you look without.

One final thought: In the Biblical story of Moses at the burning bush, God asked Moses what he had in his hand. Moses told God it was just a shepherd’s rod, but God told Moses that it was a mighty instrument of deliverance from bondage for a nation. What have you in your hand? What have you in your head? What have you got in your house or backyard? What have you got under you feet?

1 comment:

Henry Pawako said...

This is so touching, encouraging, and it really encourages me to focus inward, within before I look without. Thank you sir.