Let me ask you a question. What are you? In one word, tell me what you are. It’s not so easy, is it? So if someone boxed you up, slapped a label on you, and sent you packing, that wouldn’t seem right, would it? You might be the first to say, hey wait a minute, I have so much more to offer. Aren’t we doing that every day though? Republican and democrat, black and white, male and female, etc.
The dirt: Stay away from those people
As our collective intelligence is challenged by society, school, marketing, and tradition, it’s very easy and tempting to simplify people and things into categories and labels. Critical thinking takes effort and personal responsibility, neither of which seems to be overabundant today. Of course, some degree of simplification must take place so that we don’t go crazy with overanalysis, but it’s often taken so far that we reject greatness from our lives due to race, religion, politics, and a host of other inconsequential factors. We even would rather suffer and struggle than to take advice or learn from the opposite gender, a different profession, or someone who just rubs us the wrong way.
Would you agree that no person or thing can be justifiably labeled as one thing? What if in looking at the whole we can take the good and leave the bad? What if we don’t have to love and adore every aspect of a person in order to benefit from an association with them? If we can find and use the golden nuggets from everyone and allow them to borrow ours, how can we not all win together?
“When we take our golden nuggets to the bank, will it pay us the success we expect or leave us deflated and bankrupt?”
Consider the life of a gold prospector. The prospect’s goal is to find gold and become wealthy. Everything they do is for the attainment of gold. The prospector is a relentless worker who knows that through sifting enough dirt, there will be a reward. They don’t love dirt, but they know the gold lies within. It’s not a sexy job, but the rewards are great. There’s a saying in prospecting that you find the gold where you find it. They are able to look past the dirt and focus on the prize. There’s a lot we can learn from their way of life. Let’s look at the process and how it might apply to our life and business.
They know what gold looks like.
They know exactly what gold is and how much is required for wealth. There is no mistake about their purpose. They know what they want, how they will get it, and dream of the day when they are flush with gold. They would never go out to the stream and wander around aimlessly. They are clear on what they are doing and why it’s about the gold and and wealth accumulation.
If we interpret wealth more broadly as inner wealth (health, happiness, fulfillment) and outer wealth (financial security and freedom), isn’t our goal the same? We all want success, but what’s our golden goal? What exactly do we want? Can you see it with clarity and do you dream about it every day? If not, what are the chances you’ll ever find it, even if you tripped over it?
They look for prosperous areas in which to work.
Prospectors look to work in areas that have a high propensity for gold. They probably don’t spend too much time in swamps and toxic waste dumps. There might a spec of gold in those places, but the effort may not be worth the reward. Instead they focus on soil rich in nutrients, small crevices where gold often hides, and everywhere in between.
Once you know exactly what you want, where do you search to find it? What are your associations? If you want financial success, are you talking with your broke Uncle Larry or a successful investor? If you desire to run a marathon, are you talking to the guy on the couch who never ran a race, or the lady who’s won multiple contests? If you’re going to put forth the effort, why not increase your chances of finding the “gold” by associating with other successful people with knowledge and competence. Don’t forget that many successful folks have shared buckets of gold in their books and audios as well.
They must have an empty pan.
Prospectors know that starting with a pan full of dirt, rocks, or anything else is pointless. There would be no room for new dirt and gold. Certainly, anything that isn’t gold would be removed immediately since this would just be wasted space.
Consider a prospector’s pan to be like our mind. When it’ already full, there’s no room for anything else, even something as valuable as gold. If you already believe you know it all, then don’t expect to find anything new. Then again, how is that working for you? If you’re not at the level of success you wish, perhaps it would be worth emptying your pan, letting some of the ego fall away, and open up to learning.
They put the dirt into the sifting pan.
This one may sound obvious, but it’s vitally important that the dirt be filtered to allow the gold to show up. How crazy would it be to try to find the gold while still on the ground or in the stream, amidst all of the other objects and distractions? Or worse yet, look at the ground and just assume there’s nothing there?
In life and business, how often do we look at a person or situation are pre-determine there is no value? We see some dirt or something with which we disagree and immediately dismiss all else, even the gold. Maybe we do a cursory glance to see if there is something of value there, but we don’t dig in and put it into our sifter and investigate. Imagine giving everyone a chance? You might be surprised at what you can find.
They expect to put a lot of dirt into the sifting pan.
No prospector, while it would be nice, expects to get rich overnight. They know it will take time and energy, repeatedly, to find their reward. Most of what they will find will have little to no value. They don’t mind because the gold nugget or two makes it worth dealing with all the useless dirt.
Imagine the power of this concept in life and business. If we go through as much dirt as possible knowing that eventually we’ll find something or someone of value, is there any reason we wouldn’t get out the dump truck and load the pan? In other words, if it were guaranteed that by talking to enough prospects in business, we’d make our sales goal every time, why wouldn’t we? On the personal side, if we can look past those things we may not like about someone, perhaps we can still benefit from those things we do like.
They shake the pan.
Prospectors know how to use their pan to sift out the dirt. They will load the pan and then shake it to accelerate the process and sort through the bad to get to the good. They don’t just wait on gravity or the wind to blow, they must make it happen.
If our pan is our mind, then shaking the pan is the process of thinking. It’s great to put a lot information into our brain, but at some point we must “crunch the numbers.” Critical thinking is the objective analysis of a situation to form a judgement. So if we can take in the information, give it some real thought and analysis, then we can extract the reward expediently. Yes, it takes effort and skill, but aren’t you working hard anyways?
They recognize the gold and discard the rest.
The prospector knows the gold when he sees it. He takes the real gold and tosses the rest. There’s no room nor time to mess around with anything not gold. He’s adept at recognizing fool’s gold as well, so as not to be taken for a fool when he goes to cash it in.
In our quest, can we recognize the good versus the bad? In terms of knowledge, it’s the truth versus the deception. In mindset it’s the belief that serves us versus the one that doesn’t. When we take our golden nuggets to the bank, will it pay us the success we expect or leave us deflated and bankrupt?
As you can see, there’s a lot we can learn from the gold prospector. Imagine setting a clear and precise goal that is our reason for getting out of bed in the morning, putting ourselves in the right environment to help foster our growth and development toward the achievement of our goals, opening our minds to receive as much information as possible so that we can objectively analyze and choose the best path, followed by massive action towards its implementation, ready to recognize our great success when it happens. It won’t be easy, but wouldn’t it be worth it?
What’s the alternative? What do the masses do? Outside of success, we can certainly wander aimlessly wondering why we woke up that day, hang out with friends that aren’t any better off than we are, assume we already know it all while complaining that what know isn’t working, arbitrarily prejudge and reject everyone that’s not 100% like us, so that we can lay blame to those same people when we’re working really hard and getting nowhere while they’re building wealth and success. It’s just not fair, eh?
The good news is that there is an infinite supply of gold and rewards out there if you’re willing to dig it up. A few places that may have the richest concentrations of gold are in adversity, in other successful people, and in yourself. Every adversity has a seed of a blessing in it if we look for it. As terrible as an experience may seem, couldn’t you find at least one good thing that resulted from the experience if you tried? If we don’t find it, the terrible experience becomes a terrible waste and our suffering was for not.
Another place is in other successful people. If there were someone that had successfully achieved a similar goal, you learned how they did it, and then took similar actions, could you not have a reasonable chance at success as well? Even those despicable people in history that did bad things can teach us about leadership, motivation, and mental toughness. Lastly, we all have passions and gifts that we can bring to this world if we choose. We have to dig deep inside, work through all the dirt and clutter (that was put there by others), and find out what drives us. What shall be our legacy?
“Everyone has something to teach if you are humble enough to learn.”
-Mark Driscoll, author and pastor
I dare you to share this with 5 people spend more time playing in the dirt than sifting for gold. It just might save their life. I appreciate every single one of you. Meet you at the top because the bottom’s is still and forever will be way too crowded.