In Ann Kiemel’s book I’m Out to Change My World, there’s a section in which the author is explaining to her mom about an ongoing difficulty she is experiencing in her life. Her mother’s reply goes like this:
I came across a gem of an article from a 1997 Reader’s Digest about what was then the world’s largest-producing diamond mine—the Argyle mine, in Western Australia. At its peak, it yielded tens of millions of carats per year, including 90% of all pink diamonds.
The story begins in 1969. Nine diamonds were found in the Leonard River. The geologists figured there must be a significant deposit in the area—but where? Like all good mysteries, these early discoveries were only tantalizing teasers of what might be.
Some people think that everyone has a place in life, and we all just need to find our place and “fill” it. Others believe that we are all free to make our own way, follow our own truth, and decide of our own accord what and who to be.
In the end, regardless of which path they choose, many people end up desperately searching for their little niche at home, at work, or in their group of friends or community, and wedging themselves tightly in, so pleased to have found it, and hoping to settle in for life.
Some time ago, I came across a quote that was attributed to Confucius, and it fits with this issue’s topic of investing in people and the importance of learning: “If your plan is for one year, plant rice. For ten years, plant trees. For a hundred years, educate people.”
A bit of further research showed that the Internet was mistaken, and the quote should actually have been credited to another Chinese philosopher named Guan Zhong. The exact translation is also slightly different, but the general meaning is the same, and I prefer the pithier version included above.
My favorite railway in the world is Australia’s Indian Pacific. The line runs between Sydney on the east coast to Perth on the west coast, traversing a whole continent and connecting two oceans, the Pacific and the Indian. It spans a distance of 4,352 km (2,704 miles) and crosses three time zones—farther than London to Istanbul.
One Monday morning, about an hour into the workday, I checked my emails. “Sad” was the subject heading of a personal message, and I opened it up, curiosity piqued. “Sad” did not begin to describe it. I learned that our friend Roy had died suddenly the day before. He had been cycling with his wife Sunday afternoon when he became the victim of a hit-and-run accident. The words swam before my eyes, and I functioned in a fog for the rest of the day.
The Bible has lots of advice on the type of people to surround yourself with. “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble,”1 for example, and, “Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits.”2
Popular messages today teach us to live in the moment, to practice mindfulness, to take a deep breath… But sometimes our moments are more than moments—they stretch out into seasons. And that requires taking more than one breath. One of the wonderful things about getting older is that I have lived for many seasons, and so have many of my friends. These seasons have given us insights, and as we go about collecting experiences, they become like jewels to be treasured.
During an especially busy time, I had a perspective adjustment that changed my outlook for the better.
I was involved in several major projects, had a huge amount of work to do, and was quite tired—almost exhausted.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of a young man who makes a million-dollar mistake in his company and is overwhelmed with stress and worry. A few days pass, and sure enough, his managers call him in and say to him:
“After spending a million dollars training you, I sure hope that you aren’t thinking of quitting!”