Diamonds and Parking: What's Up with That?
January, 2002In 1884, there was a young man who found it impossible to pay for an education. Ultimately, he approached Dr. Herman Conwell at a Sunday church service to inquire as to Dr. Conwell's availability to teach him to be a minister. Upon hearing this rather strange request, Dr. Conwell determined that there must be a multitude of kids in need of an education and a place to receive affordable schooling.
It was then that he decided to go out to deliver his message in a speech that would help raise the millions of dollars needed for such an institution. His efforts were successful and Dr. Conwell became the founder of Temple University, a higher education institution that now holds the rank of being among the country's leading universities.
I have personally used Dr. Conwell's speech in several presentations and now feel its introduction into the parking industry should wait no further.
The story is the account of an African farmer who had heard tales about other farmers making millions of dollars by discovering diamond mines. These tales so excited the farmer that he could barely wait to sell his farm to venture into diamond prospecting himself. He eventually sold his farm, left his family with a neighbor and spent the remainder of his life wandering the African continent, searching unsuccessfully for the markets of the world. Finally, so the story goes, worn out and in total despair, the farmer threw himself into a river and drowned.
At precisely the same time, the present owner of the farm happened to be crossing a small stream on the property when he noticed a bright flash of blue and red light the water's bottom. He bent down to pick up the object, which turned out to be a stone of some sort. After admiring the beauty of the stone, he stuck it in his pocket to be retrieved later and placed upon the fireplace mantel as a "curiosity" piece.
Several weeks later, a visitor to his home picked up the stone to admire its uniqueness. However, upon a closer look, his eyes grew wide and he felt as if he would faint. His excitability was obvious as he asked the farmer if he was aware of his find. The farmer replied that he had assumed the stone was an illustrious piece of crystal. The visitor quickly pointed out that the farmer had discovered one of the largest and most exquisite diamonds he had ever seen. The farmer, finding this news somewhat humorous, told his visitor that his creek was full of such stones -- not as large, perhaps, as the one on the mantel, but nevertheless sprinkled generously throughout the creek's bottom.
Hence, the land the original farmer had sold so that he might find a diamond mine turned out to be the most productive diamond mine on the entire African continent. He roamed aimlessly in an effort to seek his riches only to find his fortune was simply sitting in his own backyard.
The moral of this story is clear: If the first farmer had taken the time to study and prepare himself -- to learn what diamonds looked like in their rough state -- he would not have had to look elsewhere for his dreams to come true. In other words, look what you have before you before going off to untested waters.
The thing about this story that so profoundly affected Dr. Conwell, and, subsequently, millions of others, is the idea that each of us is, at this moment, standing in the middle of his or her own acres of diamonds. If we exhibit the wisdom and patience necessary to intelligently and effectively explore the work in which we are now engaged, we will inevitably find the riches we seek -- whether financial or intangible or both. Before you run off to what we perceive as greener pastures, make sure that what you have isn't as green or, perhaps, even greener. If you notice a greener pasture, maybe that pasture has been given better care. And always remember, all the while you are looking at the other person's pasture -- someone else is looking at yours.
We are all currently in our chosen field of work for some reason. If you find yourself unhappy then, by all means, take the initiative to find something that best meets your particular needs. However, before taking this step, ask yourself these simple questions:
1. Do I really know all there is to know in my chosen field of work?
2. Have I read all the books and manuals available to read?
3. Have I attended and actively participated in seminars?
And, most importantly:
4. Have I consistently given 100%?
If you have answered yes to all of these questions, then by all means go for it -- just make sure you haven't left any large uncovered diamonds behind.
Robert Milner is Assistant Director of Parking at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. He has been in the public sector as a senior manager with Penn and Central Parking. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.