Human beings appear to be in a permanent state of dissatisfaction with their lives. We don’t like who we are or what we look like. We don’t believe what we have is good enough. We don’t think what we can do is adequate. To make matters worse, we tend to prefer what belongs to someone else. Unfortunately, this has affected our attitude to most things in life, even opportunities. We tend to look far into the distance in search of great opportunities while we despise the ones closest to us.
Dr. Russell Conwell, in his all-time classic titled “Acres of Diamonds” told the story of a wealthy Persian named Ali Hafed. Ali had great gardens, farms, grain fields and orchards. He was contented with his possessions, well, until an ancient Buddhist priest paid him a visit. The priest told him that a diamond the size of his thumb could buy him a country while he could have great influence and place his children on thrones with a diamond mine. Almost instantly, Ali felt poor because he became aware of what he didn’t have but could have. His sense of loss was so great that he couldn’t sleep. Eventually, Ali took off in search of diamonds in rivers running through white sand between high mountains but not before selling his entire possession and leaving his family with a neighbour. He journeyed through Palestine and Europe. By the time he arrived at Barcelona, his money was all spent; out of wretchedness, poverty and depression, he flung himself under a great tidal wave and ended his journey there.
Meanwhile, the man who purchased Ali Hafed’s farm took his camel out into the garden for watering one day and noticed a curious black stone reflecting light. He took it home and displayed it as a decoration until the same old priest who told Ali about diamonds came to visit. The priest recognized the stone as a piece of diamond to the surprise of Ali’s successor. They both rushed to the garden and discovered several other stones like it. According to Dr. Conwell, it is historically true that the garden became the most magnificent diamond mine known to mankind.
Aren’t a lot of us like Ali these days? We go in search of what we already have just to appreciate it after we have lost it. Dr. David Oyedepo puts it aptly when he said “If you think enough, what you have is enough”. Unfortunately, we hardly take time to think before we embark on our quests for fortune. Here are a few lessons we can learn from Ali Hafed:
1. Wealth is perception and perception is wealth: a wealthy man may become poor overnight without losing a dime if he decides what he has is nothing compared to what he wants. On the other hand, a poor man may become wealthy overnight without earning a dime if he realises that he has gifts no money can buy. A positive state of mind is the foundation for success.
2. Use what you have to get what you want: no matter how meager what you have is, it is the key to what you can have. If a farmer decides that his seeds are too meager to plant, he will forfeit his harvest. Instead of using his wealth to fund an expedition while still running his business, Ali decided to sell all and he lost all.
3. Exhaust all possibilities before moving on: we are usually too quick to conclude that our present conditions lack the potentials to produce our desired results. Before you give up on that job, relationship or business, make sure there are no benefits you have missed out on all this while.
4. Become unfamiliar to appreciate what you have: sometimes, we become too familiar with what we have and we miss out on its benefits. Have you ever become tired of your smart phone and you wanted to replace it yet someone else seemed so excited about the phone? Within a few minutes, the person might have explored functions you never knew existed on the phone. The fact that you consider your phone indispensable doesn’t mean you maximise its functions.
5. What you have may be the original: when you think your hands are empty, you are perhaps not looking close enough. Don’t be too quick to drop what is in your hand, it may be the original.
There are several other lessons we can learn from the story of Ali Hafed. Why not share your own lessons by commenting below.