Acres of Diamonds
One of the most interesting Americans alive around the
turn of the century was a man by the name of Russell Herman Conwell.
He was born in 1843 and lived until 1925. He was a lawyer for about
fifteen years, and then he became a clergyman (I think he was a Baptist).
One day, a young man came to him at the church and told
him he wanted a college education, but was in such a fix financially
that he just couldn’t swing it. Dr. Conwell decided right then
and there what his aim in life was, besides being a man of the cloth,
this is. He decided to build a university for the poor, but deserving,
youngsters. He had a problem, however. He’d need a few million
dollars to swing the deal. But things like that don’t seem to
stand in the way of people with a real purpose in life.
Several years before, Dr. Conwell had been tremendously
intrigued by a true story, which had an ageless moral to it. The story
was about a farmer who lived in Africa and, through a visitor, became
tremendously excited about looking for diamonds. Diamonds had already
been discovered in some abundance on the African continent, and this
farmer got so excited about the idea of millions of dollars worth of
diamonds that he sold his farm and headed out to strike it rich by discovering
a diamond mine. He wandered all over the continent, as the years slipped
by, constantly searching for diamonds, which he never found. He finally
wound up completely broken by the whole thing, became despondent, threw
himself into a river, and drowned.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (or rather the farm he’d
sold), the new owner had picked up an unusual looking rock about the
size of a country egg, and put it on his mantle as a sort of curiosity.
Some time later, the same visitor, the one who had brought
the story of diamonds to the previous owner, came by again, and when
seeing this rock on the mantle, practically went into terminal convulsions.
Pulling himself together, he told the new owner of the farm that the
funny looking rock on his mantle was just about the biggest diamond
that had ever been found.
Whereupon the new owner of the farm said, “Heck,
the whole farm’s covered with those things,” or words to
Sure enough, it was. If my memory serves me right, this
farm turned out to be the Kimberly Diamond Mine . . . the richest the
world has ever known.
The farmer who’d sold the place had literally been
standing on acres of diamonds, and then sold his farm and wound up in
the river because he never found any.
In telling this story, Dr. Conwell likened each
of us to the first farmer. Each of us really is right in the middle
of his or her own acres of diamonds if only we have enough sense to
realize it and develop the ground we’re standing on before we
go charging off looking for greener pastures.
Dr. Conwell told this story more than six-thousand times.
He must have been a terrific speaker, because he attracted enormous
audiences, and he raised enough money to start that college for poor
but deserving kids he had his heart set on. In fact, he raised about
six million dollars and the university he founded is still going strong;
it’s Temple University in Philadelphia, with ten degree-granting
colleges and six other schools.
When Doctor Russell H. Conwell talked about each of us
being right on his or her own acres of diamonds, he surely knew what
he was talking about. It’s a story that can’t get old .
. . because it’s been true forever . . . and I guess it always
You know . . . opportunity
doesn’t just “come along” as most people think. It’s
there all the time - we have to be able to see it.