Don’t Lock Your Potentials In; Let Them Breathe!

don't compare yourself with others quotes

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.

Here are a few lessons we can learn from Ali Hafed:

  • 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 money can’t buy. A positive state of mind is the foundation for success.
  • 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.
  • 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’ve overlooked.
  • Become unfamiliar to appreciate what you have: sometimes, we become too familiar with what we have and we miss out on its benefits. When what you have become too common to you, you have lost your ability to appreciate its value.
  • 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.

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Remember, you are currently nothing compared to what you can become. Don’t lock your potentials in; let them breathe!

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