It’s been a number of years since I read this piece, and I’ve never read the whole thing intact before tonight. It is the great talk from Russell Conwell called “Acres of Diamonds,” and giving that talk thousands of times helped him fund and start Temple University.
In the talk, which many of you have heard told, Conwell tells the story of a man who left his farm in search of diamonds and wealth. Finally, lost and discouraged, the farmer killed himself. The man who bought the farm found pretty stones all over the yard. A visitor informed him that his land was littered with diamonds — but the first man had never looked at home before setting off on his quest.
It’s a good story to illustrate many truths, but the chief truth that we learn is that to look for treasure, we must first look within.
Many of us have great abilities, but we’ve ignored them. We have great potential, never utilized. We have enormous opportunities, but we’ve never found them. As in the story, we live on the potential of acres of diamonds — and yet we never search for them where they lay.
Conwell’s farmer never tried learning what diamonds looked like in their uncut state, and most of us have never thought about the treasures that we possess, when we have polished up our abilities a bit. Before searching for the treasure without, we must always first look for the treasure within — we need to look to ourselves, and the treasure we possess, the undeveloped opportunities we may find — and then search for the best way we can use those abilities.