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You are a diamond in the rough

I haven’t written this down before, it’s a story I tell.  I read about it 20 years ago and gradually it has become a way of looking at life. It isn’t perfectly representative of the industry it describes but that’s not the point. I told to a friend who’s an addict, and he asked me to write it down. Maybe it can help you too.

A diamond is beautiful, with symmetrical facets that catch the light and seem to contain a fire. People get transfixed by diamonds, and live and die getting them out of the Earth.

The gemstone doesn’t start out beautiful. To some it’s mystical and fascinating even in this state but to many it looks like an ugly lump of broken glass. The diamond cutter has a mixture of experience and imagination, and an ugly crystal when he starts out.

The diamond cutter can understand  the critical fracture point of the stone. He shapes the diamond by finding that point and tapping it with a hammer. Even though the hammer is soft, the hardest material known splits at the point he strikes.

The diamond cutter does this again and again until he has discovered the crystalline patterns that we admire.

That process of chipping away is a lot like how we create our futures and manage our affairs.

Here’s the thing, though, that makes the diamond cutter’s job so dependent on his imagination, experience, persistence and adaptability:

The diamond cutter cannot see the end from the beginning. He cannot see the next fracture point for certain until he has made the next cut.

(I understand that today, scanning technology gives a much better chance of planning the end from the beginning, but that’s not the point of the story)

He has to have an idea for the future, a goal. He knows he is creating a gemstone. ‎

He has to analyze the present.

But he has to  have faith to ‎take the next step, knowing as he does that his plan will have to change. And he can’t know  what changes he’ll make to his plan until he has made that cut.

He has to have experience and experience comes from failure.‎When I see a diamond, I don’t just see the gemstone in all its glory.

I see the experience and faith of the cutter.

But more than that, I see the failures. The years of learning the hard way that were turned to good account and went into being able to create this thing that only gives you one chance.

Embrace failure, get direction, take another step!