Recently I heard a re-telling of an old story about a young man who decided to seek his fortune. He sold all that he had and went west to stake his claim as part of the gold rush. He heard that the rivers were full of large gold nuggets.
He found what seemed to be a good spot, and started to pan for gold. A few months later he found himself completely destitute. Never having found any gold nuggets.
An old prospector with a large gold pouch came though and asked how the young man had been fairing. Discourage, the young man exclaimed that the claim was completely gold-less.
The old prospector grabbed a pan, and scooped up some sand and silt from the river. Swishing it around, he revealed many tiny flecks of gold, and showed it to the young man.
The young man declared, "I don't want flecks of gold, I want nuggets like what's in your pouch."
The old prospector took his gold pouch, opened it up, and revealed that the entire contents were tiny flecks of gold.
He explained to the young man that his pouch was the fruits of many years worth of labor, and dedication. And that he had amassed great wealth.
Like the young prospector, so many people are unwilling to put in the time and effort required for success. They want instant gratification and riches. They look to the old prospectors as having more than their "fair" share. Not taking into account the years of preparation, hard work, and perseverance.
Many of today's college graduates enter the work force expecting "large gold nuggets" readily available to them. They don't understand the value of tiny flecks of experience. Some even show contempt for the "old prospectors."
There is nothing wrong with starting at the bottom. It helps people appreciate later successes.
There was a time where my husband and I really struggled. We were trying to get an education and raise a young family. We look back and joke that we figured out 100 ways to cook tuna fish. (We had a case in the pantry, and had almost nothing else to eat!)
Those were difficult times, but are still some of our favorite moments. We look back and we appreciate the values we learned and the motivations we gained to work harder so we can have some financial freedom.
We need to look for more opportunities to pan for little flecks, and not just at government to provide benefits. We need to be allowed to succeed or fail. To be rewarded for your hard work and innovation and not punished for your successes. To remove the roadblocks that businesses and entreprenuers struggle with.
We are still prospecting and gathering small flecks everyday. We are trying to teach our children the same lessons about hard work and perseverance.
(Pictured: Kolditz children)