Saturday 23 August 2008

Buried treasures

They say it’s not who you know, it's who you know had a nose job. They also say that where there's smoke, there may be smoked salmon. Let’s see. What else have we got buried away this fine winter's day. Oh yes, how about that fable from our old friend Aesop. And speaking of treasures, they say that money talks, but most of the time if you listen carefully enough the only word you will hear it say is good bye. And for those of you who think money can’t buy happiness then you probably just don’t know where to shop. Also, my health insurance is killing me; it’s costing me an arm and a leg. Ok ok, I was trying to be cynical or silly or something, and I was just trying to get your attention before we jump into our discussion for today.

A week ago I posted a fable from Aesop. And, the question I want to ask you today is: What do you have buried? I know so many people who have so much buried. And in so many senses of the word. Why do we hide money under our mattresses when we could put it do good use. And why do we ignore what is in our hearts. Following your dreams means taking a chance with your resources, and it means following your gut instincts. Yes, it means standing for something (and not falling for anything). You see, ladies and gentlemen, if you keep these resources (and desires) buried then you might as well bury your dreams alongside them.

An entrepreneur, in my opinion, takes chances. And entrepreneur would rather ask for forgiveness than for permission. This means that the buried lump of gold needs to be put on the table. And if it goes, then it goes. But without playing your hand you will never know. We are entering into a period of incredible anxiety and tough economic conditions. So, it would make sense that people would be burying their valuables more now than before. But I don’t buy it. True entrepreneurs will listen to their hearts and they will make bold decisions. And if they hit a brick wall, well, they will simply try again. This is how it works. No one ever got anywhere by burying their head, or their gold, in the ground.

Gandhi was once asked in an interview what he thought of Western civilization. And I remember the answer; it makes me ponder, and chuckle. He said, “I think it would be a very good idea.” Civilization is about progress. And progress comes from struggle. And risk taking is never without its struggles. Now, I am not saying that you must go and blow your hard earned savings on some crazy scheme, but I am saying that life is for living, and in these times of great uncertainty it would seem that nothing is a given and there are no sure things. So, take some chances. Believe in yourself. Be yourself. After all, these days it is even risky keeping money in the bank it would seem. So, if you have something buried away then let it out, and challenge yourself. And if you are interpreting what I am saying today along the lines of “spend your money” well, that’s just one idea. And not a bad idea when you consider how the falling Rand has led to such dramatic price increases on so many of our favourite goodies. But this is only one viewpoint. And not the most inspiring one. By buried treasure I am referring to those ideas, those passions, those talents, that you have deep inside you. Let them out. Write a poem. Sing a song. Dance like there’s nobody watching. And embrace life’s wonders.

In one of my favourite books, The Alchemist, we learn about a shepard and his incredible journey to reach the pyramids. All because of something that came to him in a dream. And in his journey he goes to hell and back, risking everything, and never really knowing if he would find his treasure. Faith is what keeps him going, and the wisdom of knowing that life truly is a journey. There is a compelling irony in the end when he reaches his destination only to discover that what he was looking for was right under his nose, and had been there all along. Read the book. You will cherish it and it will inspire you.

Life truly is about a journey and as we all know, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Your buried treasure is what that first step is all about. The journey is what lets you revel in these treasures. The journey also gives us perspective. And this is something that is needed in a big way in these mediocre times. More often than not, people are anxious about their disposition but if they had to count their blessings they are doing more than ok. These buried treasures I speak of today are in abundance. You all have them. So, use them, and embrace the journey.

Most of the time what we search for is a treasure we already have. Especially in the world of business. Why do so many great businesses suddenly fall from grace. Because some leader had still to go on a journey to hell and back to discover that things were actually more than ok back at the ranch. And this is becoming a greater paradox in this era of intense soul searching. We watch CNN at night, and we read the newspaper, and we think the world has gone mad. Well, the only thing that is mad will be if you don’t use the gold you got. Now I am I am not saying live reckless lives, but live. End of story. Just do it, as Nike says. If you had a week to go and you had treasures hidden somewhere, then what would be your plans for these buried dreams? Let me end off with a quote I found that inspired me, "Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Posted by Ronnie Apteker