Acres of Diamonds by Russell H. Conwell is one of the most motivating and inspirational speeches I’ve come across.

I was so intrigued by the story that I searched for it on the internet and read Russell’s original version. Here’s the complete speech in case you’re interested.

I’ve come across different versions of the story shared in Russell Conwell’s speech. The version I love the most is told by Earl Nightingale in his audio program Lead the Field.

Below are summaries of both versions. I challenge you to put yourself in the story as the main character and see how you are currently standing on your acres of diamonds.

Earl Nightingale’s Acres of Diamonds

Earl Nightingale tells of an African farmer who had heard of people making a lot of money discovering diamond mines. The farmer was so intrigued that he sold off his farm and went prospecting for diamonds.

He prospected for a long time without success. Eventually, he got depressed, threw himself into a river, and drowned.

Back home, the person who had purchased the farm saw a shining rock as he was wandering around his property.

He thought the rock looked beautiful so he took it home and put it on the mantel. Sometime later, a visitor came to his home and almost fainted when he saw the ‘rock’.

He asked the farmer whether he knew what this was and the farmer replied that he didn’t. The visitor informed him that this was a diamond.

The farmer didn’t believe him and responded that there were a number of such rocks in the stream on his property.

That farm later turned out to be one of the largest diamond mines in Africa.

The first farmer had acres of diamonds under his feet. He sold his land for peanuts and went prospecting elsewhere without success.

Russell Conwell’s Acres of Diamonds

Russell Conwell’s lecture contains different stories, all with the same theme: someone who sold off his farm to go and look for minerals elsewhere.

The person that purchases the farm explores it and finds diamonds, oil, or gold. In all instances, cutting across continents, the seller loses while the buyer gains.

What’s even more interesting (and inspirational) for me, is the reason why Russell started telling this story.

You see, among other things, Russell was a church minister. One day some young men approached him and requested for funding to attend college. Russel wanted to help them out, but he didn’t have any money.

He told the young men to let him think about it and he thought about it for some time. Then he came up with an idea, which turned out to be his own acres of diamonds.

Russell had given a lecture called Acres of Diamonds and he had invitations to give it across America. So he decided to use this lecture to raise money for a college.

Russell estimated that he gave this lecture 6,152 times across the USA. His lectures raised millions of dollars which he used to set up Temple University.

Your acres of diamonds

Each day I listen to people telling me that they wish they were over there where:

  • Things are better.
  • Life is easier.
  • Their relationships are great.
  • They have an amazing spouse who is worth being with.
  • Their children are well-behaved.
  • The boss is uplifting and supportive.
  • They’re in their dream job that pays very well.
  • They’re in a business that they love, with money flowing into the business easily.

Always over there. Never right here.

We spend a lot of time looking at other pieces of land and forgetting to till our own pieces of land. And sometimes we sell or give away our acres, not realizing that the gems we’re seeking are right here.

In Lead the Field, Earl Nightingale notes that the reason why over there always looks great is because someone is taking good care of their land!

Now that’s an interesting concept, isn’t it?

Don’t you find it interesting that all you have to do is take care of your career, relationships, family, business…whatever it is that you’re currently involved in? I do.

All you have to do is explore and improve on what you have right now. With time, it will look as good as, or even better than, what you were looking at over there.

It takes time and consistent but correct action

Many times it seems easier to just jump and start over in the other place. It could be another job, a new business, a new house, a new relationship…

There’s an adrenaline high that comes with change. However, if you made the change to run away from something, soon enough, you’ll find yourself back to square one. Discontented.

If you want your life to change for the better, start cultivating your own acres. Start investing time in your career, relationships, children and family, business and of course in your personal growth.

Here are some tips for different areas of your life.

1. Quality vs quantity time

With relationships and family, quality time counts more than quantity. You can spend 30 minutes playing with your children or listening to them.

This will mean more than being home for 3 hours and you’re plopped in front of the television watching football or the latest Mexican soap opera.

The rule applies even more so in careers and businesses. People spend a lot of time jumping from one job to another.

Some start one business after another (or even multiple businesses at the same time) without realizing that only one would do.

2. Outshine yourself at work or in your career

If you want to be great in your career, the rule is simple: start being great in your career! All you need to do is find out what it means to be great in that specific career and then start doing it.

Learn more about it. Go back to school if you must. Start hanging out with people who are already where you are. Invest in your own personal development. Get a coach or mentor.

Move yourself up and when you least expect it, you will be at the top of the ladder.

However, remember to take Stephen Covey’s advice before you invest all this time, money and energy: make sure that your ladder is leaning against the right wall.

“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” ~ Stephen Covey

3. Gems in your current business or job

You may have started a business or gotten into a job that is not working out as you expected. However, now that you’re there, you can turn things around.

You are where you are. And that place you’re standing in right now is the right place for you in this moment. Explore the opportunities with patience and you will find gems that will astonish you.

You don’t have to be an expert. In fact, sometimes being an expert in something makes you a liability – most of the people who sold off their farms in Russell’s story were experts of one kind or another.

Instead, you just need to believe that you can make it a success. Put all your effort into mining the opportunities and you will succeed. Don’t jump ship before you have exhausted everything that you can possibly think of.

Lessons in Acres of Diamonds

1. You’re currently standing on your acres of diamonds

Learn what your diamonds look like and use your knowledge to prospect your acres. Forget about every other person’s pieces of land. Work on yours until you exhaust it.

If you have a business, job, or career that’s not doing so well, check out Earl Nightingale’s version of the story. He provides a list of diamond-mining questions that will help you identify opportunities within and around you.

2. Don’t underestimate where you are

Where you are today, and who you are with is great! It just depends of who is looking at it and where they are looking at it from. And this rule applies in all areas of life.

For example, when it comes to relationships, you find people complaining about their partners or spouses. Someone once told me that:

“Every man or woman is attractive and worthy of being fought over. If you’re a woman and you’re tired of your man, try putting him back in the (courting) market and see how fast he will be grabbed. If you’re a man and think your girl/wife is boring and no longer as exciting to be with as she used to be, then let her go back into the market and see how many men will rush after her.”

For as you are busy admiring other people’s ‘acres’, others are admiring yours. So work on improving your relationships instead of envying others.

3. Think carefully before making a commitment

In one of the versions of Russell’s story that I read, the writer went behind the scenes and explained what transpired when the young men asked Russell for help.

He didn’t give the young men an outright ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Instead, he listened to what they had to say to him and told them, “Let me think about it”.

His thoughts and observations revealed a gem of an idea that helped him raise enough money to start a University!

The moment I understood this principle, I stopped saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ immediately a request is made.

I used to say ‘Yes’ a lot and then cancel when this clashed with something else. This habit led to more than one fallout. Some people gave up on me because I was unreliable.

Today, I say, “Let me think about it” or “I’ll get back to you” and then take time to evaluate the idea or request before making a commitment or declining it.

Over to you…

Back to you my friend: Are you dissatisfied with your life, career, job, business, or relationship?

Have you been busy looking around for solutions in other places…for other pieces of land to prospect in?

Isn’t it time to explore what is right in front of you before moving to something else?

Isn’t it time you prospected in your land first?

In the prologue to the book Acres of Diamonds, Russell says:

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“Friends, this lecture has been delivered under these circumstances: I visit a town or city, and try to arrive there early enough to see the postmaster, the barber, the keeper of the hotel, the principal of the schools, and the ministers of some of the churches, and then go into some of the factories and stores, and talk with the people, and get into sympathy with the local conditions of that town or city and see what has been their history, what opportunities they had, and what they had failed to do – and every town fails to do something – and then go to the lecture and talk to those people about the subjects which applied to their locality.

“Acres of Diamonds” – the idea – has continuously been precisely the same. The idea that in this country of ours every man has the opportunity to make more of himself than he does in his own environment, with his own skill, with his own energy, and with his own friends.”

in Acres of Diamonds


If you are serious about making the most of your life, about taking what God has given you and making the best of it, read this statement.

Memorize and save it in your heart. For within it lies your wealth. Within it lies your own acres of diamonds.

(Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash)

    2 replies to "You’re Standing on Your Acres of Diamonds"

    • Judy

      Thank you, this is enlightening.

      • Caroline Gikonyo

        Thank you Judy. Hope you got some gems from the article and original lecture.

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