A Diamond in a Haystack

Published on April 28th, 2020
A swirl of hay.

What would be more difficult and tedious than searching for a needle in a haystack? I imagine if one actually attempted this, it could take hours or even days of painstaking focus to sift through the noise before finding a needle. But why would one spend the time and effort to find something with so little value? This is why we use the phrase to indicate a pursuit not worth pursuing.

However, what if we changed the game?

What if instead of a worthless needle, there were multiple expensive diamonds? Of course, one could use different techniques to find it (such as shining a light in the hopes of catching refraction off the gemstone). But setting that aside, it would change one’s motivation and reward for pursuing such a pursuit.

Let's Talk About You

Now consider this. Are there diamonds inside you?

No, I’m not talking about literal diamond (if that was the case, please call your doctor). I’m talking about the gifts that were inside of you the moment you were born (and that will remain there until the moment you die).

We are all born with latent potential. However, most of our potential stays dormant because we don’t believe it’s there. And even if we do, then there are other excuses why we don’t start the search. We believe it’ll be too hard to unearth or that it won’t be worth the effort. We act like this potential is a worthless needle in a haystack instead of a collection of precious diamonds. And so we stop or never even start our search. What a tragedy!

A Personal Example

Writing and communication skills have probably had more of an impact on my career and income than my degree. The funny thing is, I would have never guessed that would be the case back when I was preparing to go off to college. The reason? In high school, many of my teachers focused solely on the fact that I was good at math and science. However, my writing voice and style was only good enough to get good grades, but nothing that stood out. I also found it to be very tedious and unfulfilling. As a result, I end up just going through the motions to get through the class because English class felt like such a waste of time.

Fast forward to college, where I took a few classes in poetry and discovered a love for it. I loved the freedom to abandon grammatical conventions. It was a fun game of trying to cram as much meaning into as few words as possible. It was something that I could do off of a creative impulse. It changed me. I was no longer apathetic to writing. It sparked a love for writing that has yet to extinguish.

Poetry led to taking some copywriting courses and to blogging. In my career, I started to put a lot of energy and effort into things like documentation and email communications. These skills have benefitted me in so many ways that it would be hard to enumerate them all. I credit it for how I met my wife. One white paper for the Drupal community led me to two career changes and two salary raises of 20% apiece. And I can go on.

While I’m nowhere near accessing my full potential as a writer, it’s a skill that I never knew I had and one that I love to lean into and use whenever I can. It’s a pursuit worth pursuing despite the amount of effort and searching it takes to improve.

Pursuits Worth Pursuing

Here’s the thing.

A lot of life’s treasures take determination and discipline to find. It can feel like a lot of effort sifting through the noise to find what it is you’re looking for. You can lose hope. “I’ve been searching for so many years, and I still didn’t find it.” You can start to question if you’ll ever find it. You may even abandon the pursuit.

But there are gifts within you. You just gotta believe they are there as well as pursuit worth pursuing... and then start digging.

And there are gifts within others. You just gotta look beyond the superficial and see the beautify and grace within them... and then keep looking.

The dreams and goals we have all started off as small glimmers that we call ideas. Those that keep searching and sifting and pursuing can turn those into reality.

You just need to believe and go after it like it's a pursuit worth pursuing.

Photo by Lucas Gallone on Unsplash

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.