Monday, December 18, 1995
It’s not what you have, it’s what you do with it
In the nineteenth century, before the invention of the internal combustion engine, crude oil was a nuisance. No one wanted it on their property -- it fouled the land and the water.
Then came the internal combustion engine, and the automobile, and the petroleum business. Suddenly, there was a huge market for crude oil because someone had figured out something useful to do with it.
Nothing other than life itself really has intrinsic value. In order for anything to have value, you must know what to do with it. And the more productively you can use it, the more value it has.
At the heart of most computers is a microprocessor chip made primarily of silicon. Silicon is more abundant in nature than any other element except for oxygen. As you walk down any beach in the world, the sand beneath your feet is composed largely of silicon. Yet silicon, when processed into a computer chip, can be worth thousands of times its weight in gold. What is it that makes silicon so valuable? It’s not the material itself -- it’s the fact that someone has taken it and purified it and processed it into something extremely useful.
Knowing what to do with something is more important than the thing itself. This holds true not only for tangible, material things but also for things such as ideas, business contacts, skills and information. Most people are caught up in the endless pursuit of trying to get enough, of trying to have enough. Such an approach will never work, because just having enough is never enough. You must know what to do with it. In fact, when you know what to do with what you have, you’ll discover that you already have enough.
That is a very powerful concept. It frees you from the dead-end approach of getting, and focuses you on the wealth-creating approach of giving.
What if a manufacturing plant opened up, and all they did was stockpile raw materials? Certainly the raw materials are necessary for productive manufacturing. If nothing is done with them, though, they are virtually worthless. To produce wealth, the people operating the plant need to figure out what to do with all those raw materials, and then they need to do it.
The same holds true for you. In order to produce wealth, you need to figure out what to do with what you’ve got. How can you produce maximum value for others, using the skills, knowledge, contacts and resources at your disposal? Answer that question, and you’ll immediately start creating wealth.
Ralph MarstonAsk yourself this question
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