Looking for Dirt or Mining for Gold

 “Men are developed the same way gold is mined. Several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold. But you don’t go into the mine looking for dirt. You go in looking for gold.” - Dale Carnegie 

There was a time (some of you will recall) when images were captured on this medium called “film”. Special events were captured on little rolls of plastic. And then we would take those little rolls of plastic to the neighborhood drug store to be “developed”. A few days later, we would finally be able to see those images and enjoy re-living those special events all over again. Over time, these images become our most treasured possessions. 

Today, we’re a more “immediate” society. We capture those images and can see them immediately. 

All of this digital efficiency is great, but it does create an expectation for immediacy in every area. The problem with that is that some things still take time to develop. Specifically, PEOPLE take time to develop. For all its advances, thankfully, technology has not managed to digitize people. 

People are like those images we used to capture on film. If we give them time and invest in their development, they will become our greatest treasures. 

How do you develop people? 

Capture them in their best moments.
We all know those leaders who go in “looking for dirt”. If you’ve ever worked for someone like this, you know how draining it can be on employee morale. On the other hand, we love working for those who are “mining for gold.” It makes us feel valued, and we know that when we hit the mark, they will appreciate our efforts. When was the last time you praised an employee in front of their peers for something specific they did well? Or hand wrote a thank you note? What effect would capturing one of your team’s “best moments” each week have on your team’s morale? Determine that you will go in looking for gold

Bring them to expert developers.
When you look at the film, you see a negative. You don’t see the picture clearly. As a leader, you should bring your employees to expert developers who can help them reach their full potential. It’s about investing – taking an employee from where they are to where they never thought they could be. A wise man once said, “Don’t use your people to build your work; use your work to build your people.” It is no wonder that, one night, an employee put his life on the line for this man.

Give them time to grow into the potential you see. We are not a patient society, but when it comes to people, we must…simply…wait. Give them time to learn. 

More gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has been taken from the earth.

Treasure them.
I saw a Facebook post recently about two employees who were thanked at the beginning of the week for their outstanding work; only to be let go on Friday as the company experienced a reduction in force. Companies like this do not truly treasure their employees. Hard decisions may have to be made, with the economy being what it is today, but never make those decisions without honoring and helping your people deal with the difficult change you are about to inflict upon their lives.

Do your employees know you treasure them? Do you honor them and genuinely care about them? 

Are YOU a “developer of people”? Are you looking for dirt or mining for gold?


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