Baptist minister Russell Conwell accomplished many things in his lifetime, but his most resonant and remembered speech turned essay, turned book is Acres of Diamonds.

The idea that you can do great things with what you have, just where you are, no matter where you are, inspired countless people across the world and still inspires newcomers to this day.

In reading Acres of Diamonds, I found Conwell well ahead of his time, and I came away either discovering a new facet of – or reinforcing – several of my beliefs. Here’s what I learned.

It’s Your Duty to Get Rich

In a time when the “prosperity gospel” would have been exceedingly controversial (though it still is), Conwell pragmatically asserts that getting rich is your duty.

Why? Because opportunities and the seeds of invention are everywhere. You don’t need to go elsewhere to find them. And all things being equal, it’s better to have the options money makes available than not. No advantages or benefits are afforded to the financially humble.

I love how Conwell says this without mincing words. It’s a call to abandon your preconceptions and long-held beliefs about money and to start creating your wealth without reservation.

Abandon your preconceptions and long-held beliefs about money and start creating your wealth without reservation. Click To Tweet

The Same Stories are Told Repeatedly to Program You

Conwell offers the example of crooked and dishonest wealthy people. His independent claim is that such stories are repeated, publicized, and spread widely to reinforce the idea that “rich people are bad,” when such stereotypes are in the decided minority.

Of course, your desire to be rich would be lessened by the idea that you will become “bad” when you finally attain wealth.

It is an excellent reminder to start thinking for yourself and to question everything. No one has a gun to your head telling you to be rich and awful. You can be rich and amazing.

No one has a gun to your head telling you to be rich and awful. You can be rich and amazing. Click To Tweet

Find Out What the People Want and Supply It

The chief means to wealth, says Conwell, is to uncover what people want and to supply it. If people keep coming to your store asking for a specific product that you don’t provide, it may be time to start stocking it. If something is not working in your day-to-day, such as a belt, it may be time to invent a new belt that boasts better function and utility.

What do people come to you for? Or, what in your life isn’t working? These questions can illuminate your path to prosperity.

The Officeholder is the Servant of the People

Here Conwell states a fundamental truth that is well ignored by today’s officeholders. Dictates and mandates have all but taken the place of public opinion and voting. Today, governments seem as though they are either actively avoiding – or are deeply afraid of – people.

To be Great at All, One Must be Great Here and Now

A title will not make you great. A medal will not make you great. Awards will not make you great. Greatness is within the individual – that’s where it begins and ends. If you begin with greatness, the achievements will only have you shine all the brighter. But adding greatness to someone who is not great here and now will do little for their status long-term.

BONUS: Show Up, Do the Work, and Repeat the Winning Strategies

Conwell gave countless speeches across the world. His most prolific was Acres of Diamonds. By his admission, he didn’t know why Acres of Diamonds outshone the rest. There were other works he was surely proud of. But once he found the right note to hit, he kept hitting it, reportedly over 6,100 times!

Conwell’s speech may not have been perfect. Some even found the included stories and examples a little superfluous and hard to relate to. No matter. The message landed.

Decide now to get going, keep going, and never give up until you’ve found your winning strategy. Then, keep playing that note until the crowd cries “uncle” (they probably won’t!). But don’t be stubborn. Be willing to adjust. The opportunity you’ve been waiting for could be right in front of you.

Decide now to get going, keep going, and never give up until you’ve found your winning strategy. Click To Tweet

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