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Great Leaders and Diamonds

One night a group of nomads were preparing to retire for the evening when suddenly they were surrounded by a great light. They knew then, that they were in the presence of a celestial being. With great anticipation, they awaited a heavenly message of great importance that they knew must be especially for them.

Finally, the voice spoke, "Gather as many pebbles as you can. Put them in your saddle bags. Travel a day's journey and tomorrow night will find you are glad and also find you are sad."

After having departed, the nomads shared their disappointment and anger with each other. They had expected the revelation of a great universal truth that would enable them to create wealth, health and purpose for the world. But instead they were given a menial task that made no sense to them at all. However, the memory of the brilliance of their visitor caused each one to pick up a few pebbles and deposit them in their saddle bags while voicing their displeasure.

They travelled a day's journey and that night while making camp, they reached into their saddle bags and discovered every pebble they had gathered had become a diamond. They were glad they had diamonds. They were sad they had not gathered more pebbles.

The pebble story reminds me that every experience, whether small, overwhelming, joyful, or upsetting, is a pebble we find on the road. If we leave it there on the road and glean nothing from it, then we will end up with an empty bag at the end of our journey.
However, if we begin to cherish and appreciate every pebble, learn something from it, and keep it in our bags, we will finish our journey with a bag full of diamonds.


I know you are busy, but I have a quick challenge... have a look at your calendar and review last month. How much time did you spend reflecting and learning? Did you have any time blocked out in your diary? If like many others I bet you didn't spend very much time! Am I right?

How can this be? In a world where we are constantly asked to achieve more from less (which really means it's time to innovate) how come we don't spend time thinking and learning about how to do what we do more efficiently? I have another challenge for you. When do most mistakes get made? When you are calm and relaxed or when you are busy rushing around? So when is the best time to stop and reflect....? I'll let you work that one out!!

If you find yourself one of the "normal" people, i.e. really busy... I have a suggestion. We can speed up by slowing down as long as we spend time learning and applying the new wisdom. As leaders we need to create diamonds.

Here is a powerful learning process you can start using immediately yourself and with your team to improve result

How to use it

When you're facilitating this process it's important to remember to follow these steps:

  1. Create a relaxed environment, grab some refreshments, your team and a flip chart.  Make it as informal as possible.
  2. Review what has been happening (decide on a time frame) and ask what has gone well and not so well in the following areas:                                                                                                                                                                                                         Outcomes - benefits achieved                                                                                                                                                           Outputs - goals achieved
    Activity - what you did
    Methods - how you did it
    Behaviours - what you saw externally
    Feelings - what was going on internally
    Go beyond the normal review of results and get to the heart of learning...focus on the how you did it and how you felt.
  3. This is a really important step and often missed because we rush into action! Once you have all the data on a flip chart ask why did that happen? Why were we successful? Why weren't we successful? Why were they behaving like that? Use theory, models, and frameworks to help you understand why.
  4. Now it's time to plan. What are you going to stop, start and continue doing?
  5. Do more action and then start the process again when appropriate!

Have fun and learn lots! Go turn those pebbles into diamonds.

Please let me know what you think about this blog in the comment box below. It will help me to learn!

Every success


About the author

Graham Wilson

Graham Wilson

I enjoy and specialise in teaching leadership skills, how to create winning strategies, how to build high performance cultures. Outcomes and results are the most important measures for me!