Seventy five years ago, Saudi Arabia had little, if any, global significance. Oil had been discovered in Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain, and “the Kingdom”, as it would come to be known, had been largely overlooked having only recently been founded in 1932 after Abdul Aziz bin Saud battled rival tribes for twenty fives years and gained control of the region.
It is said that King Abdul, who was constantly strapped for liquidity, was told that his country was “like a man sleeping atop a treasure”. Today, we now recognize Ghawar as the world’s greatest super oil field and responsible for a significant part of the global energy supply. The odds are good that many of the items in your home and office were processed or fueled by the black gold that spewed from beneath those very sands. Carpet, baby oil, paints, plastics, car parts, computer components … Saudi oil is responsible for much of it.
What strikes me about this story is that regardless of the fact that Saudi Arabia was effectively broke, beneath its feet lay one of the greatest stores of wealth mankind has ever known. Had it not been extracted and the nation utilized its potential, it would have remained poor to this day. Instead, by converting raw resources into useful products, it has hurled what was the domain of goat herders into a worldwide power player capable of wielding the “oil sword” and determining the energy policy of a vast majority of civilization. It accomplished this in what amounted to less than sixty years.
[mainbodyad]The parallels for your own life are not insignificant. Some of you are capable of great things. You may be the best chef, the best artist, the best dentist, the best interior designer, the best elementary school teacher, or the best writer. But unless you do what is necessary to extract those resources, you will remain frustrated and broke. No one is going to come along and offer to do the work for you. You have to do the work. You have to make the decision.
To put it another way: Many of you are like the King of Saudi Arabia, sleeping atop a great treasure.
Talent isn’t enough. Unless you do the work to transform your raw potential resources into useful goods for society, you will die without ever having achieved the things of which you were capable. Had Warren Buffett not formed the Buffett investment partnerships, neither you nor I would ever have known his name.
Set your sights on what you want in life and then figure out how to use your natural God-given gifts to get there. Don’t wait until everything is perfect in your life to get started (otherwise, you will never begin because life is imperfect). Temper and refine those gifts to extract more out of yourself, just as today’s geologists can now access oil they couldn’t hope to touch back in the 1950’s and 1960’s thanks to better knowledge and understanding.