Get The Thirst for Digging (more lessons from a long-lost book)

So, I’m down visiting my parents and helping out by doing a bunch of house cleaning, including rummaging through some old books (my favorite kind of cleaning). As I mentioned yesterday, digging through the piles I found an old leather-bound book from 1926 called “As A Man Doeth”, that belonged to my grandfather. It’s the collected Monday morning motivational writings of William Danforth, the founder and president of Ralston Purina, of animal feed fame. Here’s another fun note he wrote.

Along the magnificent semi-circular harbor of the Mediterranean Sea on the coast of Northern Algeria lies the picturesque little town of Bone. Nearby are some ruins of the ancient city of Hippone, where around 400 A. D. Saint Augustine lived and wrote his “Confessions” and his “City of God.” Some thirty years ago, a farmer was ploughing in the fields close by and his plow kept striking a stone. He decided to remove the stone and started to dig it out. But instead of a stone he found a marble column that dated back 1500 years and was part of an ancient Roman palace. Digging down still farther he discovered priceless mosaic floors of the Fourth Century. Then, his appetite whetted, he dug still deeper and found more mosaic floors of the first century. Still not content, he kept digging and unfolded huge stone piers that had once been a Phoenician embankment built about 800 B. C.

Here’s a discovery we all can make:

That stone or obstacle in our lives may have been put there by Providence to make us dig. Unheeded and unconquered it will worry us all the days of our lives. But if we go after it in a determined way, and dig it out, we will discover hidden wealth underneath.

So dig, Brother Purina Men, dig deep!

I just find it wonderful that a man making “Purina Horse Chow” tells stories about St Augustine and the Roman empire to inspire his workforce.

Curiosity is a powerful force. It’s one of the key traits I interview for when I’m recruiting. Curious people figure things out; incurious people don’t. More generally, I think it is far more important to interview for intrinsic personality traits than skills. Skills can be taught or self-taught. It’s very hard to teach curiosity or passion or work ethic or creativity.

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