A Diamond In The Rough

I love to study nature to try and figure out how it works because, to me, nature is both beautiful and practical. That’s what Ray Dalio says in his amazing book “Principles.” I’m starting to resonate with this as I pull some from the pages of mother nature herself. Whether it’s a crab painfully enduring shedding off her shell to ensure her growth, teaching us that substantial growth only happens outside of our comfort zones, to sunsets telling us that endings can be beautiful as well, to even butterflies as they metamorphosize affirming that we’re constantly evolving beings and shouldn’t resist change, for some of the most beautiful changes occur as you grow older. We could go on and on and on but where do we draw the line? “The Diamond.”

I came across this quote some time ago, “A diamond is a chunk of coal that handled stress exceptionally well.” I thought it a metaphor of some sort, for the two seem like totally different strokes. As it turns out though, not exactly. Now forgive me for getting technical here. The diamond you see, in this natural process actually starts out as a simple piece of coal, until a molten rock heats pure carbon under tremendous pressure which causes the diamond crystals to be formed. Volcanic activity will, over time, then push the diamond to the earth’s surface where it can be found buried by miners. Fascinating, isn’t it? At this point they’re not shiny and pretty, so their value isn’t seen immediately by the untrained eye. Hence the phrase ‘Diamond in the rough.’ Then the diamond still has to get cleaned and polished before it will shine and become the beautiful gem we’ve become accustomed to seeing on high-end jewelry. If you are to take away only one thing from this, let it be; one common origin unites us all, but every sort of wood does not give the perfume of the lignum aloes.

A diamond in the rough is basically someone with great talent and potential but hasn’t been discovered yet. Someone with the capability of doing remarkable things but still lacking the necessary training and refinement to get to where they actually can be. A person in need of guidance. Someone whom people take to be mediocre and simply average when in fact they’re staring directly into the face of greatness. And coming to think of it; this is you, this is me, we’re diamonds in the rough…mistaking ourselves, and often mistaken by many for just shiny pieces of coal.

Realize that you’re the master of your fate, the captain of your soul. You can be whatever you set your heart to as long you trust fully in your capabilities. BE aware that you are rare. You’re a diamond in the rough. Rid yourself of all the mental hurdles and limitations you’ve placed upon yourself and trust me you’re going to go on and on, grow into more of a phenomenon. Ultimately, they’re going to put you on a pedestal, embellishing your elegance, that you wouldn’t have thought possible. You’re a being so impeccable and unparalleled, act like it. Forge your own path. Instead of working to stand out from the crowd, avoid crowds altogether. Uncover the uniquely amazing ‘you’.

Like a diamond needs polishing, you need to constantly work on yourself. You’re a masterpiece in the making. Smoothen rough edges without totally losing your edge. Get a mentor, a teacher, someone who’s done it or just far ahead of you. This will ensure smooth sailing by learning to avoid some of the most common setbacks in your path. You CANNOT do it alone. For those who can’t find a mentor, read a book. You know what they say, reading is the equivalent of learning from hundreds of mentors. There’s literally a book for everything. Imagine grasping all about financial literacy from Robert Kiyosaki, making wise investments from Warren Buffett, what it takes to succeed from Napoleon Hill to even the whole basis of human interaction from Dale Carnegie. That puts you far up above. Have no room for excuses and always be on the run. It’s your time to shine.

The sad reality in life though is that most people live and then leave this world without uncovering their true potential. It’s not easy you see. For coal to turn to diamonds, tremendous pressure and temperatures needs to be applied over a great period. The same applies to me and you. When treading the road less travelled, the path to greatness, you’re going to encounter a lot of adversities over a sumptuous amount of time. Sacrifices upon sacrifices are to be made in the form of attachments, free time and many of the things you’ve become accustomed to. A heavy price which most aren’t willing to pay, hence settling for average. DON’T SETTLE.

One thing’s for sure, when they tell you to write about your experiences in the future, it’s not going to feel like ripping off pages from the dark cornerstones within and sewing them into paragraphs for their entertainment. All this pain will wither and wear off as you leave everyone else in awe of your accomplishments. Be the testament of the lengths that one could go to if only they ignored everyone else and dared to dream. I’m going to end this with a quote from this amazing lady who’s been an inspiration to me by the name Salma Abdulatif; “Inside every human being are treasures to be unlocked…. Unlock yours.”

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Hassan Kassim

Hassan Kassim is a Mombasa-based Creative non-fiction writer, recently longlisted for the Toyin Falola prize, blogger and translator of Kiswahili work. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa and the European Union(E.U), and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management. Hassan writes about the ill-documented Communities of Coastal Kenya. His work has appeared in Writers Space Africa; his 2 non-fiction stories published in the anthology 'Twaweza,' a collaborative effort of 12 African writers on the African identity and set to appear in the forthcoming anthology for the Toyin Falola prize.


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Hassan Kassim is a Kenyan-based Creative non-fiction writer, blogger and translator of Kiswahili works with over 2 years of experience. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa, and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management.


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