Strategy

14th May 2015

Tin Foil or Gold Bars?

Tin Foil or Gold Bars?

 

Today aluminium is so cheap and so plentiful that we use aluminium foil (tin foil) to wrap our sandwiches, to cover our meat as we roast it and to hold charcoal for as long as it takes a disposable barbecue to do what it has to do. It has become the ultimate disposable metal in our throw away world.

 

Napoleon III threw a banquet for the king of Siam where the most honoured guests were given aluminium utensils while the rest had to make do with gold. During the early 1800s aluminium was still rare enough to be considered more valuable than gold.

 

Apparently aluminium is the third most abundant element in the earths crust making up 8.3 per cent of the weight of the world. (Who works these things out?). What made it so rare and therefore so valuable was the fact that it never appears in nature as a pure metal, unlike gold. It has a high affinity with oxygen and is usually found as an oxide or silicate in a clay like material called bauxite.

 

While aluminium was difficult to extract it remained rare and very valuable. The invention of a new technology to cheaply extract aluminium has caused it to become the plentiful metallic mainstay of our disposable world.

 

This got me to think about another resource that is extraordinarily plentiful and powerful but not so easily extracted from its natural state; the human brain and the power of thought.

 

We all have a brain, we are all capable of thought but how many of us access the true power of our thought and therefore our potential? Sir John Whitmore said that “Our performance equals our potential minus our internal interferences” what if we could quieten some of those interferences and therefore allow more of our potential to surface? How fantastic would that be, for us, for the people around us and for the world in general?

 

This is not a question of IQ, whatever we mean by that. In 10 years of growing the business leader to grow the business I have never once come across a situation where IQ has been the limiting factor in performance, but every day I meet people who haven’t yet learned to allow themselves to think at a higher level. Change is never a question of ability. It is always a question of motivation.

 

Richard Bandler wryly observed that “People spend more time learning how to use a food processor than they do learning how to use their brains.” What if that wasn’t the case? What if you were the exception rather than the rule? What if you were the rarity who allowed yourself to learn how to extract more of your potential by being the one who learned how to think at a higher level? How valuable would that make you?

 

Please note I am not talking about learning facts here. We live in a world where the access to facts, to what we once loosely called knowledge, is almost worthless. Any teenager sat on a park bench can tell you who won the 1956 Epsom Derby because they have access to a smartphone and Google. Note that it is the phone that is smart, what the teenager brings to the deal is simply the willingness to use the phone.

 

I am also not including our ability to pass exams or gain degrees here either. Over recent years we have managed to find the formula to help more and more people learn how to pass exams and in the process we have probably helped them to be able to think for themselves less and less.

 

I am talking about personal growth and personal responsibility. Two factors that are as ubiquitous as they ever were but which are extracted less and less, making them more and more valuable.

 

Einstein said “The significant challenges we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking we were at when we created them”

We need help to allow ourselves to learn how to think at a higher level and to remove the interferences that prevent us from doing so.

Nancy Kline wrote that “The key obstacles in your life and work emerge from the key obstacles in your thinking.”

As she also said that “the brain that contains the problem also contains the solution.” I am confident that you already know what you should do to help yourself to think at a higher level. The one remaining question is when are you going to take that next step?