The executive was on a business trip to an exotic city. During a break between meetings, he decided to wander through the open air marketplace.
At one of the booths, an elderly gentleman was selling colored rocks. The peddler explained that the rocks were in all shapes and colors, and were good for jewelry or as knick-knacks. The rocks were spread all over the top of the booth, and the price was $10 for a small bagful.
The businessman thought about his young daughters and how much they would enjoy a necklace made from the colored stones, so he picked up a bag and began to fill it. At the end of the table there was a pile of dull stones sitting in a heap. The businessman picked one up to examine it more closely.
Then he swept every rock in the pile into his bag, handed the peddler $10, and walked as rapidly as he could back to his hotel room. The rocks, he had discovered, were uncut diamonds. They were worth a small fortune.
In his hotel room, he emptied the bag and looked at each of the diamonds. Then he tried to decide what to do with them while he completed his meetings. He thought about hiding them in his room, but was afraid that it was not secure enough. Then he considered putting them in the hotel safe, but since they had not been appraised or insured, there was no way to recover their value if they were "lost".
So he wound up sitting alone in his room staring at the pile of diamonds all night. He was afraid to go to the hotel restaurant, and afraid to sleep.
The next morning, he put the stones back into the bag and walked back to the market. The same peddler was sitting at the same booth selling the same rocks. The businessman put the bag in front of the fellow and said, "I cheated you yesterday. I gave you $10 for a bag of rocks, but these rocks are diamonds. They are worth tens of thousands of dollars. But I don’t want them anymore."
The peddler solemnly took a $10 bill and handed it back to the businessman. "You didn’t cheat me," he replied. "I knew that those rocks were diamonds."
The businessman stared at the peddler. "I will pay you the tens of thousands of dollars I should have paid you for the diamonds if you will tell me how you learned to feel that way. I spent the whole night alone and awake in my hotel room because I was afraid someone would steal them. I didn’t own them, they owned me. How can you not care about losing them?"
The peddler smiled. "It’s not hard if you remember that diamonds are just rocks. And who really cares about a rock?"
Many of us are suffering from the effects of a recession that seems as if it will never end. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed and fearful. And while it is never pleasant to deal with financial adversity, it helps to take a page from our peddler friend’s book