Once there were two miners. They came to California during the gold rush back during the eighteen hundreds. They were both from the same small town in Kansas, although they had never met before they met up in California. At the time, the small town in Kansas was experiencing a lot of economic difficulties. The railroad, which was supposed to be building a main stop in town, which would be great for business, decided against it. There was a small mountain range just outside of town, and when the surveyors for the railroad company had come to take a look, they discovered a large iron deposit in the Earth.
This, of course, caused the townspeople, at first, to become even happier, as they imagined that the discovery of this resource would bring a lot of additional money and business to the town. But the problem was that the deposit of minerals were on different parcels of land, and they were difficult to get to. The legal ramifications were relatively complex, so in order to build the railroad, the railroad company simply opted for another town with fewer problems, and left the townspeople and the various iron miners to sort out there differences.
Just when all this was going on, people started hearing stories of the gold that you could find in California. There were all kinds of stories of people striking it rich every day, and all you had to do was to show up and find gold and all your problems would be solved. There were other stories of people finding diamonds, and oil running in streams in some mountains, and all the businesses that needed to support the gold finding industry.
So these two guys, without knowing each other, each decided to sell everything they had that was worth anything, and head out to California. They hitched rides on trains, wagons, walked for several miles, and after several months of traveling, they finally made it to the hills of San Francisco.
They both began in earnest looking for treasure, but they each had a different strategy. The first guy had been studying all about gold, and talking to people along the way. He had a clear idea of exactly what he wanted to find. Because he knew exactly what he wanted to find, he could easily choose the right equipment. And he listened very carefully to stories of people that had found exactly what they were looking for. He made sure to study their methods, study where exactly in the hills they went, what kind of landscape surrounded their findings, the exact kind of river and every detail he could get his hands on. He kept a notebook of all this detailed information.
Naturally, when he got to the hills of San Francisco, he began in earnest. He panned for gold in the exact same method of those who had already became rich. He stayed in one spot only long enough to determine, based on the amount of gold dust that he found, whether it was likely he would find a large amount. He kept this up, until after a short while, he had found enough gold to easily retire wealthy and happy. From his perspective, he thought it had been fairly easy. He looked around at all the people running around not sure what they were doing and wondered why they hadn’t become rich already. Then he bumped into the fellow from his small town.
After they recognized each other, they exchanged greetings. When he asked him how he had been doing, the other guy was upset.
“This whole place is a scam. I’ve looked for everything, diamonds, silver, rubies, and all those stories I heard are all made up. I think they are made up by the people that want to sell you the material to find this nonsense with.”
“What did you say you were looking for?” The first guy asked.
“Well, first I was looking for diamonds, because I heard about some guy who came here three years ago and found one big one. Then I heard another story about a family that had discovered rubies in the root of a sycamore tree, so I started digging up sycamore trees. Then I heard that the real money is in finding oil, but I haven’t found any of that yet.”
“Hmm,” said the first guy, stroking his chin. He wondered if he should tell him that in order to find what you are looking for, you first have to know what you are looking for. Then after you know what you are looking for, the best way to find it was to do what other people had done that had already found it. And the next thing to do is to simply decide to keep looking, until you found it. Because other people had found it, you could be sure that if you did the same thing they did, of course changing it to suit your own personality, you would find the same thing.
But he decided against it, as he suspected the old timer would figure this out on his own.