We’ve all heard this before, “It takes pressure to create a diamond.” Pressure is something many of us have learned a lot about recently as we criss-crossed through 2020. So, with that experience and some new lessons on resilience in our back pocket, we are uniquely prepared for whatever comes next. Here are three lessons we can all learn from the diamond and how it’s created…

Appreciate the heat.

Diamonds begin with carbon that’s buried about 100 miles deep inside the earth’s mantle. One of the first steps in creating a diamond from that carbon requires adding heat – about 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact.

This isn’t the only place in nature where heat is a catalyst for growth and creation. When a wildfire occurs, pine cone spines create a shell that is fire-resistant and protects the inner seeds. The heat from the fire dries out that shell, and after the fire, the spines open up to disperse the seeds. Many species, like the Jack Pine, will only release their seeds AFTER a fire – they need the heat.

So ask yourself, when the heat is on, how do you show up? High-stress situations are rarely fun or enjoyable, but if we approach them with the right perspective and see them for what they are, they often open the door to breakthroughs. Think about that word for a moment… breakthrough. Something has to break in order to get through. The heat has to break open the shell to release the seed, and the carbon needs the heat to transform into the diamond. 

Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Remember we shared above that that carbon is buried about 100 miles inside the earth? All of that rock, positioned on top of the carbon, squeezes it under intense pressure – about 725,000 pounds per square inch. The combination of that pressure and the intense heat create a unique chemical bond, and that bond is the thing that makes diamonds so hard. No pressure, no diamond.

Some of us thrive under the pressure… we love how it makes us feel. For others, it is intensely uncomfortable. The key thing, when the pressure comes, is to resist the temptation to flee from it. There’s always an easy way out – a way to release the pressure in our lives. Whether it’s pressure in a relationship or in our business, there’s always a way to get out from under the pressure without enduring it. 

When we do that, though, we miss the transformation that’s being created. Yes, we remove the discomfort, but we also remove the opportunity and the possibilities that come with enduring the pressure. What’s waiting for us on the other side is never discovered when we dip out too quickly, give up, or quit.

Third, understand it takes time.

Most raw diamonds that have been discovered are one to three billion years old. The process that creates natural diamonds is gradual and slow, not quick. Sure, there are ways to create synthetic diamonds overnight using natural gas and microwave beams, but the result isn’t an authentic diamond.  

Anything worth doing takes time. Yes, we can settle for microwave produced, synthetic knock-offs of whatever it is we want in life, but the reality is that genuine successes take time to create. It took me time to create the successful agency I now lead with my partners. Blending a family with two kids and their stepmom has taken time as well. Building a strong marriage that endures when challenges come takes time. Growing my blog and building the Depth Not Width community has taken time. 

Many times, we want and expect things to happen fast – and then when they’re slower than we desire, we get disappointed or give up. Entrepreneurs start businesses with “get rich quick” aspirations and then find that there’s more to it than that. We enter our marriages hoping for bliss and delight, and when things get challenging, we immediately consider leaving. We raise our kids with visions of family game nights and backyard bonfires, and when we experience teenage blow-ups, we want to throw in the towel on parenting.

Cristina taught me a great lesson a few years back when she shared the concept of “time on” with me. To build a relationship with someone else, for example between a stepmom and their new family, it takes time on. To build a business or a blog it takes time on. The more quickly we accept that valuable things take time to create, the sooner we’ll set down our impatience and restlessness. And then, we’ll learn to enjoy the journey and not just the destination.

Here’s a bonus lesson… Once you have a diamond, protect it.

Even though diamonds are one of the hardest materials on the planet, they are incredibly brittle and weak. Put another way, diamonds are hard but not strong. At about 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, a diamond will burn up and return to carbon. Diamonds rarely crack, but they can chip easily along their weak points, called cleavage planes. Hit a diamond with a hammer, and it will shatter.

Once you have a diamond in your life, whether it be a relationship or some project you’re passionate about, you need to protect it. Knowing that it is precious and valuable should drive each of us to care for those diamonds just a little bit more, and not take them for granted. Ask yourself this: What diamonds do I have in my life that I’ve been taking for granted or not protecting the way I should?

The Takeaway

Make creating diamonds part of your new year… Take the pressure in your life, and those seasons where the heat gets turned up, and turn them into your diamonds. Be patient along the way, find ways to enjoy the journey, and give time permission to do its work. Then, once you’ve created those diamonds, protect them. 

This can be a challenging process. It is for me. With that in mind, subscribe here where I’ll be sharing my personal journeys and encouragement throughout the coming year. Join a tribe of people who are committed to creating lives with diamonds and depth in 2021! – John

P.S. I’m hearing great reports from people who are using my 2021 goal setting worksheets. If you haven’t downloaded yours yet, you can get them here!