“All that is gold does not glitter. Not all those who wander are lost. The old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
In performing research for a prior book, I came across something I never knew about gold. We use gold as a metric to value commodities, ideas, and activities (i.e. “the gold standard”), but gold also has a nasty secret. Gold is commonly found naturally in small quantities and scarcity is a factor in the metal’s intrinsic value. There are geological conditions that produce large quantities of gold. Those deposits are sometimes found near volcanic activity. There’s a problem with gold that’s chucked up from volcanos. Gold bonds with chlorine or cyanide to form toxic compounds. It’s ironic that one could literally be poisoned by sitting on a mountain of gold.
God’s creation and the lessons it can teach us never cease to amaze me. As deadly as large quantities of gold can be, a bacterium thrives on toxic gold. Cupriavidus metallidurans ingests the lethal chemicals found in these gold compounds, and plain untainted gold comes out the other side. Cupriavidus metallidurans probably didn’t start out loving poisonous hors d’oeuvres, but the bacterium adapted to its environment. If a microorganism can learn how to turn toxins into gold, surely humans in a business environment can do the same. The fact of the matter is, we are the sum total of all of the experiences we have ever had, be they good or be they bad. It’s how we process those experiences that determines whether we become bitter or better because of them.
Over the next thirty years, business environments are likely to change twice as much as they have in the last thirty years. Quantum innovations, virtual companies, harvesting mistakes, and reverse innovations will become the new normal in the coming years. If you’re not familiar with those terms, it’s time to brush up on your adaptation skills, or you might be poisoned by the very gold you’re trying to find.
Toxic Gold Accelerators
- Identify at least one extremely bad experience that you’ve had personally that still impacts you today– at home, at school, in the workplace, or etc.
- Why is it that this experience is still negatively impacting you today? These are the “toxins” that you need to properly process.
- Where is the “gold” in these experiences? Mine that gold and use it to put the negativity of these experience behind you for good.