The Essence of Business

I saw a man yesterday morning making concrete blocks. He was mixing sand, cement and water, and pouring the mixture into a mould. Then he would turn the mould upside down, lift it up, and out came the block. It would be left to dry out in the sun with all the others that were made that morning.

Houses in Nigeria are normally constructed with concrete blocks and here is someone making them for us. His strength or skill supplies our need (our weakness). I don’t know how to make blocks. It is obvious that you combine those three items. But in what proportion? Too little water would prevent the grains from sticking together and would result in a weak piece of concrete. Excess water does no good, too. It takes skill to blend them in  just the right amount. What about removing the mould? Do it carelessly and the whole thing falls flat to the ground.

The beauty in this is that I don’t need to learn how to make blocks. Agreed, it’s a weakness for me. On my friend’s resume, however, it is a glaring strength. Every skill is a strength, whether acquired or innate. And he freely trades it in return for the product of another’s strength, be it food or clothing. By cultivating a skill he is able to meet the needs of others and also his own.

This is the essence of business.

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