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As Fire Refines Gold

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

Gold is one of the most expensive precious metals in the world. Its historical, emotional and financial value makes it highly sought-after. The purer the gold, the more valuable it is.

When found in its natural state, raw gold contains various impurities. Extracted gold is put in a furnace at extreme temperatures. Under these extreme conditions, the impurities begin to separate from the gold. Two layers are formed: the impurities form the surface layer with the pure molten gold beneath it. When the impurities are removed, we are left with pure, valuable gold.

Out of the harshest of environments comes great value.

Many times at work, we are put through a furnace of extreme conditions. Perpetual operational crises, unhappy customers, conflict between departments, ineffective internal processes, difficult bosses, uncooperative peers, challenging subordinates, low morale, high turnover and a host of other issues can leave us drained. People respond to these circumstances differently. Some may leave the furnace in a hurry in search of greener pastures. Others may opt to stay put, do nothing and accept it as the new norm. Then there are those who decide to brave the furnace and come out of it refined, better and more valuable.

The appropriate response would depend on actual circumstances, but I have often seen people with the potential to turn difficult situations around throw in the towel too easily, inadvertently missing out on the opportunity to grow themselves. As fire refines gold, difficult situations at the workplace refine us. Our shortcomings surface alongside opportunities for betterment, and seizing such opportunities elevates our value.

People who go through the furnace don’t just sit around and talk about how things should be better; they learn how to make it happen. They discover how to turn bad situations into good ones, bring people together, manage their bosses, peers and subordinates, improve internal processes, and solve problems. Those who choose this path often enough grow in capability, maturity and resilience. They are sought-after talents, worth their weight in gold and often valued highly, both in their organisations and in the marketplace.

So the next time you step into a furnace, consider what value awaits at the other end before choosing your response.

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