How to Claim Positions: The Gold Mine Analogy

A Simplified Look at Claiming.

If we expect a reward without claiming it, life will leave us unhappy and frustrated. After moving to new positions, no positions can reward us until we claim them. The easiest analogy for the claiming process is staking a claim to a gold mine. In this article I will use the analogy of gold mining to explain why claiming is necessary and the need for each of its four steps. Without going through all four stages, we cannot establish successful positions in the minds of others that they are willing to reward.

Why does anyone go prospecting for gold? Not just because it is valuable. It has always been valuable and it has always been in the ground. Historically, people start thinking about finding their success through gold mining because of what they heard. This is the listening step in our practical strategy for success. In 1848, the news of Marshall’s discovering gold at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California led to the gold rush of 1849. Strategically, reacting to general news is a poor choice, but it is a popular one because most people do not know how to listen.

What happens next? People must decide when, where, and how they are going to seek gold. After California, over the next few decades, there were gold rushes in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. More recently, people have been drawn to the idea by television shows such as Gold Rush on the Discovery channel. Each drawing in new groups of people. People decided to join different gold rushes because of their aim at the time. Missing one opportunity and hearing about a new one encouraged more people to aim for riches by seeking gold. This series of gold rushes demonstrates how the news influences our aim, usually for the worse.

What does this decision to act lead to? Thousands go prospecting, putting their time and effort into the search for success in gold. This is the moving stage. Gold mining, as with all strategic ground, has its own rules for successful moves, the exploration of an opportunity for a winning position. Most don’t know these skills and fail.

What happens when some prospector, through luck or skill, discovers gold? If they are foolish, as most of us are before we learn better, they get drunk to celebrate, bragging about their discovery, finding out the next day that others have been listening, aiming, and moving onto their claim and perhaps claiming it for themselves.

The Process of Claiming

So we moved successfully based on an opportunity, finding what we think is our gold mine within it: now what do we have to do to get anything out of it? We must always perform four steps to stake our claim, no matter what the nature of our personal gold mine might be.

  1. We must gauge the value of our new position.

    First, we have to prove that we have truly found gold by having our ore assayed. Others must tell us what the value is according to their own standards of value. The only reason others reward us is that we produce value for them. This means others must confirm the amount of value in what we have discovered. For example, in advancing our position at work, we must be evaluated by others. This term simply means they must confirm what we think is valuable.

  2. We must package that value to clarify its boundaries.

    This means we must clearly define the position of our particular gold mine. Positions cannot be established without boundaries. Those boundaries define what our position is and what it isn’t, where it is and where it isn’t. Advancing positions is the process of moving those boundaries outward, but before we can do that, we must establish where they are. For example, in work situations, we must define the position we want to claim, where its boundaries of authority and responsibility should lie. This may not be the final position others recognize, but unless we make an initial claim, they cannot see what we want.

  3. We must engage others to recognize that value.

    For our gold mine, we have to file our claim at the land office. Unfortunately, most positioning in life doesn’t have clear rules for establishing a claim as gold mining does, but all claims must be recognized by someone in authority to do so: a boss at work, the other person in a relationship, the voters counters in an election. Those people may have different ideas about the boundaries of the claim, but if people in authority are engaged in setting those boundaries, their positions are established from that point forward.

  4. We must manage the claim to produce the value others have agreed to reward.

    We have to work the mine to establish our claim. In gold mining, if we don’t develop the mine, work getting out the gold, we lose it. In our other positions in life, the same thing holds true. We must work our positions to make them pay, delivering the value that others have agreed they want so that they can reward us in the way we agreed. In job situations, we must deliver what we have promised. Technically, “managing a claim” is the boundary between the skills of strategy and the skills of management. Here, management becomes more important, getting the most results from the least investment, standardizing our methods, continuously improving those methods, eliminating waste, shortening cycle time, and all the rest.

The Process of Claiming

It is no coincidence that these four actions themselves follow the cycle of listen-aim-move-claim. Gauging is a special form of listening. Packaging is a form of aiming. Engaging is a form of moving. Managing is, in the final analysis, the claiming of a claim.