Treasure? How a lost gold mine helped me change everything.

(This is a guest post by John Henderson. John is a speaker, blogger and author. Learn more about him at the bottom of this post.)

It has killed thousands of people. But, looking for the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona has been a search that has taught me more about finding the richness within myself than digging it out of the ground.

It has been one of my unfair advantages.

It takes a lot to plan an adventure like this. Your fitness, knowledge and equipment all must be in order before you can begin.  Much like business, family and life, treasure hunting can be very rewarding or very precarious depending on your preparation. If the right tools aren’t available both can be disastrous.


the search image

CC flickr via DMD Photo

Why would anyone take the risk?  What sense does it make to put yourself in the small percentage of people who have attempted an uncertain undertaking?  It is much easier to sit back and watch someone else do the hard work.  Life won’t end if you aren’t taking chances, putting yourself out there and going the distance.

Or will it?

Living, to those of us who look a little deeper, is more than just not dying. Living is testing ourselves. Living is knowing that failing is less painful than not trying.

Putting ourselves out in front for the world to see (and judge) forces us to be the best version of ourselves.

It is this growth that we (as leaders) crave.  Developing ourselves enough to do the hard work that yields the rare fruit is exactly why we do the work.  Watching others follow in our footsteps as we blaze the trail ahead gives us a sense of purpose and pride.

Searching for the treasure that others have lost or overlooked is the day-to-day practice of a leader.

It is why my search for a lost gold mine parallels my life, in so many ways.

Searching for cursed gold has taught me so much about life.  I have learned about tenacity, resilience and preparation.  All qualities that are essential as a leader; but one secret to finding gold that is so important to understand is this:

Gold is heavy, and often is covered up with lighter, less valuable debris.

As leaders we all set out with a clear vision of our goal.  We know exactly what the air will smell like and how the world will feel, once we achieve it.  Then we encounter the cover up.  We lose our gold in a heap of debris that we never anticipated.  Politics, opinions and image can cover up the thing we set out to accomplish.  Like a gold panner, we have to wash this overburden away from our gold and keep our vision clear.

I’ve searched for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine for over a decade.

What I have found in material wealth may have amounted to enough for a small bag of chips.  What I have learned about myself and life has made me a better man and a better leader.  In the back of my mind, part of me hopes to never find what I’m looking for because the search is what has made me rich.

Don’t forget the most valuable thing, the unfair advantage, of searching for treasure, leading a family or starting something big . . . the search is almost always better than the finding!

Enjoy the search.


John Henderson is a speaker, blogger, and author. He has the unique distinctions of becoming a college professor as a high school dropout, transitioning from living in the back seat of a car to living in beautiful homes on three of the Hawaiian Islands and riding to and from work every day for six months while hanging from a rope attached to the bottom of a helicopter. His unique perspective on life gives voice to the person in all of us who isn’t sure, but tries anyway. He is the author of The Search and runs


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