Monday, January 18, 2010

Stones and Tea

I am listening to the new book Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson, who also is the author of the wildly successful, Three Cups of Tea.

In the original book, Mortenson relates that he makes a commitment to build schools in the mountains of Pakistan because the members of a village saved his life as he was near death coming back from a mountain climb. He begins the project as a typical American, wanting to get things done and done quickly. A village elder instructs him to take a slower approach, explaining that Greg needs to have three cups of tea with folks as he does business. "With the first you are a stranger, the second you are a friend and the third you are family and we will do anything, including put our life on the line for family."

I am only at the beginning of the second book, but already the author has caught my ear! He explains that he builds schools in the outer reaches of civilization because no one else will go to the ends of the earth to do so. And for one village, it took him not three cups of tea, but 8 years of three cups of tea, winning the favor of the village leader before he was given the go-ahead.

That story made me think about how we "civilized folk" are so willing to quit after just a short time. I hear all the time from networkers that "this person or that person didn't help me (in the time I had devoted to this relationship) so I am moving on."

Now, I am the first to say that some relationships need to be left behind. But I think far too many of us fail to realize that we have to put TIME in for longer than we think necessary before we gain a return on that investment.

I think we can take so much from Greg Mortenson and what he has learned about building schools AND relationships.

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