The great botanist George Washington Carver told a story of one day walking along the road and meeting a beggar who was heading toward town. The man asked Carver for money so he could get something to eat. As they parted, Carver thought about the encounter, marveling that the beggar was ignorant that an abundance of nutritious food grew wild all along the road to town. The man asked for money when he would have been much better off had he known to ask for Carver’s wisdom.
I was in a similar situation a couple of nights ago when I was obligated to attend a local training session for an international leadership and communications group of which I’m a member. The program was to last three hours. I had been to enough such sessions in the past that I could have recited the format without seeing the agenda. I didn’t want to go but attended out of a sense of duty.
The meeting proceeded as usual. I was prepared to be bored, but then in the first break-out session I happily met up with Justin and Harvey, friends I hadn’t seen in years. Just about everyone present got into a lighthearted mood and the session was actually fun.
During a break I spoke with another friend, Jennifer, who gave me some priceless suggestions on a storytelling project I have been working on for months, groping for direction. I was truly inspired by her concise and insightful comments.
After the meeting I spoke with another friend, Linda, whom I had mentored several years before. It’s always a joy to see her because she is unrestrained in complimenting me on the help I’d given her in the past. And she is dedicated to promoting the positive in her own life and in the lives of others. Another inspiring connection.
Driving home, the light dawned on me that even though the training session itself was the routine I had expected, the networking that occurred during the breaks and after the meeting was invaluable. I had one regret. Why didn’t I promote my storytelling project to the fifty or so attendees at the meeting? In that regard I was like George Washington Carver’s beggar: I was blind to the opportunity.
Looking back on the evening, I’m now happy I participated in the training session. And you can bet the next time such an occasion arises I will chat with everyone I can, because you never know from where wisdom will come.