Over coffee this morning, I was reading the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. As I enjoyed my Traverse City Cherry dark roast, I came across the following quote in the book:
"If a child washed his hand, he could eat with kings."
What a marvelous proverb! It's a simple adage, but the implications are far-reaching... It goes beyond mere dinner etiquette, of course. Certainly, it's best to have clean hands in the presence of kings. But even kings should wash their hands before sitting down to the dinner table. Given the washing of hands as both a ritual and universal act, then, the quote promotes a sense of egalitarianism.
In a business context, I would put it this way: If I know my products and services, if I prepare for a meeting or presentation, and if I act ethically, I am just as deserving of business as anyone else in the industry. If I am but a commercial business development officer for Stewart Title, as long as I "wash my hands," I am entitled to sit with CEO's, company presidents and corporate officers and enjoy a working relationship. That African proverb, so elementary on its surface, is a very inspiring source of confidence.
I remind my kids to wash their hands before dinner all the time. The next time I do so, I will reflect on what those words may entail. In my house, however, it's not the king who rules- It's the queen! :)