The story relates to the ideas of hospitality in Turkey and it ties in with stories my wife has told me about the warmth and friendship she experienced during sailing holidays there some thirty years ago.
Invitations to share simple but lovingly prepared family meals; help with broken down yachts and drives to town, etc.
And it got me thinking about business networking – this might seem a tortuous jump, but stick with me.
We all know that networking is not about selling, don’t we? We know it’s about sowing, not farming and that nobody goes to a networking event to be sold to.
And yet, meeting other business people for the first time, how many of us are brave enough to not only steer clear of pitching, but to actually lend an ear to hear what the other person is saying; asking questions to gain more understanding and thinking about ways in which we might help.
In Turkey, a local sees a wandering itinerant and knows he is probably tired and hungry. Communication may be difficult, but food and shelter are basic needs and easily understood. It is quite something to invite a stranger into your home; to make yourself so vulnerable and offer help.
This is especially true when you consider Muslims believe that this duty of hospitality is to God as well as strangers; meaning that their only reward is with an abstract deity they won’t even see until after they have passed through this life and into the next.
When we offer help to a stranger or acquaintance, we make ourselves vulnerable and it is not easy. It also feels counter intuitive to be thinking about building our business by taking time to help others with theirs.
However, just as with Turkish hospitality, the actions are not entirely altruistic. It helps build our reputation, it gives us a warm glow, it is a fast way to make friends and, of course, you never know when that favour may be returned: you never know when you might be entertaining an angel.