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…. who spent his days just outside his village sitting under a shady tree where he would think.

One day, a traveler came up to him and said:

“Old man, I have traveled far. I have seen many things and met many people. Can you tell me, if I go into this village, what kind of people will I meet there?”

The wise man replied:

“Yes, I will be happy to tell you. But first, tell me what kind of people you have met in your travels so far.”

The traveler responded:

“Oh, you would not believe it. I have met the most awful people! People who are selfish and unkind to strangers. People who don’t care for themselves or one another. I have met foolish young people I could learn nothing from, and old people whose lack of hope depresses everyone they meet.”

As the traveler spoke, a look of sadness grew in the wise man’s eyes as he nodded in a knowing way. “Yes,” he said. “I believe I know exactly the kind of people you speak of. And I’m sorry to tell you, but if you go into my village, I’m afraid that is exactly the kind of people you will meet.”

“I knew it!” the traveler scoffed. “It is always the same.”

He kicked the dirt under his feet and stormed off down the road, without ever bothering to stop in the village.

A few hours later, another traveler came upon the wise man.

“Kind sir,” he said:

“I have traveled far. I have seen many things and met many people. Can you tell me, if I go into this village, what kind of people will I meet there?”

The wise man replied:

“Yes, I will be happy to tell you. But first, tell me what kind of people you’ve met in your travels so far.”

The traveler responded:

“Oh, you would not believe it. I have met the most amazing people! People who are kind and generous to strangers, people who care for one another like family. I have met young people with a wisdom beyond their years, and I have met older people with a youthful passion for life that brings joy to everyone they meet. And I have learned much from all of them.”

This time, as the traveler spoke, the wise man smiled brightly as he nodded in a knowing way. “Yes,” he said:

“I believe I know exactly the kind of people you speak of. And I’m happy to tell you, if you go into my village, I’m certain that’s exactly the kind of people you’ll meet.”

“Come then,” said the traveler, “and introduce me to them.”

The lesson

What we see in people is determined, in large part, by what we expect to find.

Where you go, and the people you meet, be it your team, your peers, your customers, even your senior, look for in them the traits you would most like to see, and I believe that’s exactly what you will find there.

When you are a leader, see in your team, the best qualities you would like to see in them.

Don’t see the worst in a person and expect them to see the best in you.

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