I just received this article from Center for Social Leadership and thought it was a very powerful lesson in humanity, as well as prosperity.
Following is from his autobiography, "Up From Slavery".
A Lesson from Booker T. Washington in Proactivity
Booker T. Washington was an extraordinary hero from whom we can learn many valuable lessons.
Born a slave in Virginia, he was freed after the Civil War, then set out to become educated. He arrived at the Hampton Institute determined to gain admittance.
In his autobiography, Up From Slavery, he wrote the following:
â€œI presented myself before the head teacherâ€¦After some hours had passed, the [she] said to me: â€œ
â€˜The adjoining recitation-room needs sweeping. Take the broom and sweep it.â€™ It occurred to me at once that here was my chanceâ€¦I swept the recitation-room three times. Then I got a dusting-cloth and I dusted it four times.
â€œAll the woodwork around the walls, every bench, table, and desk, I went over four times with my dusting-cloth. Besides, every piece of furniture had been moved and every closet and corner in the room had been thoroughly cleaned.
â€œI had the feeling that in a large measure my future depended upon the impression I made upon the teacher in the cleaning of that room. When I was through, I reported to the head teacherâ€¦She went into the room and inspectedâ€¦
â€œWhen she was unable to find one bit of dirt on the floor, or a particle of dust on any of the furniture, she quietly remarked, â€˜I guess you will do to enter this institution.â€™
â€œI was one of the happiest souls on earth. The sweeping of that room was my college examination, and never did any youth pass an examination for entrance into Harvard or Yale that gave him more genuine satisfaction.
â€œI have passed several examinations since then, but I have always felt that this was the best one I ever passed.â€