"For half an hour, Greg fidgeted while Sakina brewed tea and Haji Ali looked through his Koran, the most precious thing he owned. When the cups of tea steamed in their hands, Haji Ali spoke. "If you want to thrive in Baltistan, you must respect our ways. The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die," he went on, laying a hand on Greg's own. "Doctor Greg, you must make time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated. But we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time."
That day Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson I've ever learned in my life. We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. We're the country of thirty-minute power lunches and two-minute football drills. Our leaders thought their 'shock and awe' campaign could end the war in Iraq before it even started. Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them. " - Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson