An influential teacher was at a party when he noticed that the guests were competing for places of honor at the high table. He decided to speak some words of wisdom to the guests listening to him, “When someone invites you to dinner, don’t take the place of honor. Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host. If you do that, the host might realize it and call you out in front of everybody, ‘You’re in the wrong place. That place of honor belongs to this man, not you.’ Red-faced, you’ll have to make your way to the back of the line and take the very last table, the only place left.
“When you’re invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say, ‘Friend, come up to the front.’ That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I’m saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
This lesson of humility applies to all of us and to many areas of our lives. Speaking up at a company meeting and suggesting a bright idea that will solve a critical problem and make the company money may be a place of honor. It is usually reserved for certain people. If you sit on that seat of honor without being invited, you will be demoted quickly when the powers that be find out that you had assumed that place for yourself without their permission. Your idea will be ignored even though it may be a great idea. That’s the way you are told to move to the least place.
Some common ways of taking honor that has not been given to you.
- Trying to advise someone without being invited.
- Trying to be a judge over people when they haven’t asked you to.
- Trying to lead people when you haven’t won their permission to lead. This is a common mistake when a person is new within an organization.