Thursday, October 22, 2015

Don't let your tea go cold..

Don't let your tea go cold..
I love a good cup of tea. I drink an awful lot of it, especially during the week when I'm in the office. Reading a topical book about the First World War the other week I learnt that British soldiers on the front line had a ration of 6 pints of tea a day - something I aspire to!
"Tea can be a force for good!"
When Kate and I were on honeymoon in Sri Lanka one of the many highlights was visiting the Labookellie Estate - a beautiful tea plantation nestled in the hills in the centre of the island. The Estate is owned by Mackwoods and produces their wonderful tea leaves - to this day the cup of tea I drunk there is the best cuppa I've ever had.

Ever since visiting Labookellie one of our indulgences is to have a plentiful stock of Mackwoods tea in the larder, and at weekends we treat ourselves to a cup on Saturday and Sunday mornings (the rest of the time we are less indulgent and drink cheaper tea). There's only one distributor of Mackwoods tea in the UK, a quirky Sri Lankan owned tea parlour in London. They're always delighted to hear that we've visited Labookellie when we visit or call to order more boxes of tea!
"The process of making tea is important, but what is more important is enjoying the tea itself."
According to Forum for the Future's recent report on the future of the tea sector, between 1993 and 2010, tea consumption across the world increased by 60%. Tea has the potential to be a "hero crop", a crop that isn't just a commodity but which delivers value to the millions of people involved in the sector, especially when it's grown sustainably, empowering the growers, acting as a carbon sink and addressing challenges associated with a changing climate. Tea can be a force for good!

I'm a little teapot..
I heard a tea-related Chinese proverb this week: "Beware of worshipping the teapot instead of drinking the tea". Tea is there to be drunk, and if you're like me then you know the pang of disappointment you feel when you realise you've left your tea to go cold and forgotten to drink it - what a waste!

The process of making tea is important, but what is more important is enjoying the tea itself. I think this is what the proverb is getting at. Too often we can get wrapped up in the "doing" and forget about the "why".

I notice this at work - we'll find ourselves applying an approach we developed for a specific project on another project, getting wrapped up in the "doing" and forgetting about why we did it that way in the first place or how we could do it differently (and better) this time around.
"Too often we can get wrapped up in the "doing" and forget about the "why". 
Activity isn't the same as productivity, and sometimes I think we're fearful of taking time to think and plan ahead before diving in and designing... I don't deny that activity can be comforting, but if we end up worshipping the teapot and leaving our proverbial tea to go cold then we've missed the point.

Are there any processes that have unwittingly become idolised teapots in your life? Perhaps patterns of behaviour, belief, comfort? Where in your life have you forgotten the "why" in the busyness of all your "doing". Approaching the end of the year it's a good time to reflect on your deeper meanings, the "whys" that underpin your life.

In all of this there is a tension - instead of worshipping the teapot we can worship the tea instead! I do
like tea, but just to clear up any confusion it's not my be-all and end-all (although a life without tea would be poorer for it!).

Enjoy the journey, but not too much..
A theme I come back to again and again is the importance of enjoying the journey - not being solely destination focused - which is really important, but as with many things in life the knack is holding both the ultimate goal and the enjoyment of the journey in balance. Ben Saunders, a polar explorer, has some great insight on being journey-focused in his recent TED talk, where he comments that "Happiness isn't a finish line".

A journey needs to have a direction, otherwise you may find yourself adrift, lost at sea. As Michael Hyatt says "People lose their way when they lose their why". As much as it's important to surrender to the process, like the need to allow tea to brew, it's important to regularly look up and remind yourself of the why.. to enjoy the tea along the way.
"let's be people who savour life, savour the process and enjoy the end result."
Maybe this year's been full of busyness for you, full of activity and doing. In which case now's probably a good time for you to put the kettle on and brew yourself a nice cup of tea, and while you're enjoying it ask yourself again about your deeper "whys". Let's not be teapot-worshippers who let the tea go cold in our lives. Instead, let's be people who savour life, savour the process and enjoy the end result.

If you feel disconnected with your "why" then a good starting point is my book Life Space!


Thanks for taking the time to read Don't Let Your Tea Go Cold. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for expanded musings and much more (direct RSS feed is here). 

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Silly Mummy said...

Yes, I'm sure I'm guilty of getting caught up in the doing & forgetting about the why.
And 6 PINTS a day?? I can't help but think of Blackadder Goes Forth & wonder if it was actually tea, or 'tea', though! #anythinggoes

Luke Strickland said...

I know - it seems an awful lot! I also thought of Blackadder...!

Random Musings said...

I like a cup of tea now and again but I'm more of a coffee drinker. I love the comparison though, I think we all have areas where this applies.
Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes