Coffee and cups…

A group of alumni, all highly established in their respective careers, got together for a visit with their old university professor. The conversation soon turned to complaints about the endless stress of work and life in general…Offering his guests coffee, the professor went into the kitchen and soon returned with a large pot of coffee and an eclectic assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal – some plain, some expensive, some quite exquisite. Quietly he told them to help themselves to some fresh coffee…

When each of his former students had a cup of coffee in hand, the old professor quietly cleared his throat and began to patiently address the small gathering…

”You may have noticed that all of the nicer looking cups were taken up first, leaving behind the plainer and cheaper ones. While it is only natural for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is actually the source of much of your stress-related problems.” He continued…

“Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In fact, the cup merely disguises or dresses up what we drink. What each of you really wanted was coffee, not a cup, but you instinctively went for the best cups…

Then you began eyeing each other’s cups….

Now consider this: Life is coffee. Jobs, money, and position in society are merely cups. They are just tools to shape and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not truly define nor change the quality of the Life we live. Often, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee …”

This came by me without attribution, but to whoever wrote it, thank you. For those that know it you will recognise that I have deleted the last sentences, but I don’t think this changes the sense of it.

It is a cautionary tale… with a gentle reminder appropriate to my life.

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About Jenni

I am interested in working with others to enhance the sustainability of human systems. My practice is to engage with people by drawing on their own ways of knowing and understanding. I orient people toward the “pull” of future intentions, rather than the blind "push" of past habits and "best practice". I encourage people to break out of their cognitive silos, to think laterally and to focus on the whole problem systemically in all its inter-disciplinary complexity. My practice works through the essential processes of innovation – mobilising resources, enrolling peers, engaging allies and building public support. This form of engineering practice is about manoeuvring, dissolving boundaries, always being in action, and recognising that function, congruence and transformation are emergent properties generated through active learning by doing.
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One Response to Coffee and cups…

  1. I would probably choose the largest mug that was available. This either means that I am greedy, or I just want to get the most out of life that I can!

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