What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

The making of tea is an interesting process. Although most people assume that various teas come from different plants, they are all derived from the same evergreen. The only difference among the teas is the manner in which the plant is processed by workers. When the leaves are picked, they are spread out very thin, to dry naturally, or with machine generated heated air, to reduce the amount of water in the leaves. This process is called, ‘withering.’

The next stage in the tea making process is called ‘rolling.’ The tea is removed from the withering racks, and twisted and rolled. Some leaves are even shaken. This ‘rolling’ breaks up the leaf cells and oils are released which give the tea a unique aroma.

Oxidation, which is the third stage in the tea process, is begun once the leaf membranes are broken and oxygen is absorbed. This chemical process causes the leaves to turn the color of a bright new penny. The ‘oxidation’ stage determines whether tea is black, oolong, or green.

For example, black tea undergoes the longest oxidation. Oolong tea has an oxidation period, half that of black tea. Green tea may escape the first two stages of the process. Leaves are generally pan fried to prevent oxidation from occurring, which allows the leaves to retain their green color.

Finally, the tea is ready for the ‘drying’ or ‘firing’ stage. Leaves are carefully dried over wood fires, halting the oxidation process.

Our clients are like tea…black, oolong, or green. In many ways, all of our clients are the same. They are all steeped in the joys and disappointments of their lives. They’ve experienced change. At some point, they’ve consciously or subconsciously decided to continue to grow, and embrace life, or they have chosen to wither and die. And perhaps, their struggles have brought them to you for encouragement and focus.

Despite being tea, each of our clients is unique and different. They are unique because, their life experiences are all different. Our clients’ life experiences, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, have shaped who they are, and who they may become.

So, as a coach, are you aware that how you interact with your client in this process effects the type of tea your client becomes? Are you making sure they take time to breathe? Are you making sure they aren’t getting burned?

[Coaching Questions]

  • What stage in the ‘tea’ process do you find yourself today?
  • Which one of your most pleasant life experiences has shaped you the most?
  • Which one of your most unpleasant life experiences has shaped you the most?
  • How has Nietzsche’s statement, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” been realized in your life?
  • Are you willing to continue in this ‘tea making’ process; even if it means enduring withering, rolling, oxidation, and firing? How does this process, affect the person, you are becoming?
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