Leadership Lessons to be learned from a Tea Bag


My last toastmasters meeting were based on the theme – “Motivation”. We had 3 breathtaking speeches on the same theme. Here, I am summarizing one of the speeches delivered by one of the members – Mr. Chinnappa Nanaiah. He explained how toastmaster is similar to a tea bag. The speech had very strong leadership lessons to be learned from a tea bag.
Leadership Lessons to be learned from a Tea Bag
  1. What Counts is what’s is inside the Teabag

You will notice that some tea bags have very nice-looking labels, while others have very ordinary looking ones. Some have delicate silk tassels while others have ordinary strings. But here’s the thing to remember: The quality of the beverage is determined by the tea inside the bag – not by the label or the string.
The same is true for all of us too. The titles, the clothes we wear and the cars we drive are like the label and the string. They may make us look nice, beautiful and attractive. But what really matters is the kind of person we are, deep down within. What matters most are our beliefs and attitude – that’s what defines the person we are. The tea masters know that to make a great drink, they need to focus on the tea. Not on the label and the string. Focus on being a good human being. Fix your attitude. Get your values right. And don’t fret about the small stuff.
  1. The real flavor comes through when the teabag gets into hot water

To get the best flavor, we need to put the tea bag into hot water. And then the real strength will show! Likewise, the true character of a person actually shines through in problems. How does a person behave under pressure, when he is in ‘hot water’? The hot water test is a good one – to judge the quality of the tea and the true character of human beings.
  1. Good teabag look forward to getting into hot water

Leaders know it will give them a chance to show their true worth. So next time you see a challenge, a tough situation, think like a tea bag and dive headlong into it. It may be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to show what you are capable of. Some of us are so scared of the hot water that we stay away from it. We are too scared of failure. Leaders never let that happen to themselves! Give yourself a chance to show the world what you are really all about!
  1. A teabag must be porous

Imagine we have the best tea in world. We put that tea bag in a plastic shield and dip that into hot water and wait. What would we get? Tea? No. We would just get the same water which is not even hot now.
Very likely, we cannot survive in isolation. We need to face the situations, the challenges to get out of them. Some very wise person said “When you are in hell, go through it. Because that is the only possible way to get out of it.” This may also be interpreted as we need to dissolve in water, the surroundings/teams to give our best to that.
  1. Teabags work, never mind where they are in the cup

Notice wherever the tea bag is placed inside the cup – high, low, vertical, horizontal, it does not matter at all. The tea bag would influence hot water. Likewise, for true leaders. It does not matter which position they hold within the team. They would always stand out and benefit the whole team.
  1. Sometimes, one teabag is just not enough

We add more than 1 tea bag to hot water depending on our tastes. One tea bag is not enough for some of us. Likewise, some teams/problems may require more than one leader. The leader should never hesitate in asking for help – another tea bag!        
  1. Sometimes, you need to add some milk and sugar

Sometimes tea itself is not enough to serve as a perfect beverage. We add milk and sugar to enhance its taste. Similarly, the leader also need support of his team members and he himself need to add more qualities and knowledge to himself so that everyone is able to extract their own requirements and are satisfied.
  1. Someone else holds the string, always.

Remember, tea bag cannot stand by itself. There is always someone else who holds its string and dips it into hot water. Just like that, a leader is also never independent. The leader himself also has someone mentoring him, or leading him.
  1. It is always about how good the teabag is. Not the teabag!

Do we ever wonder talk about the tea bag? We always enjoy the tea inside that. The tea can be taken out and brewed other ways as well, but the teabag does not mean anything without its contents. Same holds true for leaders. It is the work, the qualities that speak and shine out. A leader is nothing without its achievements. Thus, if you want to be a leader, stop focusing on yourself and let your work speak for you.
  1. Eventually, teabags need to make way and get out!

Once the tea is brewed, we throw away the tea bag. Even if we keep it inside the cup, it’s the flavor it has imparted into hot water that we drink not the tea bag. This teaches us that eventually, leaders need to get to a side and let their team sparkle. Like tea, they can always be with them, but in the end, it’s the work and their team that matters. Remember, leader does not exist without a team.
  1. A refreshing cup of tea needs time to brew!

Notice that the tea is not ready at the very instance we dip the tea bag into hot water. It takes time to brew perfectly. Tea and leadership qualities are very similar. We cannot acquire all leadership traits at once. They are imparted into us time to time.

Sources – 
1. Toastmasters speech 
2. http://www.careers360.com/news/7792-prakash-iyer-life-lessons-in-a-tea-bag

Read more posts about Toastmasters here

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Hi Amita,
    Nice read!! I was looking for this material for a long time to prepare a presentation. Very helpful!!

  2. Unknown

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Unknown

    Hi Amita Gulia,
    Simple but very impressive. A typical example for the idiom 'think out of the box'
    Many regards

  4. Amita

    Thanks dear…. it was all effort of my fellow toastmaster

  5. Amita

    Thanks Thomas…. it was all effort of my fellow toastmaster

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