Quotidian Reflections: Discovering Truth in Everyday Moments — Ca Phe Phin Edition

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

Quotidian is a fancy word for everyday, mundane, or ordinary. Nothing to see here... And yet, it is in these kinds of moments that we may be able to discover new perspectives or life-changing insights. Whether it is the ancient haiku poetry of Basho or the Buddhist practice of mindfulness, quotidian moments offer us an entry point into a new echelon of understanding.

From that perspective, the present moment is like a door that offers hidden, unaccessed worlds of knowledge. If knowledge is infinite, then the invitation is for us to take everyday or routine moments (situations, happenings — whatever) and allow them to be our teachers.

For example, this morning as I made my Vietnamese-style coffee, I found the process for using the ca phe phin to be enlightening. As I boiled water and began the process of making coffee, I remembered that, in order to properly extract the potent goodness of the ground coffee beans, one should first soak the coffee in warm water for about 30 seconds before pouring it into the filter directly over the cup.

Traditionally, the reason you should soak the coffee is so that it can absorb moisture, become softer, and therefore more malleable to extract flavor when you pour water into the filter. The process is described here.

We use water to soften rice or beans and use it even to soak up dirty dishes. When it comes to filtering Vietnamese-style coffee, soaking it up first allows for better flavor extraction because the grounds become moist and soft.

What does this have to do with coaching?

As I prepared my coffee, I thought about how timing and preparation also apply to the coaching dynamic. For, in order for a conversation to be fruitful, there is a kind of softness that is needed. Softness in the sense of openness or, even, openness to being vulnerable. And, just as soft coffee grounds allow for greater potency of flavor, so too does softness in coaching allow for a richer coaching interaction.

In a way, coaching can only begin until both coach and client have opened themselves to the interaction, which I propose, happens with a certain level of vulnerability, especially coming from the client.

Our most vulnerable moments are often our best teachers because in some ways they indicate that our perception of reality has completely fallen apart. And, in the process of coaching, the more open both client and coach become, the less assumptions they make, the less they hold to be strictly true, thus opening themselves up to new interpretations of the issues at hand.

In short: The vulnerability that comes from softening one’s heart is one of the keys to developing awareness.

It was this series of thoughts that came to me while I paused before making coffee. Let us not forget to stop and observe. Observing everyday activities of the physical world will show us how much we really know and perhaps push us just a bit more.


Quotidian Reflections is Leaders Create Leaders’ attempt at capturing truth in everyday

moments. We invite you to see the truth behind the truth by observing how everyday situations can teach us something new, sometimes altering our perspective and infusing it with fresh, palatable knowledge.

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