Holding Onto Your Identity | The Chinese Teahouse

I sit in a Chinese teahouse.  Something unspoiled by the Western world or materialism, unspoiled by the advancing technology, unspoiled by ‘change’.

It remains small and quiet.  The tables remain old and gently swing under the weight of the dishes.  There is no fuss, no attempts to “boost business” or to “expand”.  There are no plans to widen the buffet’s range or include some more mainstream meals.

This is because the Chinese Teahouse understands that its identity is what keeps people coming through the doors.  It remains:

  • Somewhere where people come to escape the bustle and slip into the past for a bit.
  • Somewhere where friends can come to enjoy an intimate meal in order to rejuvenate the batteries and the friendship itself.
  • A traditional Chinese experience, amidst the reach of global integration.

It doesn’t ignore change altogether though – for that would be the kiss of death.  There is no doubt that change is constant, and adapting to it is what separates long-term success from failure.  So the Teahouse adapts in ways that will improve the customer experience, without sacrificing the values that sets it apart.  It has electronic cashiers, credit card machines and a website.

But it holds onto its identity, and refuses to budge in that regard.

The Chinese Teahouse has to make changes in order to stay competitive and so that those working there to make a living.

But these changes are never made at the expense of the Teahouse’s Identity.

That is a non-negotiable.


With the world changing around us every day, it is easy to lose track and end up going with the flow – simply because it’s easier.

“Don’t study music, it’s impossible to make it in that industry!”

“Get a Twitter account!”

“It’s only one more beer, you’ll still be able to drive home!”

“You have to upgrade it, it’s not the newest version!”

“What do you mean you don’t want to go clubbing?  You can’t be much fun then.”


Sound familiar?

As we continue to adapt to the ever-increasing pace of our world, are you holding onto the values that you cherish most?  Do you even know what those are?  Or are you simply doing what everyone else does because…

“Well, everyone else is doing it!”


Try this quick experiment. 

Write down, on a piece of paper, 5 character traits that you believe make you who you are.

Now as you read through each point, think back to the last month or two – have you neglected any of these in the name of “fitting in”, “looking the part” or even just to impress someone else?


It happens so easily, day after day, without us even realising it.

We all say that we want to be ourselves, we want to celebrate our uniqueness but as soon as the pressure is on – we all flock together.  Change is intoxicating and so is the mob mentality.  It is easier to do what everyone else is doing, to shout comments anonymously from the safety of the crowd…

But if it is easy then it isn’t worth doing!

I know that you don’t merely want to be average or mediocre – you want to excel in whatever facet you are passionate about.  So instead of following the crowd – swim upstream for a bit.

That is where the opportunity for real change is – on the unbeaten path.

If you have the self-respect and willpower to resist temptation when it comes to your true values and ambitions – the result is so refreshing.  We can hold onto the identity that is the number one priority in our life and then any change after that builds on the solid foundation.  Things will tend to take care of themselves.

After all,

We wouldn’t want the Chinese Teahouse to start bringing out fried chicken, now would we?