A good friend recently recommended a book called Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time. He assured me the book was well worth reading. From the cover and title of the book, I wasn’t so sure, but on his recommendation, I read it. Devoured it is more like it. It’s the kind of book that can show you life’s possibilities, if you are open to them. To give you an idea of just how incredible this book is, it has been reviewed 1,775 times on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. More importantly, this book may just change the way you view the rest of your life.
Three Cups of Tea Storyline
Three Cups of Tea is a book about one man, Greg Mortenson, and his failed attempt to scale K2. On his way down, he almost died, got lost, stumbled into the wrong village, and there began a life’s journey to change the world. And that’s just the first few chapters.
In his first visit to that small village called Korphe in northeastern Pakistan, Mortenson made a promise to the village leader Haji Ali, “I will build a school.” So what led this American mountain climber who had no money make such an outrageous promise? Here’s how the book describes the school Korphe had when Mortenson made his promise:
[Greg Mortenson] was appalled to see eighty-two children, seventy-eight boys, and the four girls who had the pluck to join them, kneeling on the frosty ground, in the open. Haji Ali, avoiding Mortenson’s eyes, said that the village had no school, and the Pakistani government didn’t provide a teacher. A teacher cost the equivalent of one dollar a day, he explained, which was more than the village could afford. So they shared a teacher with the neighboring village of Munjung, and he taught in Korphe three days a week. The rest of the time the children were left alone to practice the lessons he left behind.
Mortenson watched, his heart in his throat, as the students stood at rigid attention and began their “school day” with Pakistan’s national anthem. [A]fter the last note of the anthem had faded, the children sat in a neat circle and began copying their multiplication tables. Most scratched in the dirt with sticks they’d brought for that purpose. The more fortunate, like Jahan, had slate boards they wrote on with sticks dipped in a mixture of mud and water.
Mortenson’s promise to build Korphe a school, made in 1993, has now led to the building of 78 schools.
Finding Meaning in ‘Three Cups of Tea’
Three Cups of Tea is remarkable story that can teach us so much about life’s possibilities, if we let it.
- Dream Big: Whatever your goals in life, make them big. Yes, being realistic is important. But so is a big vision. So often we limit ourselves by doubt, fear and just plain old lack of imagination. Three Cups of Tea teaches us just how much one man’s big dreams can accomplish.
- Make a Difference: We might not all build schools for children in Pakistan. But in whatever way we can, make a positive difference in the lives of others.
- Expect Failure: Failure is a natural part of success. Indeed, Mortenson’s life work came from his failed attempt to climb K2. If Three Cups of Tea is about anything, it’s about one “failure” after another, each of which led to one success after another because Mortenson never, never gave up.
- Expect the Unexpected: There are a lot of surprises in Three Cups of Tea. That’s life. No matter how well we plan, things never go as we expected. We shouldn’t lament this fact, we should embrace it.
- Never Give Up: This was the biggest lesson for me from this book. Mortenson never gave up. He never gave up when money was short and donors were no where to be found. He and his mission are famous now. But in the beginning, when a fundraiser couldn’t draw more than a couple of people, he kept moving forward. If you believe in what you do strongly enough, you’ll keep at it until success finds you. And it will.
Three Cups of Tea is an inspiring book you won’t want to miss.