I stumbled upon a LinkedIn post in which someone wrote about our resistance towards change, and he referenced the “New Coke” disaster. I actually didn’t know what the “New Coke” thing was about, so being born in 1987, I did what every good Millennial would do – I Googled it. 🙂

32 years ago, Coca-Cola advertised a new product launch. A new drink called – “New Coke”. People were absolutely optimistic about the new product and the Coca-Cola Company assumed that with the product launch of “New Coke” they will hit the bulls eye. It turned out to be a disaster. Only 13% of the consumers liked it and eventually the original Coca-Cola came back. (source)

I shared the article with my fiancée and while reading it to her, I started crying. She responded with “Oh you are so cute”, while hugging me. I, on the other hand, was baffled by my own tears. I always knew that I wept easily, but about Coca-Cola? Please, that I felt was too much, even for me.

As a student of the ontological coaching approach I have learnt that how I emotionally react to events has to do with “the observer I am”, and through watching “Inside Out” too many times I’ve learnt that sadness stems from the narrative of loss. The amount of sadness I experience is equivalent to how much I value what I have lost. Like losing my first $3 during a Chinese New Year gambling session (yeah, first CNY for me) compared to losing someone I love. I know, the example is extreme, but I think you get the point. 🙂

Ok, enough theory.

I knew something in that story of Coca-Cola and the New Coke disaster triggered sadness in me.

So, I started asking myself a simple question: “What did I lose?” Sadness is a beautiful emotion when I allow it to do its work and to reconnect me with what I value.

I realized very quickly that it had to do with my transition from Germany to Singapore and back. About a year ago, I was given an opportunity to work in Singapore and start a life on this beautiful tropical island with the most amazing person I have ever met.

Of course, being the adventurer that I am, I took that job and moved to Singapore. But for most of the duration that I was there, I never emotionally left Germany. I viewed the world through my “tinted glasses” and fought everything that did not fit “how I saw the world”.

It showed up very distinctly in the language I was using. Both my external and internal conversations were dominated by “should”s and “shouldn’t”s – especially the conversations in my head. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ or ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ were the most used assessments by which I was navigating through life. Linguistically, there was no exploration, and that in turn drastically limited how I saw the world and its possibilities. And one thing that did not happen was real learning.

As you can imagine, I was carrying a mood that matched the observer I was, and vice versa. Basically, I lived in the mood of resistance. So much time was spent on trying to prove that I was right, instead of exploring, learning, creating and building. Eventually, I lost my big opportunity to create a new life in Singapore. I tell you, this was quite painful, especially for the people close to me.

Through great coaching and the support of my wonderful fiancée, I allowed myself to move from resistance into acceptance, where I let myself experience sadness fully. (Remember, sadness is the emotion that comes hand in hand with loss.) It was both a cathartic and enlightening experience that allowed me to find release, open up my heart and mind, and reconnect with my inner self and the things I value.

When I read the article about the New Coke disaster, I was amazed by the Coca-Cola consumers. Their emotional connection to the original Coke was so strong that they did not allow themselves to let go of it, and they eventually got the original Coke back. Donald Keough, longtime president of Coca-Cola, said in a press conference that they did not see the “depth and abiding emotional attachment to the original Coca-Cola”. Well in this case I am quite happy because I quite like the original Coke, but can you imagine how many opportunities are lost in all the scenarios of our lives because we are unwilling to change?

So, why did I cry and what can you learn from this “New Coke” disaster?

I realized that I had lost the opportunity to create something new and valuable in and for Singapore, the beloved home of the love of my life and the next place that I was going to be setting up a home in. I had lost the opportunity to grow in a different way and direction, in a different culture. I had lost the opportunity to embrace change.

If we look honestly at our world and the speed at which it changes, it is inevitable that all of us will experience change on a personal level. The question is not if “my point of view” will get in the way, but when. I have learnt it the hard way. I was absolutely unaware of it, but that is how we human beings are designed (90% subconscious and only 10% conscious). Our subconscious thoughts, beliefs and behaviors oftentimes serve as survival mechanisms, but these mechanisms can frequently also become our greatest saboteur.

Knowing now that this is the case, I can prepare for it, for my second time moving to Singapore. Believe me, I am excited I can take responsibility for my life to come, by recognizing when “my point of view” is getting in the way and consciously removing such saboteurs in my life. To be honest, challenging my point of view – “the observer I am” – has always been my biggest source of personal growth.

So the remaining question is: Do you know “how you see the world”, and what future would be possible for you if you allowed yourself to take off your own tinted glasses?

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