My symbol for Growth is a dried red kidney bean. At most of our longer training courses, in Session 4, each participant is given five red kidney beans as part of their assignment for the next week. Their instruction is that they should reflect on what these beans may symbolise in the personal development. They are required to incorporate these in a prop for their presentation at the next session.
At first the young engineers look at me in amazement. What can you do with five kidney beans? The two most obvious uses for the beans are planting or eating. However, if you plant them in the garden, you won’t be able to bring them back to the next session. If you eat them, there is no useful evidence.
Reflection, creativity and a bit of work enables them to come to the next session with life-changing messages. Sometimes they are sung, danced, presented as a poem or in other exciting ways. From the current ‘Communication Skills’ training, course running over a twelve-week period, I have chosen the outlines of three of the presentations as examples of what can be done.
Nhlakanipho Mark Sibiya - 5 Beans Memories
I couldn’t think of anything very interesting about my beans. I spent the whole week thinking of what I can come up with, than over the weekend during a church service the Pastor mentioned something about never forgetting where you come from. Every pain you go through is not to kill you but to make you stronger.
The first bean made me think of the first day I was born, my uncle who sadly passed away told me that the day I was born I actually opened my eyes earlier than a newly born should. So he named me Nhlakanipho which means Clever in English terms.
The second and third bean I put them in pairs because to me it reminds me of our 2nd year birthday with a very close friend of mine who also sadly passed away 5 years ago. I put those in pairs because Promise and I started schooling together and we got along very well even our parents were friends.
The fourth bean makes me think of my fourth year at University, this year was a very difficult year for me because in that year I was very emotional because my mother actually got very sick and with all the exam stress to add up to all of that I just couldn’t handle anything coming my way but with the grace of the lord we made it.
The fifth one recalls my mum’s birthday which is on the 5th of February. This day after my mother had recovered we actually made her day very special to show her how much we really appreciate her in our life’s and for being very strong and fighting for her life just for us.
So to me these five beans mean a lot as they have revealed some important parts of my life of which made me what I am today, a strong young man who prays.
Thank you, Mark for sharing part of yourself with us. Your message is powerful.
Next we have Nondumiso’s contribution:
For seed of bean to be reproduced, it has to undergo a process of negation. A bean kept in the kitchen chest drawer cannot reproduce more beans.
Two beans out of five were thrown on the lawn, and three were kept comfortably in a chest drawer. Amongst two, one got on to an infertile place then died and one luckily fell unto fertile conditions allowing it to develop and grew.
Amongst three from the chest drawer, by chance one fell out and ultimately got swept out to a fertile lawn and developed into a plant. The two kept special bean in the chest drawer got rot for good. They rot because they were protected from the sun, storms and winds.
A husband and wife were staying together with five children, while all of them were biological kids of the husband. Mother had only three and she used to spoil them throughout their childhood, she never gave tasks. All domestic work was done by the other two; the two were sent to execute difficult tasks sometimes in the rain and all other sort of discriminations. One of them gave up and the one had a strong perseverance, until she became successful in life.
Among the three kids who used to be kept incubated by their mother, the two enjoyed the comfort zone where else one did not enjoy that relaxation zone and chose to sympathize and join those whom were discriminated. She also became successful too.
In conclusion, if person experiences adverse conditions and if he is a life-long learner, she stands to become successful. And another lesson that you get from this story is that even if you live under luxurious material conditions learning can help you to live a long successful life.
Nondumiso, your approach was novel and inspiring. We appreciated the way you interpreted the lessons from the beans.
When I was given the task to do something creative with my five beans, I had no clue where to start. As the week went on, I realized that I am generally a very organized person and everything I do must have a flowing nature. I had thought about my life and what I want to achieve in my life and what better way to depict this than with beans. I just thought that sometimes thinking about what you want to achieve can be stressful as it isn’t an easy road. Representing these goals with simple beans made me realize I can achieve one goal at a time and gives me a structure to follow without the stress.
In my bean collage, the first depiction is of me graduating at the end of the year. After my graduation I would like to invest in buying my own home. The next step for me is to buy my German engineered sports car which is shown in the collage. When I have gained enough experience in industry I would like to start up my own business, which is represented by the bean behind the desk. When I have reached the stage in my life where I have achieved all my previously mentioned goals, all that is left for me to achieve is my dream of learning how to fly an aero plane.
If something as simple as beans can achieve all this, then so can I.
Sanjeev’s visual presentation was unique. He showed his five major goals and each one had a bean as the person’s head! Well done, Sanjeev.
So, what could you do with five dried beans? How could they represent your goals or lessons learnt? By being forced to be creative, we often surprise even ourselves with the insights that emerge. Try it, it works!
In the article following this one, three more examples of Individual Growth are shared. These are from a different group. Beans certainly are inspiring, aren’t they?
For more information on the 12-week ‘Communication Skills’ course or any of our other training programmes, please contact Brenda Eckstein on +27 82 4993311 or firstname.lastname@example.org