The Costco Coffee Filter Life Lesson.

By Tom Demerly.


A couple years ago I moved back to Michigan from California to start a new business. I went to Costco with friend Sue Nichols Riegle.

I needed coffee filters for my old coffee machine. Costco only sold them in a 1000-count pack. That’s 1000 pots of coffee. A lot of coffee.

If you make one pot of coffee every day that will last you 2 Years, 8 Months, 3 Weeks, 5 Days, 11 Hours, 33 Minutes and 19 seconds.

When you buy them in bulk, the filters are cheap. So I bought the 1000 coffee filter pack, not so much to make coffee, but also to measure the progress of my life measured in coffee filters.

I made a commitment that by the time I got to the bottom of the coffee filters, all 1000 of them, that my life would be a lot different, and better, than it was when I moved back here to Detroit to open a new business.

This morning I noticed I am about half way through the coffee filters, and my life has changed dramatically from when I opened the container. Dramatically for the better.

One pot of coffee, one coffee filter at a time.

Sometimes I drink coffee when I have to stay up late to finish a project, other times I drink it when I have to get up early the next morning to continue the project, and other times I drink it when I finish a project.

They’re half gone and I’ve made a lot of progress. I wonder what I will have accomplished by the time they are all gone?

Here’s what I’ve learned from the coffee filters, and it’s a pretty simple lesson: It’s rare to make huge improvements in your life over one pot of coffee, over one day. It takes many pots of coffee, drunk on many mornings and many nights, to make the slow, grinding, progress that goes into any kind of success.

A friend of mine named Kim Ross once told me, “Successful people are usually just the ones who never gave up.”

She told me that when we were drinking a pot of coffee many pots of coffee ago.

  1. Dario said:

    Your kind a like a modern-day Mark Twain ! That’s a good thing .

  2. Nice article….now your next one should be “defining success”. You’re welcome! 🙂

  3. When I started my training and consulting business I had NO clients. It was one phone call, one rejection, another call until I got a YES. Fifteen years later I closed up shop, but for fifteen years it was one phone call at a time.

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