Insight

Are You a Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?

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“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

A young lady went home to visit her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She was tired, upset, and annoyed at all these difficulties. Often, she wanted to run away or give up. Her mother listened empathetically, then took the daughter to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and boiled the water.

She then put a carrot in the first pot, an egg in the second pot, and coffee beans in the third pot. After twenty minutes or so, she turned off the fire and put all three items in separate bowls.

She put these three bowls on the dining table and asked her daughter, “What do you see?”

Intrigued, the daughter replied, “A carrot, an egg, and coffee.”

The mother told her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that the carrots were soft and mushy. The mother then asked her to crack and peel the egg. She did and noticed the egg’s inside had become hard. Finally, the mother asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter did and smiled at the rich taste of the coffee.

The daughter asked, “What’s the point of all of this mom?”

The mother explained,

“Each of these three objects faced the same adversity: boiling water. But each reacted differently. The carrot started out hard and strong but came out weak and mushy. The egg started with a soft inside and a tough shell, but it came out hard on the inside. The coffee beans were special: They changed the water. It used the hardship to elevate itself and accomplish greatness.”


The daughter’s eyes lit up as she understood the analogy.

The mother asked her,

“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Morale of the Story

adversity (n.) c. 1200, aduersite “condition of misfortune, hardship, difficulty, distress,” from Old French adversiteaversite “adversity, calamity, misfortune; hostility, wickedness, malice” (Modern French adversité), from Latin adversitatem (nominative adversitas) “opposition,” from adversus “turned against, hostile”  1 Adversity introduces us to our true self, it is during the trying times that we understand who we truly are. We know who our true friends are during adversity, and we show the world what we are made of during prosperous times. As Haruki Murakami once observed: “And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” 

As the story above depicts, when the inevitable challenges happen to us, we all have a choice whether to get bitter or better, learn the lesson or let it lessen us, get stuck in the mess or get the message. Like the carrot, we can make the vicissitudes of life weaken us, like the egg, we can make the obstacles we face in life to harden us or we can choose to turn our adversity to an opportunity for rebirth. It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when life’s obstacles and challenges come knocking. The key to navigating life’s vicissitudes is understanding the impermanence of everything in life. Don’t let success get to your head, and do not let failure get to your heart.

Are You a carrot, an egg or a coffee?

All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile [email protected] | [email protected]

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