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Coffee and Adversity

November 2, 2021

There are many benefits of writing a blog every single week. The biggest benefit for me is the lessons I learn from this discipline of putting my thoughts together each week.

I also enjoy hearing from people who receive these posts. Sometimes it’s an encouraging response and others times it’s people pushing back on something with which they disagree. I especially love it when someone shares an idea or something they’ve learned that might be valuable for my readers.

This post is inspired from one of those situations and includes a story shared with me by Maria.

Here’s a story about adversity from an unknown author:

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?” Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”

When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?

I had never heard this story before. Sure, I’ve heard plenty of illustrations and quotes on adversity. But I love the coffee example and angle.

Often we focus solely on whether adversity makes us softer or stronger. But in either of those situations, the focus is completely on ourself. Here’s a question each of us should ask: how does what I’m experiencing affect others?

How does my attitude affect my workplace?

How does my energy impact my family and friends?

How does this challenge I’m facing help me to be a better person?

When we focus on others, even our most difficult circumstances can be a catalyst for positive change for others. 

So, this week, be like coffee and work to make the lives of others better! (Because everyone loves coffee, right?)


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