Yesterday we shared a story with our staff titled “Are You A Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean”.  It is a story about perspective, adversity and how you view the things that are happening in your life. 

In a business that requires you to understand that there are two sides to every coin, that everyone has their story to tell, that your perception is your reality, I found it an appropriate topic.  So many times we get caught up in our own dilemmas and drama that we forget that many of our own truths that we subscribe to are based on our point of view; our perspective.  In an attempt to broaden their own view of things and as a reminder to myself, I decided to read it aloud. 

The story goes like this:
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.  In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans.

She let them sit and boil without saying a word.  In about twenty minute 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 into a bowl.  Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

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

The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity… boiling water – but 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 being 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 the daughter.  “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?  Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this:  Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?  Did I have a fluid spirit, but after death, a break up, a financial hardship, or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?  Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean?  The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain.  When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.  If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

How do you handle adversity?


Our staff resonated with this and to their credit were able to share their own ideas and thoughts with the group.  It gave the newcomers a closer look into our company culture and allowed the veterans to teach and share.  It was truly an eye opener for me to see them do that without any prompting and made me glad to have shared this story again.  This is one of the reasons why I truly enjoy working in the business and these kids pleasantly surprise me every day.  Things are never as bad as they seem and they're never as great either.  Maintaining our perspective on things helps us overcome adversity even if we struggle.

“When it rains it pours. Maybe the art of life is to convert tough times to great experiences: we can choose to hate the rain or dance in it.” ― Joan Marques

We choose to dance in the rain; or in this case, drink the coffee.

~ Kerry Ichimasa, General Manager at Alan Wong's Honolulu