Egg, Potato or Coffee Bean

coffeeThe following is often considered to be a “classical” tale that is used within motivational training circles as a means of pondering what kind of person you are when faced with challenges – are you an egg, a potato or a coffee bean?

There appear to be a number of variations to this tale, some transposing a carrot for the potato, others reciting that the bestower of wisdom being the father (a chef) or even grandmother.  Regardless of variation, the point left to ponder is the same ..

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 potatoes, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans.

eggShe let them sit and boil without saying a word.  In about twenty minute she turned off the burners.  She fished the potatoes 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?”

“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” the daughter replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the potatoes.  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 potatoes 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 potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this:  Which are you?

  • Are you the potato that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do you wilt and become soft and lose your strength?
  • Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?  Did you have a fluid spirit, but after death, a break up, a financial hardship, or some other trial, have you become hardened and stiff?  Does your shell look the same, but on the inside are you bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
  • Or are you 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.

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

How do you handle adversity?

ARE YOU A POTATO, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN.

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