Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?

I bet you’ve never thought about it before: Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

I remember hearing this story awhile ago and I thought it was great for demonstrating perspective and to get people thinking about how they handle adversity/hardships. It would be cool to demonstrate the story as a lesson for kids but I think it would resonate really well as a professional development lesson for staff (maybe even parents!) too.

“A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life problems 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 that 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 burner to boil. In the first pot she placed carrots, in the second pot she placed eggs, and in the last pot she placed ground coffee beans. She let them boil.

After twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished out the carrots, pulled out the eggs, and ladled out the coffee. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ‘What do 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 the rich aroma.

The daughter then asked, ‘What does this mean?’

Her mother explained that each object faced the same adversity- boiling water- but each reacted differently. The carrot was strong, hard, and unrelenting. After being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg was fragile and its outer shell had protected its liquid interior. After sitting in the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique. 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?'”

Think about it: Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity you wilt and lose your strength? Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes when things get tough? Did you have a fluid spirit, but after a hardship, did you become hardened and stiff? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside you are bitter and tough with a hardened heart? Or, are you the coffee bean? When things are at their worst, do you get better, do you change the situation around you, do you elevate to another level?

How do you handle adversity?
Are you changed by your surroundings or do you bring life and flavor to them?


The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything that comes their way.

3 thoughts on “Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?

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