Are You a Carrot, an Egg or a Coffee Bean?

There is a great story about a young woman who 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 if she solved one problem only to have a new one pop up almost instantly.


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 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,” the daughter replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. The daughter did and noted that they got soft. Her mother then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, the daughter observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, her mother asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she smelled 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. It’s thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, it’s 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?”


That’s a fair question for all of us. When “stuff” happens, how do you respond? Do you get weak in the knees? Maybe hard headed or worse, hard hearted? Or do you take control and change the very circumstances that created the challenge in the first place?


Every successful person has overcome challenges on the road to success. Many people who failed were just a few steps away from success and only needed to push ahead a little more to succeed. In both cases their outcomes weren’t determined by the challenges they faced but by how they responded to them. 


The next time you’re tempted to quit think about why you started and then think about how you’re going to change the circumstances to eliminate that temptation. 

7 thoughts on “Are You a Carrot, an Egg or a Coffee Bean?

  1. The simple story really explains it so well. Many of us quit in frustration without thinking of what the real purpose was. Sucess, therefore, becomes even more elusive.

    1. Yes, the story really does make you think. Success can be so close and still hard to see. Sometimes I think the only secret to success is that there is no secret. Constantly evaluate your plan, adjust where needed but never never stop moving and absolutely never never never give up.

      1. Quoting: “Sometimes I think the only secret to success is that there is no secret.” Totally agree!

        I’ve expressed it this way: “There are no recipes except for cooking / baking; and the good chefs even modify them some for better, tastier outcomes.” We owe it to ourselves and others to be seeking the best! AND, I believe strongly there’s always something we can do …

        Finally, may I suggest we consciously Consider what definition of our success we’re using for any situation. That definition is critical to our efforts, our motivation. It will or should change and must be consciously chosen.

      2. Excellent point, success is deeply personal, it is different for everyone and it’s meaning changes throughout our lives. But we need to know our personal definition of success because few things are more frustrating than chasing someone else’s dream.

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