It was my pleasure to be asked by NAP President, Mary Randolph, PRP to give the inspiration at the NAP National Training Conference held August 26-28 in Broomfield, CO. A few of you may have heard the story of the carrot, eggs and coffee beans. I have included the story for you all to enjoy:
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 a boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last one she place 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 another bowl.
Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”
“Carrots, eggs and coffee,” she replied.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted 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 insides 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?
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 a 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 hardened heart?
Or, am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstances that bring 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 hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity?
As leaders, we must take every opportunity to improve our associations and ourselves. It is natural to react to adversity by becoming soft like the carrot or hard like the egg. Only a true leader will take adversity, and create opportunity. An exceptional leader will be a life-long student, taking every opportunity to improve our environment around us in addition to personal growth. What situations have you been in that you reacted like a carrot or an egg? Could you have responded another way? An exceptional leader will make coffee. I invite you all to change your waters of adversity.
Valoree Althoff, PRP
NAP District 6 Director