Recently, I came across a parable I had not heard before and really loved it. It’s the story of Egg, Potato and Coffee Beans which goes like this:
A daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed that just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.
Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each over a high fire. When the water began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot. He then left them boiling for a while without saying a word to his daughter.
The daughter moaned and waited impatiently, wondering what her father was doing. After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes and eggs out of the pots, and placed them in different bowls, and poured the coffee into a cup. Turning to her he asked, “What do you see?” “Potatoes, eggs and coffee,” she quickly replied. “Look closer,” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After removing the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face. “Father, what does this mean?” she asked. He then explained that the potatoes, eggs, and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity - boiling water. However, each one reacted differently.
The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.
The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water, then the inside of the egg became hard.
However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.
“Which are you,” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
I think this parable is so universally applicable, no matter your life experience. We are all occasionally put in “hot water” and forced to choose how to respond. Maybe you’re starting a particularly challenging project, maybe you are dealing with a difficult relationship, or have to take on a responsibility you weren’t expecting or prepared for.
How natural is it to approach hard situations like a potato? We put our guards up and put forth an unrelenting attitude, believing we’ll easily get our way and be protected from dealing with the difficulties of the situation. However, the pressure builds over time, breaks us down, and all we’re left with is mushy potatoes.
Sometimes we face challenges more like the egg, unprepared and easily broken, believing that the adversity is inescapable. Eventually, we become jaded and with a hardened spirit, lose all faith that the circumstances can be improved.
What if we started facing adversity more like coffee beans, knowing that we have the power to turn the situation into an entirely different experience? Don’t suffer through a hard project, instead highlight all the positive progress you’re making. Don’t be uncompromising in your relationship, but let your positive energy be contagious. Don’t shy away from new responsibility, approach it in your own, unique way to create something totally unexpected.
Let’s take on the struggles and make some delicious cups of coffee!
Until next time…we are Advoco, make every minute count.
About Kate I was born and raised in Greenville, SC. After graduating from Clemson with a degree in Industrial Engineering, I moved to Atlanta, GA with my husband where I got my start working on enterprise level software implementations. Eventually, finding our way back to Greenville, I got a great job with Advoco and currently work as a Solution Consultant on the Commercial Delivery team. My husband and I love our home near Travelers Rest, where we enjoy the running, biking, and visiting local merchants on the Swamp Rabbit trail. When I’m not working, I love to spend my time playing board games with friends, exercising, traveling (when I can), or relaxing with a glass of red wine and a puzzle. Have a question for Kate? Send her an email!