Carrots, Eggs & Coffee Beans

There’s an old story about carrots, eggs and coffee beans that I would like to share with you. The lesson this story teaches about adversity is timeless. It’s an important lesson to remember both in business and in personal life.

Pic Coffee

A young woman went to her mother and explained that life was very hard for her. She was tired of fighting and struggling.  Her mother took her to the kitchen and filled three pots with water and placed them on the stove to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. Twenty minutes later, she fished out the carrots and placed them in a bowl. Then, she pulled out the eggs and placed them in another bowl. Finally she placed the coffee 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 noted that 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 richness and savored its aroma.  The daughter then asked to her mother: “What does it mean?” The mother explained that each of these objects faced the same adversity: boiling water, and each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong and hard. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin external shell protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through 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 one of these 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:

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?

Am I 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 become even better and change the situation around you.

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Learning to Unlearn

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”
Charles Darwin

Pic Learning

With the increasing volume of information and advances in all fields, we are driven to continuous learning to keep up-to-date. Our understanding of things and our capacity for solving issues is now far more important than just acquiring knowledge.

The latest generations were educated in a model based on memorizing data rather than practicing in the real world. Today, it is essential to learn to be flexible and permeable, to have the possibility to adopt different perspectives and to be able to change the course of things.

We are all born with a strong desire to learn, but some people lose the passion for learning and avoid situations where they may be forced to learn something new: they prefer to create a safe and secure world for themselves. In order to move forward we need to be in a constant state of adaptation, continually unlearning old rules and relearning new ones. That requires continually questioning assumptions about how things work, challenging old paradigms, and ‘relearning’ what is now relevant in our job, in the industry, for our career and even for our life.

The major changes we will be forced to make in life will involve unlearning old habits and views that no longer serve us. It is therefore essential to “unlearn” in order to be able to acquire new knowledge and skills. This does not mean to regress, but to be able to move forward leaving behind useless burden, eliminating beliefs, prejudices and ideas that are no longer useful to us.

The world of work is moving and changing fast. However, it is not just about keeping up with the rate of change and the nature of the work we do, but how we do it and where. Our ability to adapt to change and to proactively make changes in our career is what will make a crucial difference in the future.

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