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Managing Adversity -Are You a Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

In January, I attended a luncheon, and the keynote speaker was Dr. Thelma T. Daley, the 16th past President of my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

During her keynote, Dr. Daley shared the impact and legacy of our founders, who stood up for the unfortunate and weak and those who have faced numerous injustices during times in this world that were unfavorable, particularly for African Americans. Dr. Daley then told a simple story that had a huge impact. She asked all of the attendees, "Are you a carrot, egg, or coffee bean?" There are different versions of this story on social media. Here is my summary...

While visiting her mom, a daughter shared that she was very disappointed about her life and tired of struggling. Her mom then brought her to the kitchen, placed a carrot, egg, and coffee bean in three separate water pots, and let them boil. She then asked her daughter to describe how each item changed.

The firm carrot was now soft and wilted. The egg, which had a protected exterior, became hardened inside. On the other hand, the coffee bean altered the water, which became fragrant and flavorful.

When the daughter asked the mom the purpose of the exercise, she shared that every item faced the same adversity - the boiling water. The boiling might be a terrible relationship, loss of a job, death of someone special, or a financial pitfall – harrowing situations that we all go through. Yet each responded differently. Some of us fall apart like the carrot and become weak. Others will let their hearts and demeanor harden like a boiled egg. Then there are those individuals who will face their situations and transform with a disposition that will positively impact themselves and others.

I love Winston Churchill's quote, "You can measure a man's character by the choices he makes under pressure." Working in Human Resources for the last 36 years, I've seen it all and have faced my own adversities both inside and outside of the workplace during my lifetime. I've learned that how you respond can tear you apart or make you stronger. Know that people are also watching how you respond and will judge you (right or wrong) - It is part of human nature. Therefore, I encourage you to strive to be like the coffee bean whenever possible.

If you are struggling, seek the support of a coach, mentor, or therapist. Each plays a different role which can help you to emerge stronger than before. A coach can help you to get unstuck and partner with you to identify positive actions to face your challenges. A mentor can share how they conquered similar situations with outcomes better than they could have imagined. A therapist can help you uncover deep-rooted issues, especially if you repeatedly find yourself in an emotionally lousy head space. Trust me, your situation will get better, and you'll have a testimony to share with others.

I will love to partner with you if you feel ready for coaching. Click the link below to schedule a 30-minute complimentary session to determine if we are a good match.


Michelle Biggs is the Founder and CEO of My Best Every Day Coaching & Consulting, LLC.

Click the link below to learn more about Michelle.

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