A few weeks ago we started the school year off with Jon Gordon speaking first to our coaches and then to our student-athletes. He shared a story that I had not heard before about a carrot, an egg, some coffee beans and some hot water. It's a pretty good story to share with your team:
Once upon a time, the daughter of an old gardener constantly complained about her life and about how difficult it was to continue. She was tired of fighting and did not feel like doing anything. When a problem was solved another one came up and that made her give up and feel defeated.
The gardener asked his daughter to come closer to the kitchen of his cabin and take a seat. Then he filled three containers with water and put them over fire. When the water began to boil, he put a carrot in one pot, an egg in the other and poured some coffee beans into the last one. He let them boil without saying a word while his daughter waited impatiently without understanding what her father was doing. After about twenty minutes her father turned off the fire. He took out the carrots and put them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in another dish. Lastly, he ladled the coffee.
He looked at his daughter and said, “What do you see?” “Carrots, eggs and coffee,” was her answer. He brought her closer and asked her to touch the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. Then her asked her to take an egg and break it. She took the shell off and observed the hard boiled egg. Then he asked her to try the coffee. She smiled as she enjoyed its sweet aroma. The daughter then asked “What does this mean, dad?“
He explained that the three objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. But they had reacted very differently. The carrot went into the water strong and solid; but after passing through the boiling water it had become weak and easy to break up. 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 coffee however was unique; after being in boiling water, it had changed the water.
“Which one are you?” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that seems strong, but when pain and adversity knocks, do you become weak and lose your strength? Are you an egg that starts with a malleable heart ? Do you possess a fluid spirit, but after a death, separation, or a layoff, become hard and stiff? On the outside you are the same, but how have you transformed on the inside?
Or are you like the coffee? The coffee changes the water, the element that causes it pain. When the water reaches its boiling point, the coffee achieves its best flavor. If you are like the coffee bean, when things get worse you react better and make the things around you better.
And you, which one of the three are you?