Potatoes, eggs & coffee

Posted by on Feb 17, 2017

A story about a father, daughter, some common ingredients (potatoes, eggs and coffee beans) and our ability to make choices.


Once upon a time there lived a girl and her father. The daughter was prone to complaining to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. “Life is such a struggle”, she would say, “Just as one problem is solved, I have to solve another one. I am so tired of fighting all the time.”

Eventually her father took her to the kitchen. He took three pots, filled them with water and placed each on a high heat on the stove.

Before long the pots began to boil. In the first pot went potatoes. He placed eggs into the second pot and ground coffee beans in the third pot. He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter.

The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After twenty minutes he turned off the stove. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. He then poured the coffee out and placed it in a cup.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it - Charles R. SwindollTurning to his daughter, he asked: “What do you see?” “Potatoes, eggs and coffee,” she replied.

“Look closer”, he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She reached out and noticed they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the egg was now hard boiled. Finally, he said to her, “Sip the coffee”. Its rich, heady aroma brought a smile to her face.

“What does this all mean, father?” she enquired.

He sat her down and gently took her hands. Leaning forward he quietly said: “We are like these ingredients facing life’s challenges. The potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same challenge, the same adversity – namely the boiling water. But, each one reacted differently.

The potato went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but in the boiling water, it became soft and weak. The egg started out as fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it too was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard. The ground coffee beans however are unique. After they are exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.”

He continued: “In life, things happen around us and things happen to us. Often we have little control over these things. The only thing that truly matters is your choice of how you react to it and what you make of it. Life is all about leaning, adopting and converting the struggles we experience into something positive.”

Which one are you going be? When adversity comes knocking, how will you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?

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