Thursday, September 20, 2012

Adversity Parable: Are You a Carrot, Egg or Coffee?

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

~Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning~

Are you always getting frustrated when the change you desire doesn’t happen in your timeline? Instead of clinging to your assumptions that “something should have happen by now” maybe you can take the message from this parable and begin to apply it so that you reduce the amount of your energy spent on factors you have no control. It’s possible, that if you focus on what you can control that the amount of frustration that you experience over circumstances will decrease.

You’ve lived long enough to recognize that life doesn’t always go as we might hope, plan or pray. One of the greatest lessons that I have had to learn is that many times when I have been faced with unexpected challenges and delays, the situation didn’t change until I changed my approach to it. As I shifted my perspective and challenged limiting assumptions and “it should be” thinking, the level of frustrations I experienced begin to decrease. Now, unless I’m spiritually and physically drained, I automatically make every effort to get to the root of the belief that’s causing high-levels of frustration and anger in a situation. Self-awareness is such powerful tool. Maya Angelou says, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude towards it.”

How do You Respond to Adversity?

There is an old parable about a boy who was so discouraged with failing in school he told his grandfather he wanted to quit. His grandfather filled three pots with water and placed each on the high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and the last he placed ground coffee. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, he turned off the burners. He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out into a bow. Turning to the boy, he asked, “Tell me, what do you see?” “Carrots, eggs and coffee, the boy replied. Then he asked the boy to feel the carrots, which he did and noted they were soft and mushy. His grandfather asked him to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, the boy observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked the boy to sip the coffee. He smiled as he tasted the coffee with its rich aroma. The boy asked, “I don’t understand. What does this mean, if anything?”

His grandfather laughed and explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. “Which are you?” the grandfather asked, “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, becomes soft and loses strength? Are you the egg that appears not to change but whose heart is hardened? Or, are you the coffee bean that changes the hot water, the very circumstances that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases its fragrance and flavor. If you are like the coffee bean, when things are at their worst, your very attitude will change your environment for the better, making it sweet and palatable.” So which are you, the carrot, egg or coffee?

It is certain that as imperfect human beings we will not hit a homerun each time we are faced with unexpected challenge and change and handle it with great calm HOWEVER, we can strive to develop spiritual weapons and emotional intelligence skills which will help improve our ability to be like coffee when we face adverse circumstances. It is possible that we can develop habits that enable us to maintain a state of calm in the midst of our storms in life. True peace of mind is not dependent on circumstances. It comes from the inside.

 It’s Your Move ~ Aspire Higher