On my most recent Library run, I came across a small book called The Coffee Bean (A Simple Lesson to Create Positive Change) by Damon West. Curious about the title and cover, I picked it up and flipped through the pages. Surprised by the simple story format and cool illustrations, I borrowed it thinking it would be an interesting and easy read. When I settled down to read it, I completed the book in an hour because of its simple yet fascinating message on how to overcome adversity and create positive change.
The Story – Carrot, Egg, and Coffee Bean
The Coffee Bean story uses the powerful analogy of a pot of boiling water and how three objects (a carrot, an egg, and a coffee bean) are changed by the heat and pressure when placed into the pot. Though the carrot goes in hard; it becomes soft from the heat and the pressure of the water. The longer the carrot stays in the boiling water, the more it loses its original form, becoming softer and softer, eventually losing its vibrant color and taste. The egg has a hard outer shell that covers its soft liquid insides, but when placed in the boiling water, the soft liquid inside begins to get hard. And if the egg stays in the water for a long time, it becomes so hard that even the hard outer shell cracks. But when the coffee bean is placed into the pot of boiling water, it transforms the whole environment and water becomes coffee. So, as small as the coffee bean is, it is not changed by its circumstances, it completely changes its environment from the inside out.
The Coffee Bean Story
The pot of boiling water represents the hardships, challenges, and adversities that you and I face in life. The carrot, egg and coffee bean represent how we respond and are affected by the various circumstances we face. I do not know what your pot of boiling water might look like, but each of us have or have had a hardship or adversity that we have struggled to overcome or are still facing. Your pot of boiling water might be a divorce or separation, a broken relationship, the loss of a loved one, infertility, illness or disease, financial hardships or the loss of a job that defined you.
When life hits you hard or knocks you down, it is easy to throw in the towel, lose sight of who you are, what you believe and to give up on the dreams you hold dear. But at the same time, we also get to choose our mindset (fixed or growth) the attitudes we display (positive or negative) to help us be resilient and overcome obstacles. So how do you respond when you find yourself in a pot of boiling water? Are you the carrot, the egg, or the coffee bean?
When I think about my own life experiences (personally and professionally), I am sometimes guilty of allowing the harshness of certain situations to change how I behave and treat others. I can think of painful life experiences that have weakened me like the carrot, reduced me to tears and left me questioning why me? In other moments, the pot of boiling water I was thrown in hardened me like an egg who became resentful of those who hurt me and even struggling to forgive. Nonetheless, adversity has made me stronger and pushed me to be more resilient(See previous post) and better. So, as a coffee bean, I have also been able to take some of my boiling pot of water moments and transform them into coffee. And in so doing, I have overcame many hardships to have a positive impact on the people and organizations I come into contact with.
Hardships and adversity challenge us and can test our determination and commitment to what we value and believe is important. But we should never allow the circumstances of life to change us (make us bitter) or cause us to act outside of our true nature and what we believe to be wrong or right. We can choose to be a coffee bean by never losing sight of who we are, the power and strength within us and our ability to change our conditions (however difficult).
Life Applications: Five Rules of Being a Coffee Bean
The main message of the book is that, like the coffee bean, each of us have the potential to change the environments in which we operate or be changed by them. So here are five rules from the Damon West that you can use to become a coffee bean:
1.Get up every day and work out every day: Here the workout is not just physical, it includes spiritually and mentally. To get and stay in shape spiritually, West recommends you have a conversation with God and ask the following questions- How did I do today? Was I a good person? Who do I need to apologize to or forgive? For the mental workout, he reminds us that we are what we eat, so pay attention to the kind of books you read, the websites you visit, shows you watch, and the kinds of music you listen to. And for the physical, be sure to exercise, get rest, and pay attention to your nutrition.
2. Serve others: When we lend a helping hand to others without expecting to receive, we are also helping ourselves. None of us got to where we are without the help and kindness of others. So volunteer, mentor, pay it forward and actively seek ways to bless and encourage others.
3.Remember You Only Control 4 Things: Some of us like to believe we have more control over our lives than we do. But according to the author (And I agree) the only four things we control are in our minds. This is- what you think, what you say, what you feel and what you do. Outside of that, we control nothing. So, focus on the things you can control and other people will notice your example and you will be able to make a positive impact on the environment around you.
4.Your past does not define you. Your past is your lesson and not a determinant of your future. We should try to learn from our past but do not dwell there. Your losses and mistakes do not define you. Your present is a gift, and your future should serve as a motivation for you to become the best version of yourself each day. So ask yourself if/how the choices you make today will impact your future self.
5. Energy is about body language– Your energy and body language are what people see before you open your mouth. Pay attention to how you walk, your facial expressions, your tone of voice- we are always communicating. Your energy is contagious and can impact people positively or negatively, so ensure that you are spreading something good. And always remember to smile.
When all is said and done, we will all find ourselves in our own pot of boiling water. No one wants to be the soft and weakened carrot, nor the mad and miserable egg. All of us must strive to be the coffee bean that says, no matter how much heat and pressure I face, I will not allow my circumstances to change me. Instead, I will change and improve my environment and get stronger in the process. So, imagine your most difficult life situation and ask yourself how I can be a coffee bean?
Until next time, Remember, #ItsALearningLife!