A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”
The following is a story by an unknown author describing how difficult situations and circumstances affect our attitude and behaviour towards life.
The boiling water represents adversity and hardship we face in life. The egg, carrot and coffee represents the different responses and reactions to these circumstances.
The egg before it was in the water, was hard outside and fluid inside which means that it’s resilient on the outside but fluid, soft and flexible, adaptable to any situation. But after being in the boiling water, the shell was still hard but the inside is hard also. Which means that it was fluid and responsive before but now has become hard and bitter. Difficult situations made one become inflexible, bitter, impenetrable, hard to handle, hard to forgive.
The carrot was resilient and strong but life circumstances caused it to lose its strength and and vigour and becomes feeble and weak. Do problems make you cower and flinch or does it awaken that lion spirit within you to arise and conquer?
The coffee beans response is very different from the carrot and egg. It doesn’t allow difficult circumstances to change it. It changes its circumstances. It exudes aroma and gives flavour to the water. The hotter the water the greater the flavour and aroma something that people can drink and enjoy. Do you in difficult situations, turn everything around in your favour. In spite of your situation, do you become a blessing to others around you? Do you turn adversity to opportunity, disappointment to appointment?
So what are you?
There was an experiment conducted by scientists where 4 monkeys were put in a cage. In the middle of the cage was a pole going upwards with bananas at the top of the pole. The more ambitious of the monkeys climbed up the pole but were met with an electric shock when they reached the top. However, because they were hungry, they kept on trying to climb the pole, only to be met again and again with electric shocks. In the end those who had been shocked a few times stopped trying and retired to one corner of the cage.
One of the monkeys was taken away and was replaced with a new monkey who did not know about the shocks. After a while, each time, they brought a new monkey in, the others will pull him down and indicate to him what the perils were -“We’ve been there, done that, worn the t-shirt. Electric shocks at the top. Don’t even try it.” The original monkeys that had received the shock, eventually were removed from the cage. None of the new monkeys had ever experienced the electric shock themselves. Meanwhile, the electric shock had been removed. The original monkeys failed to achieve, the monkeys left failed to achieve.
Don’t be influenced by other people’s failures. I know that we need to learn from other people’s mistakes but just because they could not do it, doesn’t mean that you won’t either. If God has put a dream in your heart, that means there is a plan in place to pursue it. You just need to find the right timing and season for your dreams to become reality. Learn from the monkeys. The shock was removed but no one attempted to retrieve the bananas, because of the past, even the monkeys that had not experienced the past failure still did not go for the bananas. Even though it was the right season, right timing (the shock was removed), they were crippled by others experiences. I know what I’m talking about because it has happened to me. I had a dream of starting something new and I attempted to start the project but everything fell apart. I was discouraged by some people to continue to pursue it. I was so upset and discouraged, I just became depressed and I didn’t try anything again. Even to try anything new, I just thought, “been there, done that, worn the t-shirt”. I had to shake myself out off it. I said to myself, “ I will not be another casualty of depression, I’m not going to be part of another statistic, I’m checking myself out off that!” But that dream is still in my heart and I am determined to move forward.
The past, or past failures, if you allow it, will keep you from the best God has for you. Do not let your past define who you are. Everybody fails in life, it’s what you do with failure that will determine who you are and who you will be. You need to learn from it, what you did wrong, what you can put right. Learn from your mistakes and failures. I made mistakes and I’ve learnt from them. Your past does not determine your future. The electric shock was removed and the new monkeys would not attempt to climb to get the bananas because the old monkeys discouraged them from doing so. They meant well, they didn’t want them to get hurt, but they stopped them from trying and attempting to achieve. Just because you may have failed at something, doesn’t mean you will continue to fail at everything.
Sometimes persistence is the key, keep on hoping, keep on trying, keep on believing you can make it.
Abraham Lincoln is rated as one of America’s greatest presidents. His image is on Mount Rushmore among the other great presidents of America. Did you know he had many failures in his career before he was elected as president in 1860?
Here is a list of his achievements and failures:
1831 – He lost his job
1832 -Defeated in run for Illinois State Legislature
1833 – Failed in Business
1834 – Elected to Illinois State Legislature
1835 – Sweetheart died
1836 – Had a nervous breakdown
1838 – Defeated in run for Illinois House Speaker
1843 – Defeated in run for nomination for Us Congress
1846 – Elected to Congress
1848 – Lost re-nomination
1849 – Rejected for Land Officer position
1854 – Defeated in run for US Senate
1856 – Defeated in run for nomination for Vice President
1858 – Defeated again in run for US Senate
1860 – Elected President
He never lost hope, he kept on believing and he was able to achieve his goals despite the obstacles that came his way. They did not deter him and neither should they deter you. Everyone has their own journey and trials they have to through. You can make it just as the old adage says, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”
Thomas Edison who invented the light bulb, when interviewed about his failures said, “ I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work”. I believe that’s the attitude we need to have especially in this new year.
Orville and Wilbur Wright invented the aeroplane, they failed on numerous occasions, but kept on experimenting. It was their failures that made them successful. Today we are enjoying the result of their persistence and determination. Sometimes persistence is the key to success. For example, we continue to fill in applications for a new job, even though we may fail , at the application or interview stage, we continue in the hope that eventually we will get a new job. At times also, it’s good to ask for feedback from companies ( what did you did right, what did you did wrong) so that changes can be made to your interview techniques going forward.
Walt Disney was told by a movie executive earlier on in his career that he lacked imagination and had no good ideas. It is alleged he was turned down 302 times before he got financing for his dream of creating Walt Disney World. Today he holds the record for most Oscars won by an individual.
Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of his time, has said, ““I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
A Chinese proverb says that, “failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up”. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid of failure. So many do not try because they’re afraid they’ll fail. I was in that position I was afraid to try again. Failure is refusing to try again.
Don’t let the past determine your future. God has said this concerning you, “ For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope”. Jeremiah 29:11. When God puts a dream in your heart, he will give you all you need to pursue it. You may receive some resistance, you may receive some hate, but you keep pressing on and pressing in until your dream becomes a reality .
Be wise and know your time and your season!