Sunday, April 24, 2011

Carrots, Eggs, and Coffee by Brian Klemmer

--Leaders change the situation instead of being changed by the situation 

What are you most like: a carrot, an egg, or coffee?

A carrot starts out firm, but when you put a carrot in boiling water it becomes limp. An egg starts out with a hard shell and is soft in the middle, but place it in boiling water and the inside becomes hard. And when you put coffee in boiling water, it changes the water completely.
What challenges have you been experiencing in your career, family life, physically or spiritually? Think of any of those situations as the boiling water.

Some people are like carrots. Oh, they act tough enough, but the challenges of life soften them, they wilt and won’t stand up for themselves any more.

Other people are like eggs. As they confront challenges they get hard on the inside. They’re calloused, they become unable or unwilling to feel and do not allow themselves to connect and relate with other people.

Leaders are like coffee. When thrust into the challenges of life they actually change the situation.
Have you been a carrot, egg, or coffee? Buy some coffee, even if you don’t normally drink it, and put it in a bowl on your desk. Let that “trigger” you to be a leader who, like coffee, changes the situation you are in for the better.

As a child, I saw people as one of two types: There were the nice caring compassionate people. They didn’t seem to make much happen, didn’t date the nicest girls or guys, and weren’t movers and shakers. Then there were the people that made things happen, but they were often arrogant, hard, and self-centered.

It didn’t seem fair. I wanted to be compassionate and caring and yet able to change the world. I wanted to be what I now call a “Compassionate Samurai:” a warrior with a heart for service and contribution.
That’s what it will take to change things, like the fact that one out of every eight children drops out of school in the USA, rampant illiteracy in the world, a marriage that is not working, or a satisfying career in an uncertain economy.

Carrots and eggs won’t do it. This week, be like coffee. Be a Compassionate Samurai, a warrior with a heart for service and contribution who alters the world you live in.

Leaders change the situation, so even after they leave, things are different than when they arrived.

Action Step #1
Buy a bag of coffee and put it on your desk as a trigger device.

Action Step #2
Write a brief paragraph describing the biggest challenge you face in your life right now. Then, write another short paragraph on exactly how you’d like your life to be in that area right now. And finally, write a sentence that describes one specific action you will take this week--no matter how big or small it seems to you--to change your life to being exactly how you’d like it to be.

An Example
Early in my career in the seminar business, my mentor sent me to San Diego to save the failing market there. The seminars were so poorly attended they were considering closing down our San Diego office.
When I arrived, I noticed that a lot of teenagers were hanging around the office. The environment and feeling created by all those kids was driving away the more conservative, successful business people we also wanted to bring into our seminars.

Like attracts like.

The teenagers were good people who deserved to be supported and served, but it was hurting our bigger market. So I created another place for the kids to hangout and made it clear they were not to be around our office.

It was not an especially popular action for many of our seminar graduates, but it changed how the rest of us thought about the organization and who we attracted. Within a short period of time, San Diego was a thriving market for our seminars.

That is what coffee is all about!

“What we are depends mainly on what we look for”
--John Lubbock

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