Courtesy of Flickr user Ellyn

Courtesy of Flickr user Ellyn

Once upon a time, there was a carrot, an egg and a coffee bean. Due to no fault of their own, the carrot, the egg and the coffee bean faced some serious adversity in the form of boiling water.

The carrot was strong, vibrant, and colorful. He also was a little arrogant. He had no fear of this water. He jumped right in and tried to resist it. As a result, he came out dull, soft and limp. His basic nature had been changed, but the adversity of the water remained undaunted and clearly the victor.

The egg was symmetrical, whole and complete in its hard shell, which protected its inner liquid nature. The egg also tried to resist the boiling water, but the water was unrelenting. The adversity was too much. The outer shell could now be easily cracked, and what it attempted to protect had become hard. Its basic nature had been altered by adversity. Yet the boiling water remained undaunted, still the adversary, still unchanged.

The coffee bean went into the boiling water, but instead of resisting it, the coffee bean embraced the water. By embracing the adversity, the coffee bean became something greater than it was. The coffee bean improved by not only facing the adversity of the water, but by embracing it!

Which are you? When confronted with pain and adversity, are you the carrot that wilts and loses strength? Are you the egg that loses its fluid spirit and becomes hardened and stiff? Or, are you like the coffee bean that changes the very circumstance that brings the pain by releasing your fragrance and flavor. If you are like the coffee bean, when things change, when you face adversity, you become better and you change the situation around you. You grow and elevate your environment to another level.

This metaphor speaks so clearly to the impact adversity can have on our lives, and to the choices we have. To me, this metaphor’s underlying message is that through embracing adversity, not only can we become a greater expression of ourselves, we can elevate the environment around us as well.

Facing a silent or even hostile audience is one form of adversity, and it’s tough. While we can’t always prevent it, and certainly can’t control others, knowing how to move forward can make all the difference. Here are my suggestions:

1. Stay engaged. Now is not the time to wilt and give up. Keep your commitment.

2. Continue to provide opportunities for connection, but if they fall on deaf ears, respect your audience or listener. Don’t push, cajole or manipulate. The most important thing you can do is be true to your core intention.

3. When your presentation or conversation is over, take a breather. Give yourself some time to process what happened. Get the support you need — talk to friends, take a walk — whatever you can do to nurture yourself. Sleep on it.

4. Look objectively at the situation, and not from a place of blame, shame or hurt. While it’s not all about you, part of it could be. Be open to a compassionate review of the circumstances and what possibilities exist to improve a future outcome.

5.  If appropriate, reach out to your contact to share your ideas and observations and ask for theirs. A phone call or face-to-face conversation is a good idea. Be open to new ideas and how you can alter your behavior or contribution the next time.

6. Get additional training, coaching or guidance to deepen and expand your knowledge and capabilities. Use this as an opportunity to gain greater mastery.

7. Share your newfound insights and skills with others who are interested. Be a source of wisdom and inspiration.

Yes, this requires courage, stamina and not a little humility.

Sometimes all we want to do when this happens is crawl under the covers and make the world go away! That’s okay too, for awhile. Progress, not perfection. At some point, for our own sake and that of our clients and dear ones, it will be time to rise above — to remember the purpose for our work and interactions, and that no matter what, others did benefit from our presentation and connection.

So, take the long view and keep going. A little courage, stamina and humility will help. I’d love to  support you. I can be reached at