Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Where's Your Mushroom Soup?

The other night I was at Trader Joe's picking up a few items, when I overheard a woman talking to one of the grocery staff, who I'll call "Steve." The store was about an hour away from closing.

"Where are the mushrooms? I don't see the mushrooms!" she said, rather urgently to Steve.
"This is all we have left," he said, pointing to a few remnants in one of the produce bins.
The woman looked at the bin in horror, as if she were identifying the body of a deceased loved one on "Law and Order."

"You don't understand," she said. "I can't make my mushroom soup. I was going to make my mushroom soup tonight."

Steve stood there, not knowing what to say. He seemed to feel badly, but knew there was no way he could suddenly produce mushrooms if there weren't any left. I had my own thoughts while listening in from the checkout line:

How about planning ahead,
I thought to myself. Or trying another supermarket. Or maybe making your soup another night. Or maybe making another kind of soup.

But when I saw the woman's face, so let down, so disappointed, and saw how clearly at odds she was with this situation, I understood. It was truly a soup crisis. There were no other mushrooms to be had then the ones from Trader Joe's, and certainly there would be no soup in her home tonight. No soup for you!

On the way home, thinking about the little life lessons tucked inside these incidents, I realized that the soup was a very good analogy for our business plans and signature projects, such as e-books, courses, presentations, and even blog posts. Basically, we have to plan for our soup. We have to get our ingredients in order ahead of time, know the recipe or at least enough to improvise on it and get it out there, and be flexible. We need to know why we are making one kind of soup as opposed to any other, and reasonably assess that the time it takes to do it will be worth it. We may not always have exactly what we need, so we need to learn to work with what we have. And if for some reason we can't make our soup they way we intended, we need to get real and make -- or do -- something else. And if our soup doesn't come out right for whatever reason, we may have to make it again and again and again, until we get it right.

So I had my lightbulb - or rather - my mushroom, moment. This blog post is my mushroom soup for the night. How about you? Where's your mushroom soup?

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