Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mush and making things better

This is one of my favorite stories from my family. I've retold it many times with my own "moral".

Background on Mush

Growing in a large family, my mom had to be creative in keeping us all fed. For breakfast, she often made "mush". To make mush, she would crack whole wheat in her wheat grinder (how many houses have a wheat grinder today?). My wife now buys cracked wheat in bulk at the local health food store. My mom would boil the cracked wheat for 8-10 minutes. We would add milk and honey and it wasn't too bad (I'm sure that it was better than going hungry, which we never did).

I don't think any of us liked mush very much, but we got used to it. I know some of my siblings have had cravings in their older years for mush. Several years ago I was living in Brazil and had a craving. They sold cracked wheat in the grocery store for meatballs (I don't remember what they were called, but they were good!). I had the bright idea of making mush, but it wasn't like my mom's. I had to add a little flour to make it creamy like her's.

The Mush Story

One time, Leif, a friend of our families stayed with us. I think his parents went on a trip and they farmed their kids out. In the morning, my mom made mush and dished everyone up a bowl. Leif, who was trained well, made his best attempts at eating the mush. To make it easier to swallow, he was taking very small bites. We noticed he was less than fond of mush, and we noticed he hadn't added milk and honey. We told him that it would taste better if he added milk and honey. He looked up at us with a determined look and very seriously said, "I don't want to make more of it".

The Moral

There have been many occasions in my work career when I have been in meetings. It's not my nature to sit quietly if I think things could be better. After attempting to speak up and make the meeting better, I end up creating controversy that results in the meeting lasting longer while we try to resolve the issues I have raised. I usually end up leaving wishing I had said nothing. Basically, I was just trying to add "milk and honey" to make it taste better. Since then, I've learned that Leif had it right: sometimes it's better not to "make more of it".


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