Lesson from a Wild Mushroom

Our environment helps us grow and die

Beautiful, wild mushroom. Not sure what type it is, though.

The Backstory

When did 50 degrees Fahrenheit require a winter coat and rabbit fur hat like it was the middle of winter? Eh, at least I’m not cold! That’s what went through my mind, as I stood waiting for my daughter’s school bus.

As I walked back from the end of the driveway engulfed in my winter gear, while dodging rain drops falling from an endless, cloudy sky, I noticed a white ball in the middle of the grass. I didn’t think it was anything special, until I knelt down and took a closer look.

The Object

There sat one of the most perfectly formed mushrooms I have ever seen. Straight out of Smurf Village!

Wild mushrooms are really fragile, usually ugly looking, and often poisonous. Honestly, I was afraid to touch it!

This one had a perfectly shaped dome, equally-spaced gills, and was propped up like it owned the yard.

Growth Environment

The weather, ground conditions, and growth location were perfect for this mushroom. Wet, cool, and plenty of fallen ash tree remains from which to grow. I wondered why mushrooms seemed to flourish in our yard, so I did some brief research:

There’s an association for everything, so I’m not surprised that there’s one for mushrooms that grow in Ohio. Turns out that cool, damp, and shaded areas with a lot of decaying matter is the perfect recipe for mushroom growing.

Death Environment

After all the “oooo’s” and “aaaaahh’s” I had regarding this mushroom, I was shocked how fast it died. Two days… just 2 days, and it dried and shriveled up into this…

As the literature states, mushrooms need a lot of regular moisture, and two days without dampness and no trees to block the sun — poof — no more mushroom… just an ugly yard ornament waiting to be mowed down.

The Lesson

The speed in which the mushroom grew to beauty and quickly died is both sad and fascinating; you would think that a bright sun and regular moisture levels would be a great thing… but not for the mushroom.

Unfortunately, people tend to put themselves in these types of situations — one where the environment doesn’t fit with the person.

If you surround yourself with who and what you want to be, then, that is who and what you will become.

Teaching ways to adapt to an environment is important, but it’s just as important to know when to remove yourself from an environment. If you don’t like your job, work on leaving and getting a better one; if you hang out with people who misrepresent you, leave them with confidence.

While it’s easier said then done, having the self-awareness and working hard to improve your situation will pay off in the long-run, even if there are short-term losses.

The Take-aways:

  • You always have to look out for number one, yourself.
  • Create and influence your own environment
  • Help others avoid shriveling up and dying in a bad environment
  • Not everyone “needs the sun” to grow and thrive

We all grow in specific environments that help us achieve greatness and make a positive impact; if you change the environment too much too fast, we begin to shrivel up and die like this mushroom. Find the right balance.

Written by Shaun Holloway.