Mushrooms Are Great Teachers

White Oyster mushrooms grown by Tim Horan.

The best education I received was when I learned to grow Oyster mushrooms.

Wait a minute… my statement is inaccurate. “I learned to grow” positions me as the source of growth. This is untrue because mushrooms grow fine without me. I did not apply my knowledge to them so they could grow. I simply became aware of a process that existed long before my interest in them.

The process which results in mushrooms is marvellous. In the wild, an organism known as mycelium which consists of a delicate, white network of wispy threads, grows in all directions, and breaks down food to fuel its expansion. Food for mycelium is wood, leaves, straw, and manure.

When the expanding mycelium network reaches the limit of its food supply it produces fruiting bodies (mushrooms) which release spores to the wind to find a better place for the mycelium to exist. Mushrooms are the visible manifestation of an extensive and hidden network which sits beneath them.

Tim Horan poses behind a flush of white oyster mushrooms he grew at home.
I think it is inaccurate to call myself a “mushroom grower”. A better title is “mushroom co-worker”.

As a mushroom grower farmer, I participate in this process by providing the mycelium with new food to decompose and produce additional fruit. I work with a growth process already present in nature. I am not the source of growth, but I am a co-worker.

My willingness to work with a process that already exists means my family and I now harvest fresh Oyster mushrooms every week.

You Are Not the Source of Growth

If you claim to be a growth expert, growth hacker, or growth wizard, you are mistaken. Successful growth, whether it is with fungi or people, occurs when the conditions are right.

The hubris of the expert is when they claim credit for growth. To say “your” team has grown in knowledge and skill and is thus successful because of your expertise removes their autonomy. Growth is already in their nature. The best you can do is to ensure the conditions conducive to growth are present.

Nature allows no master over itself, but it welcomes co-workers. We are part of nature, so how could we be anything else but fellow workers?

Growth happens around us, not because of us. Mushrooms taught me that.

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