Confidence and Crisis: A Chocolate-Maker's Tale

Last Updated Oct 7, 2008 10:54 AM EDT

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Over the years I've been gathering an eclectic assortment of other people's wisdom in a box file. It is a tatty collection of magazine articles, photocopies, quotations, and printouts from the internet.

The best wisdom has truth and timelessness so I read the contents regularly and bin anything that fooled me at the time. These random scraps give me a sense of continuity and of direction.

At this unsettling and curious time one bit of wisdom comes into my mind over and over again. It came from James McMillan (McMillan Advertising Group) in the early 1990s and I've kept it ever since.
A fable for our time

Once upon a time a little old lady discovered a recipe for making a type of chocolate which her family loved.The chocolate was so fine that her children told their friends and soon she was making more and more chocolate and more and more people came to hear of it. She needed help and employed several assistants.

Her fame spread so far that strangers wanted to find her. To help them she put up signs to her house. She made the house look nice to welcome them. And her business grew and grew.

Then one day she picked up her newspaper and read that certain wise men in the big city were warning people of "a recession".

Intrigued she discovered that she was doing all the wrong things. People wouldn't want to buy her chocolate in a recession. She should be cutting her costs. So she disposed of her assistants, let the signs go and could not find the time to make the house look attractive. And people thought that the little old lady had stopped making chocolate.

They stopped coming to her house.

"Those men were right" she said, "There is a recession"

Photo by Simon Goldenberg, CC2.0