Fly on Soup - Business Lessons

The illusion of success can trap you in a business that keeps you buzzing but doesn’t fuel your passion.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman

Sunday evening I was sitting at the kitchen table, reading a good book on my Kindle, and eating my supper.

I was suddenly distracted by the buzzing of a fly and the smacking thunk it made hitting the window at high speed, over and over. I quickly decided that my book and soup were a higher priority than the fly, which could be dealt with after. A good book should not be ignored.

About 60 seconds later it hit the light fixture above the kitchen table, stunned itself, bounced off my face and fell upside down in my organic butternut squash soup with freshly grated two-year-old, aged cheddar.

I peered curiously at the upside-down fly struggling in my soup, wings held fast by the liquid’s surface tension. Then I did what seemed to be the only logical thing at the time.

Fly In Soup

With no waiter around to offer rescue or advice, I grabbed the live fly out of the soup, opened the door and tossed it outside.

You are probably thinking the benefits of eating organic soup are wasted if a fly was doing a winged backstroke in it without first taking a shower. Me too. So I returned to the table and scooped out the portion of organic butternut squash soup that had previously captured the fly.

Even though the fly had mistakenly come into the house seeking opportunity and riches, it had decided that outside is where it would rather be. It was determined to get there, even risking its own welfare to reach the goal. I had missed understanding it’s intentions because it was annoying me, and I was focused elsewhere. If I had assisted the fly in achieving its ambitions earlier, it would not have landed in my soup in the first place. Ignored problems are like that.


During a moment of reflection today on a call with my business coach, I revisited what makes me come alive at work in my business; helping other business owners thrive. I want more of that.

Most people probably won’t have the luxury of spending every waking moment following their passion. But at least you can get charged up knowing that what you are doing will lead to that moment on a regular basis.

Choosing a business model that always makes you  wish you were elsewhere is like being that fly. You are either always hitting your head on the window or drowning in your soup. That doesn’t even make a fly happy.

When you are drowning you probably won’t appreciate the virtues of organic ingredients make your business healthier, or the addition of cheese that would make it a little more enjoyable.

If your prospects and clients sense that you hate where you are, even at a subconscious level, you will probably struggle to keep them happy. And if your dissatisfaction annoys them as much as that fly did me you’ll likely find yourself being thrown outside, or worse.

3 Ways To Be Happier Than A Fly In Your Soup

#1 – Know What Business You Want To Be In

There is almost nothing more disheartening than thinking you want to be in your business (or career), getting it going, doing it for a few years and then feeling stuck for eternity. Even worse, you will continue to tell everyone but a few trusted friends that all is great, and you’ve never been happier.

Then you start to believe it.

The disconnection between your illusion of success and who you really are creates tension. That leads to stress and other effects that add up over time.

The chances of someone rescuing you from your soup are very low.

So have the courage to admit you made a mistake and take some action to fix it.

#2 – Fix It (Or Get Out)

There are two possible positive courses of action: change your business so you can find the passion again, or get out of it. Any other choice leaves you drowning in soup.

If you have invested a lot of time or money in your business and it has some potential, figuring out how you can bring back the spark is a good place to start. Look at what you have a talent for and what you enjoy doing (they may be different) and intersect those with what adds the most value to clients via the business.

Can you restructure, refocus or delegate so you can do more of those things? Can you find a different way of doing things that would be more enjoyable? (Most people miss the second option.) Can you be happy that doing this work allows you to support another purpose?

If not, can you hire someone to run things or sell the business so you can focus elsewhere?

#3 – Get Help Getting Unstuck

There is a reason many intelligent, successful people work with coaches and other advisers. It isn’t because they can’t figure things out. It is because they can get where they want a lot faster and cleaner.

When you are drowning in your business, you often don’t have the unbiased perspective or insight to see the problem or get out of it. You may be too attached to the current way of doing things.

Do it yourself is especially enticing for coaches and consultants like myself. But helping others is different than helping yourself.

You may be surprised what a little creativity, innovation or help can do for you.

The right people on your team will tell you like it is and hold you accountable for taking action.


So stop drowning in your business or work. Stop banging your head against the window and look for the door.

And find someone to hold it open for you.

What do you need to change to be happier than a fly in your soup?

This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project

Photo Credits (Modified): Top – Flickr/Orin Zebest, Cartoon – Flickr/studio tdes and Flickr/studio tdes