Sunday, September 28, 2014

Low Hanging Fruit

Low Hanging Fruit

The urban dictionary defines ‘low hanging fruit’ as targets or goals which are easily achievable and which do not require a lot of effort. For many, success in the short-term means going after the low hanging fruit. But this has nothing to do with actually picking fruit.

We’ve got two giant olive trees: the more we prune them the bigger they get, and unless we spray them in the early spring they eventually fill up with olives.  We didn’t spray them this year and they…. filled up with fruit.  Picking the ripe olives seemed like a good idea, but then we got out the ladder.  There was low hanging fruit all right, but that got picked quickly: and once you start on something like this you can’t help wanting to go after the higher hanging fruit. 

Think about all the problems you’ve had to solve and the projects that needed finishing: just because you can and do work thru the simplest and easiest (as in: lowest) things first doesn’t mean you still don’t have to figure out how to go after or finish the rest. And picking only the lowest hanging easy stuff often doesn’t justify all the work it takes to get started: that’s when you want to want to do more.

We thought that shaking the trees would make the olives fall: forget that – these trees are huge and the ripe olives are securely attached to the branches.  When we were sitting and looking at the trees we thought we could see most of the olives: but when we went up into the tree there were far more than we ever anticipated. Most things we tackle in life are like that: they’re usually bigger and more complex than we thought and, once started, it takes far more effort than originally imagined.  Going beyond the low hanging easy stuff means better research and planning before you start, having the right tools for the job, and designing reasonable goals that can be measured and achieved.

In things like this there are two choices: either (1) read everything you can find on the Internet, talk to others who have done this before, and take time to make a play, or (2) wait until after you’ve done something for the first time to learn what you need to know.  Actually, doing both is the right way to proceed: plan wisely and learn from your first efforts: it’s not easy to get started, and it’s usually harder to finish.

So, stop thinking only about the low hanging fruit: know what you want to do, find out everything you need to know, go into it with a good attitude, remain flexible and open to learning and changing, and remember to have fun. Those are the lessons we learned when picking our olives. Done right, you’ll get all the fruit you want.

My message this week is about figuring out how to go higher and do better:

 “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” Allen Saunders

How good are you at making plans and keeping them. Life has a way of getting in between you and your plans: conditions change, circumstances change, people change, and interests change.  Flexibility is the best defense against the many things that can and do change: when that happens, be sure to weigh your alternate options, be smart, use common sense and adapt appropriately.  Try not to get so invested in what you’re doing that the changes that do occur make you nuts: focus on what’s happening, make a commitment, and do your best.  Don’t fight change: view it as an opportunity to get involved in something different. Others will most likely be watching as you consider the options: stalling, resisting or complaining can be disruptive; but active and supportive involvement will make you a role model. Life is short: learn to make plans and also live your life today!

Stay well!