I was picking apples from the tree a few days ago, before the autumn winds turned them all into bruised windfalls. There is something soothing and relaxing about being out in the garden alone, picking the fruit and carefully putting it in a bag or box to store or share with neighbours. Concentrating on fruit picking and climbing up and down a ladder or on a chair every couple of minutes, rather than worrying about other things can give you a perspective on strategies to deal with other aspects of life, without having to think about specifics of any one problem and I realised that I was learning a lot of valuable lessons about life.
When Birds come calling – get picking
One of our apple trees (we have 5) is a magnet for birds. When they start flocking to that tree, it’s time to pick the fruit, before it’s all spoiled by peck holes, letting rot in. The birds are a good indicator that the fruit, especially at the top of the tree, is ripe and ready to eat, even if that lower down is not quite ready.
Life lesson 1
If you have a regular or annual job or even a big job to do, what are the “birds” that can signal to you that it’s time to do something? If you regularly run over on your credit card for instance, maybe an email or letter from your bank should be dealt with immediately, rather than ignored, before your card gets declined. If you try to watch your weight, maybe the “birds” are your waistband getting tighter. Think about what happens just before something has to be done. If you can pick up on those signals early enough, you will have fewer problems.
Low hanging fruit is easy but not necessarily the best
The low hanging fruit is the one you can pick standing on the ground. It’s easy to reach, it’s perfectly edible and probably less likely to have been attacked by the birds, who prefer the fruit at the top of the tree. If you don’t have an apple, then the low hanging fruit is the one to get. On the other hand, it may be smaller and not as red brushed by the sun and a bit more effort, using a chair or stepladder (careful) would get you a bigger, possibly sweeter apple.
Life lesson 2
Should you go for low hanging or the high fruit? How about both? If you are working on the internet, perhaps trying to rank a website, then the low hanging fruit is best to try for first. Get those easy keywords, find the quick sales, get the articles written and posted, because that low hanging fruit is what will lead you to the higher fruit. If you are picking apples on the other hand, it may be best to get out the stepladders and go straight for the high fruit, it is often bigger and sweeter and will provide you with a better return for your effort. Choose what is best for your circumstances – the easy wins or the longer term gains?
Find a Different Perspective To Get The Fruit
When you’re in the middle of an old apple tree, balancing on a chair or stepladder supported by an uneven grassy lawn, with gnarly branches poking at your back, it can be hard to spot all the apples. They may be hiding behind leaves or on the other side of a branch. Getting down from the chair or ladder to view from the ground, or climbing a bit higher can give you a whole new perspective and help you find fruit you had not realised was there.
Life lesson 3
A new perspective is very helpful when trying to solve problems. If you can look at a problem from a different point of view, or from a different angle you may find solutions that were not visible when you stayed in the same place and kept looking in the same areas. Standing back, taking a deep breath, asking for someone else’s point of view are all useful ways of gaining a different perspective. What do you need to take a different perspective on in order to find the fruit?
Find Your Strategy
Placing the ladder or the chair in the right spot to pick apples without getting poked in the eye or risking falling means looking at the situation to decide which set of apples to go for and the safest and best place for the ladder / chair BEFORE climbing up and picking. Looking for the right spot ahead of time gains you the most apples with the least amount of shifting around.
Life lesson 4
What do you need to develop a strategy for? Are you writing a report, finding keywords, researching something, selling goods on a stall, teaching your child to read or digging a garden pond? Each of these would benefit from developing a strategy to tackle it. What is your goal? What is your strategy to reach it? My goal was to make an apple tart! My strategy included first getting the apples.