In Nome, Alaska, teachers often face situations that are a bit different from their counterparts in the lower 48. One Christmas, a 4th grade teacher, a newcomer to Alaska, had just received her latest curriculum resource guide, published in Ohio, and was discussing with the class some suggestions for the Christmas pageant.
The instruction manual read: “For the children playing Santa’s reindeer, there should be brown outfits. And reindeer horns could be made of bare branches, trimmed to the proper shapes and painted.”
She looked out at the barren, treeless, snow-covered landscape. “Well, children,” she sighed, “I guess we’ll have to do something else. We can’t make horns of branches because there isn’t a tree for miles.” The children looked disappointed. Then one little boy spoke up. “We haven’t any trees, teacher,” he said, “But we do have lots of reindeer horns.”
The reindeer horns that proved to be the solution that this teacher needed in order to put on her class play are a prime example of “low hanging fruit”. It is the fruit on a low branch of a tree that is in plain sight and easily reachable; but that we often don’t even see because we are looking beyond it to the fruit that is higher up and usually more plentiful. Low hanging fruit offers a “right now”, “no sweat”, “in-your-face” solution to meet our immediate needs. Sometimes it serves as a permanent solution but most often, it simply bridges the gap between where we are and where we want to be
For example, for over a year, I looked for exactly the right kind of chair for my office. I wanted a comfortable chair with arms and preferably with wheels. Something not too heavy but also not too fragile. I examined office chairs and side chairs and kitchen chairs and occasional chairs and dining room chairs and I couldn’t understand why every chair that I saw seemed to fall short of my picture; until I realized that I already owned the perfect chair. It was just in a different room in my house and I simply hadn’t “seen” how well it would work in my office setting. Did I mention that one of the advantages of discovering low hanging fruit is that it usually has an economic advantage? In the case of this particular recognition and acceptance of what was right within my grasp, I saved about $300.
“Low Hanging Fruit” is one of Spirit’s blessings that we often access without even being aware of it. We call it a coincidence, or a happy accident, when a temporary “fix” appears in some situation at the exact moment that we need one, however experiences like that really aren’t coincidences. They are the fruits of Divine Guidance.
We can also actively seek out low hanging fruit when we need a stop-gap solution. Suppose, for example, you suddenly find yourself, ether by choice or by circumstance, unemployed. You are probably a bit deflated and confused about what to do next. And very likely you don’t feel ready right at the moment to seek another job like the one you just left or to embark on something brand new that you can’t be sure you’ll like any better. What you need is some fruit from a low-hanging branch, easy to reach right away, to sustain you and entertain you temporarily until you feel ready to find a more long-term solution.
Here’s an exercise that may help. Begin by making a list of all the things you love to do – both professional and personal. This list should include a wide-variety of activities – mental, physical, creative, recreational, social, etc. The only criterion for an activity to make this list is that you are very happy when you are doing it.
Next, make a list of all the things you do really well. It doesn’t really matter how much you enjoy doing the activities on the list. It only matters that you are proficient at doing them.
Then scan the two lists and then make a third list of every item that appears on both of the first two lists. Finally, choose the items on the third list that you really believe someone would pay you to do for them. Those items are your “low hanging fruit.”
Allow them to rest on your mind for a while and ideas will come to you about how to start using those particular talents. Even if you don’t get paid at first, or don’t get paid as much as you want to make eventually, trust the process. The gift of “low hanging fruit” will always serve as your ideal route to a greater good.
The harvest is yours for the picking. All you have to do is to be ready, willing and able to accept your good.
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