Day 608: Low hanging fruit

“Low hanging fruit” is a phrase I’ve heard, used by managers at the hospital where I work, regarding tasks that need to be accomplished.

Whenever I encounter any new word or phrase, first I guess the meaning, based on the context. Then,  I research it, to check my assumptions.

I haven’t researched “low hanging fruit” yet. Before I do, here are my guesses about why people at work are using that phrase:

  • There are too many things to do and not enough resources (time, people, etc.) to do them all.
  • “Low hanging fruit” are those tasks that are within reach and achievable.
  • Management is encouraging people to do those things.
  • At the same time, we should also be aware of those tasks and goals that are further out of reach, and also valuable.
  • Beware of focusing on low-hanging fruit, exclusively.

Again, these are guesses of mine.  Let’s see what I can find, by googling “low hanging fruit.”

Aha!  That was a fruitful search.  I’m choosing this  low-hanging beauty:

We have Mother Nature to thank for the expression low hanging fruit. A fruit-bearing tree often contains some branches low enough for animals and humans to reach without much effort. The fruit contained on these lower branches may be not be as ripe or attractive as the fruit on higher limbs, but it is usually more abundant and easier to harvest. From this we get the popular expression, which generally means selecting the easiest targets with the least amount of effort.

In business, the term low hanging fruit is often associated with the sale of consumer products or services. Sales professionals, especially those who are just entering the field, are encouraged to seek out the easiest customers first. Competitors may spend more of their time seeking out the higher commission sales of higher “customer branches”, leaving the low hanging fruit behind for others to claim. Parents seeking low-cost insurance for school-age children, for example, may be considered low hanging fruit by insurance companies.

Another use of the expression can be found in the political arena. A politician may set a number of easily attainable goals, and accomplish them with minimal effort. The voters may perceive the politician’s actions as proof of his strong work ethic, but in reality he only reached for the political benefits of low hanging fruit. Critics often use the expression to describe someone who chooses a sure thing over a more difficult but more rewarding pursuit.

The idea of low hanging fruit can be viewed as both a positive and a negative. On the one hand, it is usually plentiful and often ignored by those looking for more attractive offerings. But low hanging fruit can also be seen as a negative, since the picker understands how low the quality of the fruit can be and picks it anyway. Someone who consistently chooses the immediate gratification could be seen by others as lazy or unambitious.

Critics of the low hanging fruit business model point to the examples of real fruit harvesters.Orchard workers routinely begin picking at the highest point of a tree, where the fruit has been exposed to the most sunlight and is usually the ripest. It makes sense to pick the low hanging fruit last, since it requires more time to ripen. In a business or social sense, it also makes sense to avoid the easiest options if a little more effort and time would result in a much better payoff.

— wiseGEEK: clear answers for common questions (see here for original)

 How do you think I did, with my guessing? (I think I did pretty damn good.)

There are two pieces of low-hanging fruit in my mind, this morning. The first one is showing you some photos I took yesterday, when I met my sister-in-law, Linda, for a belated birthday breakfast celebration, at the Neighborhood Restaurant in Somerville, Massachusetts, USA.

IMG_8515 IMG_8516 IMG_8517 IMG_8531 IMG_8534 IMG_8537

IMG_8541 IMG_8543 IMG_8544

Here’s some fruit I want to pick, from those photos:

  • The Neighborhood Restaurant makes its own Cream of Wheat!!!
  • The first fruit you see, above, is a pumpkin.
  • Above our heads, in the restaurant’s outside patio, hung grapes in various stages of ripening.
  • The last photo shows the jelly they make at The Neighborhood, from the grapes they grow.
  • I love my sister-in-law Linda.

Before and after my breakfast with Linda, I grabbed these low-hanging shots, in the neighborhood of The Neighborhood:

IMG_8506 IMG_8510 IMG_8546 IMG_8547 IMG_8550 IMG_8551

I should explain one of the top-hanging pictures (even if it takes me a little bit of effort).  The first image shows a pink bin –in the back seat of my car — containing old Classics Illustrated comic books my older sister Ellen and I read, when we were growing up. Ellen had requested that I bring those comic books with me to the breakfast to give to Linda.  Linda and I got so caught up in catching up with each other, that when I went back to my car, Voila!  The bin was still there.

Those comic books may have been low-hanging fruit in my mind, before the breakfast, but I totally lost track of them.  And when I found them, still hanging around in my car, Linda was gone.

No worries, though. I simply drove the comic books over to Ellen and Linda’s place. Here’s a shot of them, before I gave them to Ellen:


After that, I drove over to visit my friend Barbara, who has been in my life as long as those comic books, and who has made previous appearances in this blog (herehere, here, here, here, and here ). I was too busy talking to Barbara, as we walked around her neighborhood, to take any low- or high-hanging photographs.

I did grab one more shot, yesterday, when I got home:


Those are the top branches of the tree behind our home. For the three years we’ve lived here, I’ve parked my car beneath its branches, experienced its beauty, and dealt with bird poop on my car.  Earlier this summer, my boyfriend Michael noticed the tree was dying. Those of us who live here (including my downstairs neighbor, Karen) discussed possibilities and decided the tree needs to be taken down.

The removal of that tree has been low-hanging fruit in my mind, since we made that decision.

I have two more days, to enjoy the presence of that tree. It’s not a fruit tree, but I’ve been grateful for the fruits of its living, in my neighborhood.

Thanks to that tree (and others), to Linda, Ellen, and Barbara, to Neighborhoods everywhere, to wise Geeks, to those who seek low and high-hanging fruit, to Classics I’ve read (Illustrated or not), and to you — of course! — for hanging in my neighborhood, today.

Categories: friendship, inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “Day 608: Low hanging fruit

  1. What a rich, rich, rich post!

  2. Luis Del Castillo

    Fascinating topic!

    In Venezuela we have a similar expression, we usually say “low hanging mango”, (I guess it’s because mangoes are plentiful there), the use of the expression is somewhat similar to what you describe, we use it when someone is faced with a situation and does not realize that it has an easy or favorable resolution, then we say “are you crazy? Are you going to miss that low hanging mango?” That usually opens their eyes to the reality of the situation and they notice that it’s not as bad as it seems or that it’s a golden oportunity, just wanted to share it with you and your readers.

    Like I said before, love reading your blog!

    • And I love reading your comments. Pardon me for going for this low-hanging mango right now … I’m going to have to reschedule Aaron’s appointment on Saturday. I lost track of this, somehow: We are going to see one of our favorite bands — Steely Dan! — that evening. I’ll call your office on Tuesday. Thanks for everything, Dr. Del Castillo!

  3. It’s the obvious advantages visible and available. Not always looking up to see what opportunities might be better.
    That’ s my intrepretation of “low hanging fruit.”

  4. I always gave the low-hanging fruit phrase the same negative tinge as Ronnie, Ann. It was an almost- kind metaphor for taking the slightly easy way out, in my mind.

    You had the time to enjoy your tree, Ann. Now it must go on the neighborly timetable before it leaves on its own volition, taking out cars, pets, any unfortunates in its path.

  5. happierheathen

    “Low hanging fruit”, “never let the perfect be the enemy of the good”, and similar idioms have always annoyed me. I just can’t appreciate championing mediocrity. I’ve found that I hear those kinds of things most often when talking to the managers of companies whose mission statements emphasize innovation and excellence, and very rarely from those who’ve no mission statement at all.

  6. Pingback: Day 609: Invisible | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  7. Thanks for teaching me something new, dear Ann. I didn’t know the expression.

  8. Ann, love this one also. “Low hanging fruit” is something I knew as a child growing up in Europe. The fig – peach – cherries were all low hanging and that was all I knew until about 2 years ago when deciding to enter the “dating world” after a long enjoyable time being alone with my Arabian (he is a constant). This term was a term use negatively by men, wishing a high quality rather more unattainable ladies. Has shades of sabotage or too far reaching at times.
    Reading you post it enjoyable and does conjure more sense in reality. However, I will stay with the European version memories I have sitting in fig trees, searching for the fruit bursting at the bottom while honey dripped. With a child’s hand grasping and gorging myself in delight. No one I am a vegetarian.
    Last the pictures of Boston neighborhood are wonderful and bring back memories of school and COLD. Those were the two plus coldest years I spent anywhere in my life. lol Enjoy and thanks for this post of memories. Cheers

    • I was very cheered by your comment here, MicheleElys. Thank you for all the details, including your memories of delicious fruit, the dating world, school and COLD. I, myself, am thinking about schools and COLD as we start to head into September (and my son returns to high school this week). All the best to you!

  9. Ada Lee

    This is another fabulously amazing and ingenious Ann Koplow’s blog – you weave such a good story (as ususal), set us up with curiosity, teach us something new (again), then set example by applying what you taught. Now I start seeing lots of low hanging fruits 🙂
    Thank you, Ann.

  10. Pingback: Day 721: Reunited | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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