Norton: Grabbing low-hanging fruit can lead to greater success later (column)

Michael Norton

One of my favorite quotes is this, “The fruit we eat on the mountaintop was grown in the valley.” I have heard this quote many times and it is usually attributed to either Fred Smith or Billy Graham, and either way I would consider those very credible sources of information and inspiration.

And then there is another common philosophy about going after the low-hanging fruit in life and in business. Basically, that means that we look for those things that we can accomplish quickly and easily without too much effort or resistance. And although I subscribe to the philosophy of tackling the most difficult tasks first, I am also a huge proponent of going after the low hanging fruit as it builds confidence, momentum and success that can propel us forward towards the achievement of other goals and dreams.

A selling professional may have some prospects and customers that are immediate candidates for their products and services. The fit is perfect for both the sales person and the prospect or customer. The product or service solves a problem and is available within the budget. Still takes effort, but typically the low-hanging fruit opportunities are a much easier climb than other more complicated and prolonged sales cycles.

When recruiting for a new position or a replacement position, and if we have been keeping an active recruiting funnel going, we can typically back-fill a position or hire a new person relatively easily, more low-hanging fruit. Again, some effort will be required, but not quite as hard as if we started with zero candidates to choose from.

I have mentioned the word effort a few times now. Effort is important even when grabbing the low-hanging fruit because it is said that, “Talent without effort breeds mediocrity.” So, whether or not we are going after a big deal, hiring a new team member, working on a large project or task, the amount of effort will determine our level of success.

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Many times, I will hear people talk about the successes of other folks or businesses. They seem to think that magically these people and companies have just risen to the top out of pure luck or happenstance. They think that they were somehow predestined to succeed. And that is hardly, and I mean hardly, ever the situation.

Most of the top executives, sales people, managers, leaders and everyday ordinary people I have met with or interviewed have shared their story of hard work and growing the fruit in the valleys of life. And along the way they grabbed whatever low hanging fruit they could find to help drive their purpose and passion as they worked toward the mountaintop.

So how about you? Are you looking at the mountaintop and wishing you were there? Or are you in the valley, putting in the time and effort that it takes to get yourself to the mountaintop? Either way, and as always, I would love to hear your story at And when we can grab the low-hanging fruit along the way, and learn to enjoy it on the mountaintop, it really will be a better-than-good week.

Michael Norton is the president of the Zig Ziglar Corporate Training Solutions Team, a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily

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