Being open to a better way to do things.
We were having friends over for lunch when Josh asked how he could help. The grapes were still in their store package, and I asked if he could clean and get the vines ready for the meal.
To me, that meant that he could pull all the grapes off the vine, wash the loose ones, and put them in a bowl for serving. Because — that’s how I do it, and the only way to do it…I thought.
But that is not what he did.
Josh washed off the grapes, put them back in the bowl, and that was it. A quick two-minute move, and he was done. At first, although I feel somewhat exposed to say this, I judged Josh for his method. I believed he was being lazy in his approach. I justified this because, for me, preparing the grapes for the meal involves a 10-minute process of washing the grapes, removing them from the stem, and strategically placing them in a bowl. Because my way takes more time and energy — I thought it had to be better.
As we ate our meal, I grabbed a vine full of grapes and held the small bushel in my hand. I started to remove the grapes from the stem, one by one. To my surprise, I found that I enjoyed the process of picking each individual grape off the vine, even more so than my standard handful approach.
The next time we purchased grapes, my previous judgment turned to curiosity. I decided to try Josh’s method for preparing the grapes. When it was my turn to clean the grapes, I simply ran water over them and put them in a bowl in the refrigerator — with all of the grapes still on the vine.
This process was effortless. It took only two minutes rather than the usual ten it takes to clean and pluck them from the vine.
Before I learned Josh’s method, I would often ‘put off’ cleaning the grapes because I was consumed with other things. I didn’t feel I had time to clean them. Therefore, the grapes would sit in the fridge fully packaged, unwashed, and unable to be enjoyed by the family all because someone still had to ‘put in the work’ to wash and remove them from the vine. It was yet another chore to be added to the unending list of “I’ll get to it later”, always with the intention that there will be more time in the future.
When I would end up cleaning the grapes, it wasn’t until after I fought a battle within myself. I would see the grapes that needed washed and plucked and think “I don’t put off washing the grapes — not me!” And, finally, I would muster up the tenacity to face the challenge head-on. It was me (and my stubbornness) vs. the grapes, and that was a battle that I was not going to lose. I was going to ‘put in the work.’
I had always thought that the only way to produce ready-to-eat grapes was to wash them, remove them from the stem, and place them in a bowl. This was a 10-minute process that I would tend to put off and not prioritize. However, in the extra time I was spending removing each grape beforehand, I was actually producing a product that was less fresh. By leaving them on the vine, the grapes stayed fresh longer, were more enjoyable to eat, and took less time to prepare. Until I was introduced to Josh’s new method, I thought I had to struggle, and work longer and harder, in order to produce the best product for my family.
Things are not always what they seem. The struggle doesn’t always produce the best work. Just because something takes more hard work or effort doesn’t automatically make the product better.
This small shift in perspective, to leave the grapes on the vine, changed the way our house eats grapes. Better food. Less stress. A process that is simple and convenient.
Let’s imagine that it was my duty to prepare grapes for a huge meal with thousands of people. If I was to brag about how many grapes I washed and plucked off of the vine, I would be bragging about how much time and energy I put into something that created a worse product and wasted time. I would be telling you how I put in SO MANY hours, worked so hard, wanted to quit but never gave up — only to realize that I chose that struggle. I worked unnecessarily hard because, the whole time, there had been an easier, more effective path that led to an overall better product.
The most effective path is not always the one that involves the most struggle. Sometimes, there is a more concise, simpler path that will lead to a better outcome. Choosing the easier path does not mean you shy away from a challenge, get lazy, or quit when something gets difficult. It means that you grow curious about a better way to do things. You re-evaluate your plan, research new methods, and take action. You open your mind to discovering the most practical way to deliver the best product that you can.