Before Harvest: Pruning!?

Harvest is getting started in Dry Creek Valley and the coffee shops are abuzz with conversations about the weather, the lack of vineyard workers and the prospects of a good vintage.  But, a few weeks ago, there was another, less notable event.  Workers walked the vineyards and dropped grapes... they intentionally cut off perfectly good bunches of grapes and left them on the ground.  Seeing grapes just lying on the ground is always a bit jarring for me.  It doesn't seem like the best thing to do right before harvest!  After all, don't you want as many grapes as possible to crush for wine?   Well, it turns out, good vintners really want the best grapes to make the best wines and this is one way of achieving that goal.

The smaller clusters may have some good grapes on them, but they are siphoning off some of the nutrients that could go to the larger cluster.  If the smaller clusters are dropped, the larger clusters will have a couple more weeks of nutrients pushing them to become even better.  Not only do the larger, more dense clusters have more fruit, but they will better withstand the trip from the vineyard to the winery.  With the final push of nutrition and maturing, they will develop a more complex flavor profile, ultimately creating a better wine.  So, perfectly good, small clusters are dropped in deference to the ultimate goal of excellent wine.  

I have a love/hate relationship with this concept.  First of all, I'm a small person and I don't like the idea of the small clusters getting the "snip" off the vine to send more good stuff to the larger clusters!  Haha!  Seriously...

In life and leadership we are often faced with decisions to cut out programs, relationships, and activities that are taking too much energy from those that are more focused or life-giving.  This is hard!  But, as Jim Collins notes in his book Good to Great,

"Good is the enemy of great."

We must be disciplined to make the hard choices of dropping perfectly good programs that miss the laser focus of our organizations.  Good programs may be taking resources from the intensity and potential of great programs.

We must consider letting go of interesting relationships that are siphoning the nutrients out of our life.  We all have a few relationships that are not intentionally growing, but they are certainly taking up an inordinate amount of time.  These relationships may be taking nutrients from other relationships that could be more vibrant.

And, we must find a way to say "no" to wonderful activities that distract us from our goals or who we want to be.  For me, I really enjoy visiting with friends, but I must say "no" sometimes to leave open space in my life for other, more purposeful activities, even if that purpose is taking care of myself!  Trust me... and you know this... it's hard to say "no"!

Lately, as I've been considering these hard choices, both personally and professionally, I consider the kind of wine I'd like to make of my life.  Do I want a flabby, uncomplicated wine to showcase my life and work?  Or would I prefer to have my life represented by the layers of flavor and complexity of a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon?

What kind of wine are you creating?  Do you have the guts to drop a few clusters in order to get great wine?

PS... whatever you cut feeds the ground and subsequent harvests.  More on that later...