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The Principle of Productivity

He also spoke this parable: ‘A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, “Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?” But he answered and said to him, “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.”‘
— Luke 13:6-9

I read this passage today and was immediately struck by The Principle of Productivity. The Principle of Productivity is this:

If a thing doesn’t produce, see if can be improved. If not, ditch it.

Here’s the process of the Principle of Productivity:

1) Assess.

“A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.” (v. 6)

Go into your “field” and take an overview of everything. It could be everything from how frequently you check your email and social media accounts to how your book is selling to how much money your business is making. Be honest with yourself. It defeats the purpose of a true assessment if you’re not.

2) Identify.

“A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none.” (v. 6, 7)

Identify what is and isn’t producing. If it’s a complete and total failure with no hope of improvement, ditch it. Keep it movin’.

3) Execute.

“‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it.” (v. 7, 8)

For that which can be improved, create a plan. What can you realistically do, change, or re-do better in order to cause your so-called fig tree to produce as it should?

4) Reassess.

‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well.’” (v. 8, 9)

After you executed your new plan(s) of action, make time to reassess everything. And again, be honest.

5) Decide.

    “‘And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’” (v. 9)

After completing your honest reassessment, make your decision. Is it producing fruit? Is the fruit that it’s producing good? Is it worth your time?

If your “fig tree” is still not producing as you’d like, you have one of four options:

  1. Pitch it. And I don’t mean an elevator pitch. As Phil Robertson would say, “Time to pee on the fire and call the dogs.” This chapter of your life or business is now closed.

  2. Rinse & Repeat. If you truly feel this project, idea, etc. is worth your time, energy, and resources, then go back to the drawing board. Try, try again.

  3. Release. If you’re ready to “release” your project, it’s producing well, and needs no more work, then congrats! You’ve reached your goal!

  4. Release & Edit. Apple is REALLY good at this. They release an iPad or iPhone, but realise that it can be better so later, they release a bigger (smaller?), better edition! And guess what?! They’ll keep on doing it because they know that every time they reassess and rethink things, they’re making a big investment in themselves that’s sure to succeed!

So tell me, how are your fig trees growing?? What will you do differently in 2014??