Dottie (my wife) and I have just returned from a trip to California, highlighted by spending several days with Don and Susan Couch. (Don was my college roommate.) One of his hobbies is home winemaking—easy to understand since he lives near 10,000 or so wineries.
Instead of buying an expensive home wine-making kit, he decided to muster his own kit, only buying what he really needed. Impressed and interested, I asked how he got started and he replied, “I bought a garbage can.” Yes, a garbage can, followed by what looked like a Crystal Springs 5-gallon water bottle, then a small oak container, wine bottles, and so on. He spent about $300 and yielded several dozen bottles of wine, one of which I sampled. I don’t know if his wine would win any awards, but it tasted fine to me.
Now, like me, you may be thinking, “A garbage can? Can you make decent wine using a garbage can?” The answer is yes. Why? Because the first stage of wine making is called primary fermentation and it doesn’t much matter what kind of container you use as long as it is clean. The type of container used for primary fermentation wouldn’t make a list of the 20 most important things about wine making. Grapes, water, temperature, yeast, etc., are all much more important than the container you first dump them in to get fermentation started. So why spend hundreds on a container when $10-15 will do just as well?
There is a great lesson in this for businesses, churches, or organizations of any kind. Spend your money on what will really make a difference in the outcome. The next time you are tempted to spend time, money or energy on something, ask yourself, “Am I doing this because it will look good and feed my ego, or will it really make a difference in results?” If you aren’t sure, then try the garbage can first. You can always spend the big bucks later if you need to.
© Copyright 2011 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
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