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Now. About those lemons…

by Joan Marques

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Published on this site: January 2004 - See more articles from this month

You may have been encouraged too to make lemonade from the lemons life throws at you. And you may have thought of it as a pretty encouraging statement as well. But have you ever wondered whether it’s life that throws us those lemons or whether we’re doing that to ourselves?

There are some times in everyone’s life when things just don’t seem to fall into place: loved ones decide to go their own way, business opportunities play hide and seek, and health is giving a colorful scale of reasons for concern.

The following may initially seem a little farfetched, but it actually isn’t:

Couldn’t it –in many cases- be traced back to the choices we once made?

After all, it depends on those choices, and how we treat the constituents involved in them, what subsequently happens to us.

And, if it all boils back to our own choices, are we not the ones that planted the lemon tree in the first place, watered it with our actions afterwards, and therefore self-handedly created the climate for the lemons that are now thrown at us?

Of course we will still need to obtain the skills to make lemonade of those lemons, but fact of the matter is now that we have established a small change of perception: most things are not spontaneously being done to us; we originate them ourselves. Gone is therefore our passive, victimized attitude, only to be replaced by a proactive, creative paradigm.

It also remains a fact that we often cannot foresee the effects of the choices we make. Business people know it all too well: they just go for the best alternatives given the limited information they have, and then work like crazy to make the outcome of their choice a successful one.

Before adjourning, here are some hints to consider when you get hit by one of those infamous lemons again:

  1. Try to detect the roots of this lemon. How did this all start? What choice did you make that brought this on your path? Does it still make sense to consider the alternatives that were initially available, or are you so deep in this issue that you can only try to make the best of it now? If this is the case, making lemonade is essential.

  2. Try to find out whether it was really the choice you initially made that
    created this lemon, or whether there is one insincere player who came aboard along the line, and who sours up the sweetness of the entire process, thereby creating the headache you are now confronted with? In those cases a simple replacement can do miracles, and lemonade production is unnecessary.

  3. Make sure the lemon is really a lemon and not just a small, sweet orange.
    Remember that some ultimately pleasant events can disguise themselves in an initial coat of disaster. If you manage to detect the sweet core of this seeming lemon early on, lemonade is not only unnecessary, but you’ll be able to enjoy a delicious orange while patting yourself on the shoulder for your alertness.

Applying these simple reflections may enable you to come up with a better combination of ingredients when preparing your lemonade. As mentioned above:
in some cases you may find that the lemonade is not even necessary. Or at least you can find that by producing the right lemonade, you can cure this problem for once and for all. And then it’s up to the next adventure!

Joan Marques, holds an MBA, is a doctoral candidate in Organizational Leadership, and a university instructor in Business and Management in Burbank, California. You may visit her web site at www.joanmarques.com Joan's manual "Feel Good About Yourself," a six part series to get you over the bumps in life and onto success, can be purchased and downloaded at:

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