What To Do When Life Gives You Lemons

When life gives you lemons: make lemonade.

​You’ve heard it before and you know what to do. It’s a familiar saying that we often quote to a friend or family member that’s going through a rough time. But can it really be that easy? I find that very few people actually do it. Very few people actually take a bad situation and turn it into something good.

Making lemonade is more than just taking the crap that life can bring and saying, “Well, look at the bright side, it could be worse!” And it’s more than just gutting it out and putting a smile on your face when on the inside, your gut is literally wrenching because of the pain and suffering that you are enduring. Making lemonade actually takes a recipe. It requires doing hard things that most people are unwilling to do. 

When you opened your first lemonade stand (and I’m assuming that you HAVE actually sold lemonade at a lemonade stand…tell me I’m not the only one here?!?), you probably followed the recipe on the Country Time Lemonade container and taste tested it to make sure that it was good. You might have done some trial and error, but before you trotted out your featured product that was the cornerstone of your lemonade stand business, you made sure it was good!


Country Time Lemonade has made a good business of taking a 3-ingredient recipe and simplifying it by making it only a 2-ingredient recipe! (Kudos…Country Time…Kudos!! But there is something to be said for simplicity and Country Time is testimony to the fact that people love simplicity.) The basic recipe of lemonade is: lemons, sugar and water. If we only include 2 of those ingredients, the recipe falls short and probably doesn’t sell well.

Water and lemons – too sour. 

Water and sugar – too sweet. 

Even lemons and sugar – hard to drink! 

So what is this recipe for life and business? More than just “rolling with the punches” (Get it…punch…lemonade…never mind), making lemonade starts with attitude. When life drops a lemon in your lap, you can say, “Well, here we go again!” and bristle at the idea of another difficulty in your life or career. 

​OR you can be curious about the lemon. Hmm…I wonder why this happened? What am I supposed to learn from this? How could this lemon be used in a way that I haven’t thought about previously? Curiosity should lead to creativity. When we stay open and curious about life, it can lead to some creative solutions and innovation. 

Another lesson here is that the “lemons” that life gives us appear to be hurdles and obstacles. But it is through adversity that character is born. It is through perseverance that we build strength. Your mindset matters. A tough and resilient mindset coupled with the will to go forward and do something and take calculated action will lead you to places you previously thought were unattainable. 

​At the end of the day, in business, we make our own luck. It’s amazing that those that work the hardest seem to have “all the luck”. Everybody gets lemons in life. The difference shows up in the minority that take those lemons and put the sweat equity in to mix those lemons up and make a solution that people will buy! Some of the people that have had the greatest successes in life are those who have fallen the hardest and endured the greatest failures.

The difference between obstacles and opportunities, trials and triumph, liability and luck is in how we respond to what life brings. We get to choose our own adventure! (Man, I loved those books as a kid.) You know that bad things WILL happen in business. Why not prepare for them? Why not come up with solutions that haven’t been thought of before? Or why not take a good solution and make it better? 

In my book, the recipe for success is curiosity, creativity, and calculation coupled with the right mindset. So, how have you made some lemonade in business using some of these principles? What successes have you experienced by learning from the past and staying open to a different future? I’d love to hear from you and see if we can all make a little more lemonade in 2020 than we did last year!




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