When life gives you lemons... sometimes you have to scrape, zest or stomp them into lemonade. Sometimes they are better off as a garnish. - Susan Finch

lemonade garnishWe’ve all heard the quote when things go unexpectantly bad. Sometimes I buy into it, sometimes I toss it out there in varying forms. But the reality is, sometimes we cannot make lemonade out of every situation. We can get glimpses if we work at it, contort the situation, fantasize or dig deep into the bowels of childhood memories, but we are still dealing with lemons; some of which have VERY thick skin and little juice.

There are times when your lemons need to simply be a garnish – part of an anecdote you will share later to get a groan, a laugh, an empathetic half smile from an audience. Something someone else can learn from – at your expense – but that is your gift to them.

In business:

Dwelling in the pile of juice-less lemons is counter-productive. It’s best to find the quickest way to the exit out of the mire. What I’ve learned from dealing with undesirable professionals and uncomfortable professional situations is that when I can turn my attitude into a place of compassion by looking at it from their side and assuming there are hidden details affecting their attitude and actions, it’s easier to move through it without a heavy feeling of resentment, anger. Knowing, too, that it is not an option to seek retaliation – EVER – tends to move people to other more positive attitude options faster.

A high percentage of these situations are due to poor or unclear communication, and then unmet expectations. Sometimes they are caused because we didn’t turn down the project or lead in the first place when our gut started to tug at us – warning – “This could get bad…. walk away now… just say no….”

And, sometimes people are just weasels. It’s nothing personal – it truly isn’t about you; it’s who they are due to previous experiences. Sometimes it’s due to fear of being found out at as someone who doesn’t know everything. Cornered people react irrationally, cruelly, unprofessionally and all of those other nasty ways. Knowing it’s not personal allows us to take the step back and remove our own emotions from the equation.


On the personal side:

As for sad situations of loss – that’s tough. Lemonade is easy to make, but sometimes hard to swallow. “They are in a better place..” “They had a full life…” “At least they are not suffering…” Blah, blah, blah. Loss STINKS. They will be missed. It is sad for those left behind. Happy memories and those empty consolations do not lessen the sadness or loss, but they may put wider stretches between the bouts of sadness.