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When Life Hands You A Lemon

Bad situations are inevitable and a part of life. I think if we have learned anything over the past six months, is that even the most well thought out plan, can hit a snag whether through a mistake of our own or team's doing or though an environment change that is out of our control. Oftentimes when this happens, it kicks us off our feet and we feel that we do not have control. However; the opposite is actually the case. Whether you have made a mistake or facing what feels like a mountain in front of you, it's our actions that will determine the outcome whether negative or positive. John Maxwell refers to this as The Law of Pain in his book, "The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth". 

Ever hear the saying, " They took lemons and made lemonade"? Let's break this down. 

Picture a fork in the road, you have the opportunity to select two different paths. One path is to throw the towel in and go down the path of pity me. We will name this road, Pity Me. The second road provides the opportunity to reassess, reset, and grow. We will name this road, Growth At this point in the travel, the responsibility is on you to select your path. Which road will you take?

The road, Pity Me, may seem easier at first. You had a plan that you had set out for. It was a good plan, but is now not working. There are several areas that you can wallow in. Do any of these statements sound familiar: 

  • I am going to stubbornly stick to my original plan because that is what I had planned

  • Why Me?

  • Complain to everyone around you about the problem

  • Give up 

  • Become angry with your team 

  • Blame Others 

None of these are productive or conducive to growth. The end result will not change and the situation will still be there at the end of the day. 

Now let's venture over to Growth Road. The Road of Growth provides an opportunity for several paths: 

  • You can assess the mistake or bad situation

  • Choose to have a positive attitude

  • Choose to learn from the experience

  • Take responsibility for yourself and the experience 

  • Adapt to the situation and revise your strategy 

When you choose to take the Road of Growth, you open yourself to the paths above. What you will find is a new destination that, while initially provided immediate pain and discomfort, will set you up for growth and success in the future. As Warren G. Lester writes, " Success in life comes not from holding a good hand, but in playing a poor hand well". 

The next time you sit at the intersection and need to make the decision of what path to take, remember to take Growth Road. It will be painful at first, but much more rewarding in the end. As John McDonnell stated, " Every problem introduces a person to himself". 

Kendra Clark Leadership Strategies is a global agency located in Stockton, CA focusing on executive coaching and leadership, business and marketing strategy consulting with a focus on sports and entertainment, hospitality, tourism and non profit organizations.    As a member of the John Maxwell Team, Kendra helps organizations and executives overcome any hurdles they may be facing through purposeful leadership and strategy. To learn more about our services, please email [email protected] or visit