When Life Hands You Lemons, Say Thank You!

Keith Boyd is an 11 year old boy in Oklahoma. In spite of the fact that Keith was born with Cerebral Palsy, Keith has dreams, ambitions and high hopes for the future.

Refusing to allow his physical limitations to interfere, Keith had a dream to raise funds for the Little Light House, an amazing school that he and many other special needs kids attended.

Keith had a lemonade stand a few years earlier to raise money for a toy he wanted, so he knew how to make it happen. But knowing he wanted this to be much bigger, Keith wrote a business plan for a venture called Keith’s Ice Cold Lemonade Stand, with plans for multiple lemonade stands around the Tulsa, Oklahoma metro area.

With the assistance of local Chick-fil-A owner Arthur Greeno, and Clay Clark, CEO of Thrive 15, a business dedicated to helping entrepreneurs, Keith’s dream became a reality.

Keith was able to raise $120,000 through his lemonade stands, and has had his product line picked up by a local grocery chain! He continues to work through his foundation to raise funds for other special needs kids, and was recently awarded the True Inspiration Award from the national Chick-fil-A Foundation. Not bad for a kid who many might say was dealt a bad hand from life from the day he was born.

How do we handle the lemons that life hands us? Complain? Blame? Retreat? Give up? I’d like to suggest a few different approaches that you and your team could take when your circumstances turn sour:

  • Check For Bugs & Rotten Spots - Tough times show us where our weaknesses are. When buying produce, wise people will pick up the piece of vegetable or fruit, and inspect it closely. It’s crazy to buy something that is rotten or spoiled. It’s the same in our businesses and organizations. Take the time with difficult times come, and inspect your situation. Discard the junk that might have brought you to that point. Get rid of the processes, policies or people that continually drop rotten fruit in your lap.
  • Peel The Skin Off - Tough times show us what our team is really made of. There are times when everything on the outside of a piece of fruit looks great, but once you peel the skin you find a worm or a rotten interior. Gross! But how many times have we failed to look beyond the surface level performance of our team members or the organization, and then found ourselves shocked when something rotten spilled out later when we were forced to dig deeper? Evaluation BEFORE eruption is a much better plan to follow.
  • Get A Bigger Pitcher - Tough times stretch us to our limits. Bar Rescue is one of my favorite shows. John Tapper works with struggling bars to improve their business and their people. They always do a stress test night to see just how staff will respond when hit with a huge crowd, and it nearly always is a dismal failure. He then evaluates their strengths and weaknesses, provides training from experts, and motivates them to be the best version of themselves. We can do that same thing with our teams and with ourselves. Stretch everyone during and after those tough times. If you’re going to serve a lot of lemonade, you’re gonna need a bigger pitcher.
  • Add Sugar & Ice - Tough times highlight areas we can grow in. Lemonade, sugar, water and ice are the primary ingredients of good lemonade. Leave out any one ingredient and you risk having a drink that lacks balance in flavor or refreshment. Don’t believe me? Go suck a lemon, eat a cup of sugar straight out of the bag, or drink from a pitcher of lemonade that has sat in the summer heat for a couple of hours. Get the picture? Revamping your systems, and making sure that the best procedures, people and practices are in place don’t guarantee success, but they certainly diminish your chances of failing miserably.
  • Squeeze A Lemon & You Will Get Lemon Juice - Tough times keep us humble. You’ve most likely heard the old adage, “Pressure brings to the outside what was on the inside.” Robert McKee says, “True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure - the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature." You and your team will ultimately get a much clearer vision of the each other’s character, work ethic and values during times of stress and pressure. Core Values aren’t typically enunciated - they are excavated. To say it another way, just talking about what we say is important to us isn’t nearly as valuable as the lives we lead and the things we do in showing others what we are really about.
  • Today Is The Best Day To Open Your Lemonade Stand - Tough times can motivate us out of complacency. Startups tend to grow much faster than businesses or organizations that have been around a while. Why is that? Shouldn’t the businesses that have pushed past the jitters of starting up, grown beyond the challenges of building a customer base or establishing themselves do better than a bunch of newbies in business? Of course they should. But the older and more experienced an organization gets, the easier it is to become complacent, and to fear taking any new risks or making any gutsy new decisions. This causes them to flatten out in growth and creativity and allow others who are doing those things to pass them. Kick start your organization with the challenges you face from time to time. Grow through them, and allow them to be a motivator to be better, smarter and more successful, regardless of the challenges you encounter.

By the way, Keith is doing great. I was blessed to be able to be a part of his crowd funded project to get his bottled lemonade line up and running! You can go check out his progress for yourself at http://www.keithsicecoldbeverages.com. If you’re in Tulsa, be sure and pick up some of his ice cold lemonade. I’m sure knowing Keith’s story will make it taste even sweeter than any other you’ve ever had!

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