How To Tell The Difference Between Lemons And Turds: Part 1

We’ve all heard the saying, “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.”  But some of the lemons in life can’t be fixed by watering them down and adding sugar.  Let’s face it.  No matter how much sugar you add, a turd is still a turd and it’ll be hard to swallow regardless of how it’s presented.

I know people are going to find this controversial, but there are things in life that suck and there is absolutely nothing that you or I can do about those things except to accept that there isn’t anything we can do about them.  Some of those things might be changeable, but not by us.

That’s good and bad.  It’s bad because those parts of life are really hard.  It’s good because if we are willing to accept that we have no impact in those areas, it lets us save our energy for the things we can change.  And that ultimately makes our lives better.

{Steven Covey calls that concept our circle of influence.  That circle is such a powerful thing that it deserves a full post.  Stay tuned for that in the next couple of weeks.  We’ll also come back to dealing with the things we can’t change.}

For now, let’s talk about lemons and turds.  Seriously.  This is important.  If we’re talking about actual lemons and turds it’s easy to tell one from the other—bright yellow fruit vs. smelly brown poop is a no-brainer.  But the figurative versions aren’t as easy to differentiate and sometimes they both stink.

If you’re treating a problem like a lemon and it’s really a turd, you’re wasting precious energy trying to change something that is out of your control to change.  And if you’re treating a problem like a turd when it’s really a lemon, you’re missing an opportunity to make your life better and more enjoyable.  Life is short and you don’t want to be making either mistake when you can avoid it.

So, how do you tell the difference?

What it really boils down to is this:

  • If your actions can directly result in a change, then the problem is a lemon.
  • If there is absolutely no action you can take that will directly result in a change, then consider the problem a turd.

For example, next month there will be an auction to sell a lot of my father’s stuff.  I walked into his garage (a large, free-standing building) with my mom and looked around.  All of the stuff was there for anyone to see, but what a stranger would never have seen were all the invisible memories that also hung on the walls.

I sat in that chair and talked on that phone to the guy who was my first prom date.  I practiced my jump shot and free throw, shooting thousands of baskets in the hoop hanging over the doors.  I went sledding with friends and family on those sleds.  I spent hours handing those tools to my father as he worked on buses.  He and my brothers taught me to change my own oil, fix a flat, and clean a carburetor with those tools.  That saddle is the one I always used when we rode horses.  Etc., etc.

For a couple weeks it really bothered me that people were going to come put a price on things my father held dear and that housed so many memories.  It felt like his life was going to be auctioned off piece by piece.  It stunk…but it was really just a lemon.

All of that stuff is going to find a new home and will either serve a purpose or create new memories for someone else.  And really, it is just stuff.  The memories are mine and they can’t be auctioned off, so they are safe.  With a slight perspective change, I was able to shift from being upset about it to being happy that my father’s things are going to find new homes with people who will get as much use and enjoyment out of them as he and we once did.

The action of re-framing the experience made a direct difference.  Instead of fretting about it for the last few months, I’ve been able to let go and focus my energy on other things—lemons to lemonade.

Are there things in your life right now that are bothering you?  If there’s something you can do that will directly impact those issues, do it.

But what if there’s nothing you can do?  What if you’re looking at a turd instead of a lemon?  Check back next week and we’ll go over ways to handle those situations.

Until then, be happy and be healthy.


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2 Responses to How To Tell The Difference Between Lemons And Turds: Part 1

  1. Pingback: How To Tell The Difference Between Lemons And Turds: Part 3 |

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