We've all heard the expression, "When life hands you lemons ...", and the usual ending refers to making lemonade. Now, that's great if you like that solution and it works for you.
But, what if the lemonade turns out out to be too bitter, or too sweet? What if nobody likes your lemonade? The analogy I'm working with here is, that the way you've always done things might not always work for every problem. Or, the resources you use to produce that tried-and-tested solution might not be up to the task. What to do?
I like to think of the Lemon Problem as having a limitless list of recipes.
Some people end the cliché with, "make Gin and Tonics". You'd need a lot of G&T's to get through an over-abundance of lemons! Maybe, Limoncello? But again, not to everyone's taste.
I started thinking of other options for an oversupply of lemons. Lemon Meringue Pie (mmm 🥧 😋). Lemon curd and lemon butter (again, mmm 🙂🙂). Salad dressing, Carpaccio, pickled anything (lemon juice "cooks" without fire or heat because of it's Citric Acid). Oh, and let's not forget Lovely Luscious Lemon Delight!
Again, I am speaking in analogies. What you do with an oversupply of lemons is limited by your imagination. Your imagination is bolstered by things like experience and research.
But the #1 thing to do with too many lemons? Share!
Imagine the great feast you could have with family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and strangers, if you left your plethora of citrus for them to work their magic on.
It's the same with problems. There's another expression, which you might have heard so often you've thought of it as a cliché too, "A problem shared is a problem halved".
Sure, sometimes you share your problem, and people start their response with, "You know what you should do? (a rhetorical question, because they follow it with...), You should ..." and they give advice.
Their advice may be well-intentioned, and it might even be sound and appropriate, but you resent them telling you what to do. But if it's good advice, it might be a good time to suck it up, wear your grown-up pants, and get on with it.
If the advice is not so good, or you get different advice from different people, it can get awfully confusing. That problem isn't halved; it's doubled or tripled.
In these times, it's good to do a SWOT table, to consider the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats involved in your pieces of advice.
But those well-intentioned advisors are a good reminder to choose your sounding- boards well, and to express your needs at the outset.
If you just want someone to vent to, say so at the start. Say that you have something troubling you, you'll figure it out, but you just need to talk about it out loud to let out some of the emotion. That helps your friend know that they just need to listen (preferably reflective listening, so they let you feel heard and validated, and they'll help you find the answer when you're ready).
If you want someone to give you advice, say at the start that you have a dilemma and you're looking for some advice. Tell them that you might or might not use the advice you get, because you are seeking it from a number of sources with expertise in different areas. That means you get advice, but you're off the hook in having to go ahead with it.
Maybe, you are looking to talk about the problem and you just want small action steps that you can take to get out of the problem's grasp. This is where you talk with a coach, who knows how to manage this scenario well.
A good coach should be trained in reflective listening, in helping you to see a slightly distant outcome, and in allowing you to find those small action steps that will work for you specifically. A good coach will also find out what drives you, what will help to motivate you, and they will provide you with accountability and positive reinforcement.
So, if you are "on the horns of a dilemma", to use another well-known expression, these tools should help you to see a way forward. I'm here if you need a good coach, too!