Sunday, June 18, 2006

Lemonade from Lemon

"If life deliverers a lemon, make lemonade out of it."

Following two stories illustrate best lemonade made from some of the bitterest lemons life delivered to some people.

Both of these are found in Dale Carnegie's timeless classic "Stop worrying and start living".

In Arabic there is a term that is often used. That is - "Maktoob" meaning "(It is) written". If an Arab loses a big bet in a casino, this is what he exclaims raising both hands to sky. It is used to mean - "it is all God's will". People tend to mistake this for fatalistic mentality. But, people who use it, use it differently and most effectively.

What is the first thing necessary to recover from a setback? Recognizing that some screw up has happened is indeed the first thing towards recovery. Without that realization, we are in denial about the mishap. This realization is not all easy to come because what has happened defies all rational thinking (or what we call rational thinking at that moment even if it is utterly irrational). So, saying 'Maktoob' or "it was all God's will" helps us to transfer all the responsibility to God and take some solace that since it was God's will, it must be for eventual good.

Once we calm down after saying 'Maktoob', we can set out to take some remedial measures. Dale Carnegie quotes an incident related to nomadic Arabs wandering god forsaken desert in northern Africa with their one and only asset - sheep. Once the caravan was caught in a severe sand storm. Most of the sheep were dead when the sand storm subsided. Arabs were sad for a moment that they had lost good 80% of their assets. The leader exclaimed famous 'Maktoob' and the rest knew what to do. They systematically slaughtered the sheep which had not yet deteriorated. They smoked and processed the meat so that they can use it in the future. After that they moved on with their nomadic journey. This is one case making lemonade if life deliverers you a lemon.

Second incident, again from Carnegie's "Stop worrying and star living", involves a man in Florida.

Do you know there is a place called Rattlesnake in Florida. Follow this link to see for yourself -

There is a amazing story behind how this place came to be called as Rattlesnake. Long ago, a man bought some land around this area. He had some plans for this land. But, it was infested with rattle snakes and only rattle snakes. This man was perplexed. He had purchased the land with some idea in mind. He had not noticed rattle snake menace and now he was in this predicament. Land was useless. He hit upon an idea. Why not make lemonade from the lemon? There were abundant rattle snakes. Put them to good use. He developed a complete industry around rattle snakes. He farmed them to extract venom for vaccines. He started a meat processing plant to package rattle snake meat (yikes) and what not. Over time, he became famous, rich and an example for all those who got lemons and made lemonades out of it. This man did not get any ordinary lemon. He got bitterest lemon and made lemonade out of it.

So, always remember to say 'Maktoob' and set out to squeeze that damn lemon. Lemonade shall be made. That's God's will.


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