When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Things don’t always go as planned.  It’s not whether or not things go wrong, it’s how you deal with them when they do that matters.  Jim Collin’s, in his best selling book Great by Choice, talks about return on luck.  His research shows that most companies (and people) get similar amounts of both good luck and bad luck, the difference between high and low achievers is how the good and bad luck events are dealt with.  High achievers take advantage of good luck and make the most of the bad luck.  The low achievers squander the good luck and are consumed by the bad luck.

This summer, Kathy and I spent a few days at a posh resort on the beach in Rhode Island with my oldest daughter and my parents.  When we checked in, we left our car with the valet.  The second day we were there, we went to retrieve our car to go on an excursion.  After a considerable delay, the valet came to us and sheepishly asked us if we had the keys to our car.  I said no.  He went on to tell us that they can’t find our keys, but they are still looking.  At this point I wasn’t too concerned, they would turn up.  My daughter had a car there also so we took hers on our excursion, they would find them by the time we returned.  Or so I thought.

The keys were never found.  This created a dilemma; a car with no keys and plans to return home in two days.  This isn’t a story over the lost keys, it is about how the situation was dealt with.

First, I could have been a jerk since they lost my keys.  Second, with no good options, the hotel could have tried to shy away from any responsibility and wish the problem to go away.  Neither was going to solve the problem or make the best of a bad situation.

Cut to the chase.  I had a neighbor overnight me the spare set of keys from home – major problem solved.  The hotel showed us considerable attention, empathy, and apology.  They gave us a generous discount on our stay (not enough to hurt their margins, but enough to show they cared) and told us they would reimburse us for all costs associated with getting the key replaced and the overnight shipping.  In our room on the next to last night, there was a box of chocolates and a hand written note from the valet manager apologizing again for the mishap.

Nothing they could do would bring our key back, but their caring, attention, and actions caused us to leave them in high regard.

It’s not whether or not bad things happen, it is how you respond to them that makes all the difference.

When life gives you lemons…