For the past several days there have been two girls selling lemon at the top of the street where I live. they have colorful signs and decorations, and from 500 yards away one can see them energetically bouncing around for attention and the hope of making a sale.
Tonight as I came home from work, a group of about 5 boys of the same age as the girls walked passed, taunting and poking fun at the girl’s efforts. I saw their interaction from afar, and only learned the details as I got closer and pulled up to my mailbox. That’s when the girls approached me, not to make a sale, but to say how the young boys had hurt their feelings. The boys called the girls “the Wall-Mart of lemonade stands,” and said that the girls were “Republicans.”
OK, so it’s a pretty liberal neighborhood when the latter statement is intended as an epithet. In response to the girl’s complaint, I asked if the boys had hurt their feelings, or if the girls had let the boys hurt their feelings.
“But I don’t shop at Wall-Mart!” one exclaimed.
“If they say you are the Wall-Mart of lemonade, what does that really mean?”
After a brief pause, the girl admitted “I don’t know,” with a hint of confusion in her voice.
I told her that “Wall-Mart started out small and became hugely successful because they always focused on delivering value to their customers. So if you really are the Wall-Mart of lemonade, you’ve got the makings of a very successful young business lady.”
“Oh!” She said, with both surprise and a smile on her face.
Because I still had her attention, I continued. “So then whether something is an insult or a compliment really depends on the story we tell our self about what it means.” She had a pensive look on her face, and I wondered if what I just told her made any sense at her young age.
“Then I should tell myself a good story,” she said, followed by offering me a free lemonade.
So did she really understand? In the story I tell myself she did! But as adults, what are the stories we tell ourselves on a regular basis? Do we see and interpret our environment with stories that bring us life, energy, enthusiasm, and foster a sense of potential? Or have we matured, grown wise and become more cynical (which we tell ourselves is “realistic”) about what is actually possible today?
We all have our stories, and we all have good reasons for believing them, based on our life experience. Yet how often do we really evaluate if these stories are even true? Yes, of course, they are true for us now, but the beauty of possibility is that as adults we can also start telling ourselves new stories. We have the ability to consciously choose to create a new reality simply by noticing the stories we tell our self, and making a choice about whether those stories really protect us, or if they restrict us in our lives. And if our stories restrict us, then for goodness sakes, tell a new story! Make it a good one — full of life, power, passion, potential, and all that is possible.
Oh, and the lemonade was delicious.