Turning Lemons into Lemonade: How this applies to personal and business challenges

Some of the best learning experiences in life often happen as a result of rejection or failure, which hit on some of our limitations personally and professionally. Luckily you don’t have to remain stuck in a rejection state of mind.

A few years ago, for the first time in many years, I decided to donate blood for no other reason than good karma. My first experience was in high school. It was a huge mental commitment but I sacrificed to do something good at the expense of my own comfort. I overcame the first time fear of what seemed to be one of the larger needles I’ve ever had stuck into me. My classmates and I supported each other believing it would make us better people and the result was a feeling of accomplishment, bonding, and service to our community.

The next time I had a chance to donate was during military basic training. We were not required but rewarded with some extra time off and recognition of our good deed. It was a good feeling and much easier to do the second time around. While donating blood was never a regular thing for me, I would raise my hand in times of crisis and take that step forward when called upon. It felt good to know I could make a positive difference with nothing more than cells from my body. It was a two-way street I hoped I never had to travel down in reverse, I considered myself on the lucky side to be the giver.

I recently saw a poster for the bloodmobile where I work and made a note to go the following day. I was looking forward to giving. I headed over, climbed in the air conditioned bus and filled out my forms. There were a lot more questions than I remembered previously, including some that zeroed in on specific time frames and geography about living in Europe. Yes, I checked that I proudly served in the military a couple years each in Germany and Italy during that time. To my utter surprise I was informed I was disqualified from donating blood that day, or ever. My heart sank. Imagine the sight and sound of the red “X” and buzzer flashing up on the screen of a TV game show when you are sure the answer is a slam-dunk and it isn’t even on the board.

Walking away with the thanks of the blood draw team for my good intentions was like winning the booby prize. The mixed feelings I had were rejection and loss. I was the same person, and suddenly I was being rejected for being less than what I was.

In business development I deal with rejection almost every day so I had some thoughts that helped me deal with this.

What valuable learning lesson did I take away from this experience?

I see that it’s impossible to be everything to everyone; sooner or later you are going to face rejection or failure but you cannot and must not take it personally. Eventually you will bump up against your limitations in the workplace—your proposals or ideas shot down; failed projects, frustration with a manager, difficulties in communication or co-worker relationships—these are normal for everyone. In that struggle it is up to you to consider all the other ways you are positively making a difference. Your attitude makes a huge difference!

My job at the colleges allows me to provide amazing resources and public service to organizations to up-skill their workforce, bridge gaps, and empower their workforce to achieve its potential. Invista operates on some excellent core values: Integrity, Professionalism, Service Excellence, Compassion, Growth, and Unity.

Though I couldn’t give blood, I will continue promoting those values in my professional and personal life through my paid and volunteer work in the community. Just because I can’t do what I’ve done before, I do other things that are equally as important. In the face of my limitations, I know I still make a huge difference and so do you.

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