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Celebrating 10 Years of Doing Good & Doing Well!

Turning Lemons Into Lemonade

Turning Lemons Into Lemonade

Owning and operating a residential assisted living business can be challenging, especially during a pandemic that impacts the elderly. 

Entrepreneurship brings with it a host of highs, nestled between moments of struggle, grief and sometimes strife.  

Americans have come to signify the difficult moments in life as lemons, which are bitterly acidic, but filled with tremendous benefits if converted into a liquid.  

Therefore, we say, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” 

Reliance upon knowledge and experience of others who share the secrets they’ve learned over the years makes the paths easier.  

A lesson learned is more palatable than a lesson earned; yet, either way the lesson will be learned, but learning on your own can be packed with far more costly mistakes. 

In the residential assisted living industry, trying to figure out all the business components on your own can be costly, time consuming and frustrating. 

What RAL owners and operators need to be successful is support, guidance, effective planning and an attitude of flexibility. Without these, life can become unbearably difficult and can dissuade a person from continuing on.


Since life’s lemons are often unavoidable, learn how to prepare them. Learning how to make tonics as well as refreshments with lemons just makes life easier.  

  • The Necessities

Do what needs to be done regardless.  Remember your basic needs and how to survive. 

  • Intense Focus

Lemons can be distractions.  Refrain from chasing unnecessary circumstances. Stay focused.

  • Remember the Goal

Set milestones along the way but do not lose sight of the finish line.  Remember the end product.

This is the business recipe for the lemonade of life. The comical part of this end-product is that you needn’t purchase the raw goods – life provides them for free. Here’s how. 


1.     Attune Your Mind

Your mindset impacts your ability to succeed. When negative things happen, you must first take notice of how you react. 

a)    How are you interpreting the event? 

b)    What story are you telling yourself about what happened?

These are subjective thoughts, not objective facts. You can alter your mindset to a more positive direction, but only if you are first able to recognize your natural reactions to negative events.

2.     Consider The Lessons Of Lemons

You can start to see negative experiences in a more positive light if you frame them as lessons for the future.

a)    Why did things turn out this way?

b)    What could you do differently? 

c)     What can you take from this event to apply to future situations? 

By altering the way in which you process lemons,  you are being constructive. The point is not to dwell on mistakes and shortcomings, which are both destructive behaviors.

Instead, think about how you can avoid them in the future and become a stronger, wiser person. 

3.     Focus On The Positive

The old saying says, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” and this is true.  The negatives, that is the lemons, cause a lot of noise.  

Lemon demands attention, however, there are positives all around you. Revel in them. 

One might even find new and invigorating passions, explore and develop hobbies, connect with others, and dive into what you love. 

Grateful journals help business owners reflect upon the things in life that they’re most thankful for and humbled to have.  

This tends to really help the owner see the positives.

4.     Operate In Community

When things don’t go right, you can always find comfort in those who love and care about you. 

Make sure to surround yourself with your happiest, most optimistic support team. 

We often mirror what we see and experience, so you will likely see their optimism bouncing back to you.

5.     Drink Lemonade

Psychological research shows that if you approach negative events with strategies, you can develop hardiness, which will make you even more resilient in the future. 

This hardiness enhances performance, leadership, and mood by giving people the courage and capability to turn adversity to advantage. 

Lemons are unavoidable, but lemonade is so enjoyable.


The explanatory style is the way in which a person tends to explain situations introspectively. People will either use a negative spin or a positive one.

Since circumstances are really emotionally neutral in their own right, it is our choice to control how we perceive circumstances.

So, in all honesty, the choice is yours.

Take a look at the 6 self-examination statements below to discover which seems more like the style that you use to interpret situations in your life?

Self-Examination For Pessimists

1.     I rarely count on good things happening to me.

2.     If something can go wrong for me, it will.

3.     I hardly ever expect things to go my way.

Self-Examination For Optimist

4.     In uncertain times, I usually expect the best.

5.     I’m always hopeful about my future.

6.     Overall, I expect more good things to happen to me than bad.

If you often use statements like those in the first set, you are more likely to have a negative explanatory style, making you a pessimist. 

If your mottos more closely resemble statements from the second set, you’re likely to have a positive explanatory style, and think more like an optimist. 

Having a positive explanatory style generally leads to greater happiness and success. 

The good news is that thinking more optimistically is something that you can learn to do.


In his book, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life Dr. Seligman describes key differences between pessimists and optimists:

Key Traits of a Pessimists

  • Pessimists tend to believe that the bad events that happen to them are permanent, not transitory. 
  • They often feel that the negativity from such events will forever affect their lives. This leads to a sense of helplessness regarding their ability to better their situation. 
  • Pessimists attribute success to specific events and unusual circumstances and expect failure as the norm.
  • They experience low self-esteem in the face of adversity or setbacks. They blame themselves and feel worthless or talentless. 

Key Traits of Optimists

  • Optimists, on the other hand, view setbacks as temporary. 
  • They are therefore more resilient and bounce back from adversity, rather than letting it sideline them.
  • They view success as an expected outcome, due to their overall competence or abilities.
  • Optimists don’t allow unfortunate circumstances to alter their overall positive view of themselves and their capabilities. 
  • They can more easily separate their self-worth from the outcome of a particular situation.

Optimism is a learned thought process. It validates the possibility that you can change your life for the better through your own effort and will. 

Learned optimism is empowering and self-motivating, most importantly, it is a choice. 

Try the technique below to learn to be more optimistic about your life and your business. 


a)    Adversity

When we experience setbacks or adversity, we react by thinking about it. Our thoughts are processed according to our beliefs.

b)    Beliefs

Belief defines those things that lead to success or consequences.

c)    Consequences

Consequences are usually negative results that spiral from thinking pessimistically with negative expectations. 

d)    Disputation 

Disputation is when we can mentally challenge our pessimistic beliefs and look for evidence to dispute them. 

e)    Energization 

Energization is the motivation needed after we’ve disputed our false, negative beliefs.

According to Seligman, the key to dealing with setbacks is learning how to dispute those initial, automatic, negative thoughts. There are two ways to do this. 

  1. Distract yourself when the automatic, negative thoughts occur – force yourself to think of something else. 
  2. Dispute these negative thoughts and beliefs.  Do not automatically accept them as truth.


Unfortunately, negative thoughts are more common than positive ones.  For most people, negative thoughts are a factory default setting.

Therefore, all people have issues and need help maximizing their success. 

Gene Guarino, founder and owner or Residential Assisted Living Academy is helping students resolve their issues by turning lemons into lemonade. 

The only question that remains is: do you have the RAL recipe for lemonade?

The goal of owning and operating a residential assisted living home allows you to do good and do well.  

It’s a business model built around the idea of optimism. 

However, like any other viable business, owning and operating a residential assisted living home comes with its own bag of lemons.

Visit and learn how to get the optimist help you need to start your own residential assisted living business.  

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