When do you know if a lemon will make it?

When do you know if you’ll make it? What does that even mean? Taking lessons from observing lemons, a few things jumped to mind.

8 potentials, 2 survived so far, 1 definitely looking like it will make it. What made me state that? Lots have been said about lemons and life – but my line of thinking went down another path.

My acknowledgement of the one that would definitely make it was probably based on a mix of past observations, its features and size, and – who knows – my mood at that moment, sitting on the front doorsteps observing my lemon tree with sun and blue sky above.

When it comes to humans, how do we know if someone or we ourselves will “make it”? In a particular role, in health, in relationships etc.

What does it even mean to “make it”? For the lemon on my tree, it means surviving. Growing for one more day. One more week. One more month. One step at a time, making it to that next phase.

Growing long enough to mature, growing to the expected size, going from green to yellow eventually, manage to escape birds, pests and other threats…. To then eventually be eaten by our family in a nice meal – or maybe end as a delicious slice in a gin and tonic (is that a sad ending for a lemon I wonder??).

For us humans, “making it” can be feeling comfortable. That we’ve got the hang of something. That we’ve got routines or behaviours leading to a certain, consistent outcome in certain areas of life, for example. That we can breathe, looking back for a moment with a sense of content and satisfaction.

And for lemons as well as humans, it wasn’t just about the lemon’s own growth – it was as much the judgment of the external world, in this case, me offering an opinion. My guess is, most of our experience of “making it” is based on external evaluation.

The same often applies to our teams and businesses.

It depends on the evaluation by the observer (shareholders, owners, leaders, teams) – and what may be a great result for one, may not cut it for another. One industry may expect different rates and returns than others. The values guiding the vision will, combined with the tangible results, tell you if you’re on track – when both have been clearly defined. But would everyone in the team feel they had “made it” even if those boxes had been ticked?

When do you know if you’ll make it? When you know what the next milestone looks like. Clear and specific like that. One milestone at a time. Your milestone, not someone else’s. The lemon goes from green to yellow.

Lemons can turn into sour juice that makes your face detract into a grimacing, they can heighten a drink, they can please your sweet tooth in a lemon tart – or they can please your eye and nose, just hanging there on the tree.

I’ll literally leave it hanging, too – did the lemon make it? Only the lemon will know.