It’s not really lemonade season at the moment, but Seth Godin has a nice little parable on his blog about business and joy as told through the classic child’s first business. One is a garden variety lemonade stand, with the usual reconstituted beverage served for just a dollar in a Dixie cup. The other is run by a little girl making lemonade from scratch for the love of it, offering it for free but leaving a jar for tips. As he describes this second stand,
The whole time that’s she’s squeezing, she’s also talking to you, sharing her insights (and yes, her joy) about the power of lemonade to change your day. It’s a beautiful day and she’s in no real hurry. Lemonade doesn’t hurry, she says. It gets made the right way or not at all. Then she urges you to take a bit less sugar, because it tastes better that way.
Finally, once she’s done, you put $5 in the jar, because your free lemonade was worth at least twice that. Well, maybe the lemonade itself was worth $3, but you’d happily pay again for the transaction. It touched you. In fact, it changed you.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the transformative power of joy — the way a single moment of delight can shift the course of your mood and your day. A joyful moment can have ripple effects, in the way you treat other people, the things you notice in your environment, the paths you choose to take, the interactions you have with objects and people. Joy can transform space — making it feel more open or more intimate — and it can transform time, shrinking so that your delight spills over its boundaries.
The idea that lemonade could change you sounds silly at first. But in this case lemonade is a conduit for the sharing of joy. It is a craftsperson’s joy distilled into an aesthetic experience for a consumer — to experience, and to pass on.