Effort and Belief – It Takes Two

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is starting off well.

I’ve been reading a new book, The Miracle Equation by Hal Elrod. If you’re into motivational books, I highly recommend this one. If you’re not, I highly recommend you give it a try. There’s none of the mystery or romance in a typical novel. Just a couple-hundred pages of info on how each and every one of us can make our lives better. You know – boring stuff.

That’s what you would think by the way some people react. “How can you read that stuff?” My response to that is, “How can you not?” We’ll read a recipe book. We’ll read an instruction manual on how to fix a car. For some people, romance novels are a “how-to” for their love life (or what they wish it could be). But we won’t read a few pages about how to achieve success in life.  Seriously?

What I like about this book is that it takes a detour from the beaten path and suggests a concept many of the others tend to leave out. While some authors put all their emphasis on self-confidence and focusing on a dream, this book suggests that believing in yourself (unwavering faith) is only half the equation – you may have to actually work for it.

The two, faith and effort, go hand-in-hand. Have you ever set out on a trip with no confidence you’d reach your destination? Okay, I’ve owned a few cars that made me say an extra prayer, but you get the point. If we had no faith in our ability to safely reach a destination, we’d never leave the house.

But, sitting around the house staring at pictures of the beach won’t make it materialize in your front yard. If you want to smell the salt air and feel the warmth of the sun, you have to put down the travel brochure and do something about it. You may even have to drive. A lot. And with each mile that passes, the closer you get to your destination, the more real it begins to feel. And the more real it begins to feel, the more determined you are to get there.

I talk a lot in my posts about dreams as the basis for action. I talk about how we’re all wired for success and are naturally driven to it. I talk about believing in yourself enough to know that you can accomplish anything. But something I don’t talk about much is the effort that makes it all happen. I guess I don’t like talking about work any more than most other people.

But work is an important part of the equation. In the popular children’s book, a little train engine sat there repeating “I think I can, I think I can!” But until it put forth the effort to start moving, nothing happened. It was the combination of faith and effort that made the little train move. We’re no different. We can sit there and think about it all day. But at some point, we have to take action.

In the past, I’ve quoted Napoleon Hill who once said, “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” I love those words, because they simply say if we can dream something up and have faith in our ability to achieve it, nothing can stop us from doing it. But it leaves out one very important part – we have to do the necessary work to make it happen.

And that begins with having a plan, knowing what to do and how to get the most from all that effort. A couple of days ago, a pickup truck next to me sat at a traffic light spinning its tires so fast they were smoking. There was a lot of “think I can” going on there, a lot of exuberance on the part of the driver, and a lot of effort (gas) being expended. But the truck wasn’t going anywhere.

We sometimes do the same in the excitement of starting on a new goal. The light turns green and we mash the pedal to the floor. As we’re sitting there burning through all our energy, the rest of the world calmly moves ahead. It doesn’t take long for us to realize we’re not going anywhere, so we back off the gas and try a different approach. Hopefully we still have some energy left.

On the other hand, too much planning can be paralyzing. It’s one thing to think about what you need to do. It’s another thing to just sit there and keep thinking about it. At some point, you have to take a leap of faith and get started.  You’ll know in an instant if you’re moving forward or spinning your wheels.

Belief makes things possible, but effort makes things happen. Believe in yourself enough to do the work, and work hard enough to justify your belief. Then do both for as long as it takes. The reward is worth it. And so are you.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If Time is What You Need, Make Some!

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

I remember telling you folks a while back that my weight loss journey was finally headed in the right direction. I remember telling you how good I felt and that I knew I’d eventually get to my goal. I remember telling you all of that. And, I remember telling you a couple of times over the past two years about how I’d fallen off the wagon and was headed back the wrong way. It happens.

Erma Bombeck once said, “In two decades, I’ve lost a total of 789 pounds. I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.” I think I may have her beat on that one. Lose five, gain five. Lose ten, gain ten. At least I’ve never gone above my starting point. You know, if “starting point” means the most I’ve ever weighed in my life. I guess we could all claim that little victory.

So, here I go, back on that journey. It’s an exercise in futility, probably because that’s the only real exercise I get these days. There are just too many things going on during the day to carve out time for that. Funny, I can always carve out time for meals. Think they’d give me any dirty looks if I ate dinner on the treadmill?

No matter what we need to do, it seems we never can find the time. We’re just too busy. Between work, running a household, soccer games, grocery shopping, oil changes, bowling, and TV, who has time for anything else? I’m getting tired just thinking about it. And I only do a few of those things.

That’s not entirely true. I tend to stay pretty busy. But I’m learning that, while being busy may look great on paper, it doesn’t mean I’m actually getting the right things done. It’s easy to get sidetracked, doing something else that “needs to be done” but doesn’t get me any closer to where I really wanted to be. It’s just filler.

I hear the same thing from a lot of other people. Whether it’s going back to school, learning a new skill on the job, or opening a business of their own, nobody seems to have the time. So, let’s get real. All that means is “I don’t have time for that. I find time for all the other things that occupy my day, but that one just isn’t high enough on my list of priorities. Other things are more important.”

And that’s okay. We all have 168 hours each week and a certain amount of time on this earth. To the degree that you can, you should spend that time any way you want. But ask yourself this important question – at the end of your life, when you’re looking back at all those things you never got around to, will you take comfort in the number of times you watched reruns of your favorite show?

In your annual review at work, has the boss ever mentioned how many emails you’ve read? Have they ever acknowledged the number of times you thumbed through the notes from last week’s meeting, or marveled at the hours you spent planning your next project? Probably not. They tend to focus on the important stuff – you know, results. Bosses are pesky that way.

So, ask yourself another important question. If you were paying somebody else to achieve your personal goals, to do the work for you while you handle all the other “important” things that occupy your time, what excuses would you accept from them? If they continually offered up the same reasons you do for the things that aren’t getting done, would they still have a job?

Having time is as simple as deciding how we use our time. It’s all about priorities. At the end of the day, we can lament all the things we didn’t get done, but the truth is we did the things that were most important to us at the moment. If none of those things brought us any closer to our goals, it’s not because we’re too busy – we’re just too busy doing the wrong things.

If there’s something you really want to do, you’ll find time. You’ll get up a little earlier, go to bed a little later, work through lunch, combine errands, delegate, or simply eliminate some of those things you don’t really need to do. But if it’s important enough, you’ll find a way. It’s not a matter of finding more time each week – it’s simply a matter of deciding what’s more important.

We all have to carve out time to enjoy some of life’s pleasures. And if that’s your number one priority in life, then by all means, do it. But if there are other things equally important, things you’ll look back on one day and wish you’d done, then make the time. Do what’s important today. That other stuff can wait.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Make Every Day Your Special Day

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

It’s Monday, and you know what that means. A whole new week to get out there and get closer to your dreams! What? Did you really think I was going to remind you that it’s a new week at work? You already knew that. And just in case you didn’t, there are plenty of people there who will be happy to remind you.

Monday is one just another day of the week, but it sure seems to get a bad rap. Ask somebody how their day is going, and the common answer is, “Not bad, for a Monday.” I guess if you set your expectations low enough, it’s not hard to measure up. Funny, you never hear anybody say their day is going pretty well for a Friday. I guess Friday gets a free pass based on its position on the calendar.

But it’s all a matter of perspective. If your goal is to just get through the week as quickly as possible, Monday is an obstacle and Friday is the reward. The other days just go by without much fanfare. Wednesday gets a little extra bump, simply because it’s the halfway point. It’s “Hump Day.” Thursday is “Friday Eve”, and Tuesday is “Well, at least it’s not Monday.”

It would be comical if not for the fact that we go through the same ritual every week. Unless you’re on vacation. Those are the weeks that fly past despite our best effort to make the days drag on as long as possible. Have you ever heard anybody on a cruise ship say it’s an okay day, considering it’s Monday? It’s more like, “What day is it? Monday? Wow, this week is going by fast!”

The key to making any day special, something you look forward to, is having a personal goal for the day. I’m not talking about meat loaf night, which would certainly be high on my list of things to make the day special. I’m talking about a goal that, once you’ve accomplished it, puts you closer to an even greater accomplishment that you can truly celebrate.

In my early days of stand-up comedy, we had Blue Monday at our local comedy club. Tuesday night there was a local open mic show, Wednesday was showcase night, and so on. Every weekday it seems, I had opportunities to get onstage somewhere and work on my set. Weekends, on the other hand, were reserved for those who had already paid their dues. The rest of us just sat and watched.

Back then I went through most weekends looking forward to Monday. Sure, I had to get up first and go to work. But I had a personal goal for each day during the week, something aside from just getting through another day at work and getting one day closer to a weekend when I’d have to sit there and wish I had something “fun” to do. As I said, it’s all a matter of perspective.

I’m once again in a position where I look forward to Monday, and each day of the week. I’m working on a goal that requires being around other people, interacting with them, and sharing ourselves with one another. Every day is a prime day to work toward that goal, but weekdays are best because people are just generally more accessible. On weekends, they’re all off doing something else.

So, I wake up each day during the week with a goal, something I want to accomplish before the day is done. And achieving that goal is as simple as doing what I said I was going to do. I don’t need instant results to validate that effort. It’s not about seeing how quickly I can reach my ultimate objective, but just doing what needs to be done to get there. The results will come.

When you look at the day in those terms, every day takes on a whole new importance. Maybe you’re into cross-stitch, and you’re trying to spend an hour each day working on your next creation. Maybe you’re trying to write a book and your goal is three new pages each day. Every day becomes yet another opportunity to put you closer to your goal.

We can spend our days just trying to get to bedtime, to the weekend, through the month, and through the year. Ultimately, that’s just a beeline to the other end of life, and often with nothing more to show for it than a tired old body and a lot of unfulfilled dreams.

Make each day special. Define your dream and decide what you need do each day to get closer to it. Commit to the effort, then follow through. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time – just enough to put you a little closer to your goal. Do that, and you’ll look forward to every day. Even Monday.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Keeping a Healthy Perspective

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Yesterday I had a follow-up appointment with one of the surgeons who messed around with my brain last year. I keep saying I came away with no lasting effects, but there are some who aren’t so sure. I make the most of it. Every time I forget something I just say, “That must’ve been in the part they cut off.”

Well, the verdict is in and my brain is just as intact as it was before the surgery. That, in itself, should be the greater source of concern. I’ve always been a little “out there.” The only negative effect, and it’s not from the surgery itself or even the condition that led to the surgery, is my right ear still has issues. Otherwise, I’m in pretty good shape.

I was reading an article yesterday about an interesting trend in health, or at least in our perception of health. In surveys, an increasing number of people my age rate their overall health as “good” or even “excellent.” And mind you, very few of those people are without health problems or physical limitations. Some are even battling cancer. Yet they still feel like their overall health is really good.

Younger people, on the other hand, are a little less optimistic about their health. In fact, an increasing percentage of them rate their health as “acceptable” or even “poor.” These are people who, for the most part, have never faced a life-threatening condition. Yet they don’t feel as healthy as people twice their age. Why do you think that is?

It’s all about perception. The older people aren’t any healthier – they just accept some of life’s aches and pains with a little more grace. When you reach my age, you go to bed earlier and wake up tired. Joints crack and pop. Daily discomfort is par for the course. You can’t run around the block and bending over makes you dizzy. That’s life.

But it’s something we accept, because we expect it. We know that, as we get older, our bodies won’t look or feel like the body of a twenty-year-old. So, when somebody asks about our health, we don’t make that comparison. Instead, we compare it to the perception we once had of people our age. You know – back when we were twenty and thought sixty was ancient.

But when you’re in your twenties or early thirties, and begin to feel the early effects of age, it’s all new and comes as somewhat of a surprise. You’re used to feeling perfect all the time, and sore joints, lower energy, and the occasional headache make you feel … well, old. Worse yet, you know this is just the start. And trust me, it is.

I think most people my age would pay good money to wake up each day feeling as “bad” as we did thirty years ago. But we know those days are long gone, so we adapt and make the most of what’s left. Instead of lamenting the fact that we can no longer run a 100-yard dash in 12 seconds, we’re happy to be able to walk from one end of a beach to the other.

It’s all about perspective. You’re as healthy as you feel. I’ve seen people much older than me fighting a terminal illness with full acceptance of their eventual fate, and when you ask how they’re feeling they smile and say, “I feel great!” It’s not a lie, and they’re not delusional. They’ve just come to terms with the fact that you don’t have to feel perfect – you make the most of what you’ve got.

This isn’t intended to be a slam on younger people. I remember that age, and thinking my aches and pains were a sign of rapidly declining health. Worse yet, I adjusted my lifestyle to accommodate my perceived infirmities. And, along with the physical changes, I allowed myself to grow old way before my time. I was grumpy, opinionated, and generally pessimistic about the world in which we live.

Now, my wife will argue that the grumpiness hasn’t completely gone away, but overall, I feel a lot more positive about life than I did thirty years ago. Since that time, I’ve had a heart attack, a few surgeries, and a lot of lower back pain. I wear bifocals and hearing aids, and when my gout flares up, I have to use a cane. And yesterday my surgeon said I may eventually lose hearing in my right ear.

And you know what? I feel healthier today than I have in decades. I know my limitations, and I adjust my lifestyle to fit within those constraints. But aside from those little aches and pains, I feel great!

It’s been said that what we perceive to be real is real. If you feel old, you’re old. If you feel sick, you’re sick. And if you feel young and healthy, you’re … well, maybe a little less old, but still healthy.  It’s all about perspective. Make yours positive!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Give Your Best in Whatever You Do

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off just right.

This has been a week of pretty intense work. It happens that way sometimes. Assignments are coming in as fast as you can handle them, and they’re all the kind that requires a lot of thought and effort. It’s not always fun when you’re in the middle of it, but it does make you realize why the company pays you to do this job.

I’ve often said that, especially at this age, we don’t work for a paycheck as much as we work for the satisfaction of knowing we made a difference. Sure, pay is important. But so is the personal gratification that comes from making the most of your skills to do the job well.

We do the same thing off the job, whether we realize it or not. Raising kids is one of those areas of life where you have to constantly tap your knowledge and experience and pull out the very best from your bag of tricks to do the best job possible. That’s not to say you’re doing anything deceptive. Just that you learn (sometimes the hard way) the best approach for each situation.

When I cut the grass, I tap on more than fifty years of experience. When I work on the car, I know exactly which tools I’ll need and when to use them. When I paint a room, I know why it’s important to cut in around the ceiling and baseboards before I grab the roller. And I know the value of a drop cloth placed carefully over upholstered furniture. As I said, some lessons we learn the hard way.

My granddaddy always used to say if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Everything we do is worthy of our best effort. Whether it’s something major, like building a storage shed from scratch, or something as routine as going to the grocery store, if we have to do the job anyway, why not give it our best effort? And in doing that, we build the experience to do it even better the next time.

Until they change up all the aisles in the grocery store and move everything where you can’t find it. Stores love to do that. It’s their way of keeping you in the store a little longer so you’ll see items you’d normally walk right past as you search for the items you want. They’ve learned that, by moving things around a little, you’ll pick up a few extra items along the way.

Now the stores are offering a service where you don’t even have to go inside to shop. It doesn’t matter where everything is hidden, because all you have to do is go online and tell them what you want, then sit in the parking lot while they load the groceries into your car. In fact, some are now offering in-home delivery where they bring the groceries in the house and put them away.

It’s all about standing above the competition, doing the job a little better than anybody else. And they’ve learned that times are changing, and some people really don’t like to shop. Brick & mortar retailers have put a lot of effort into building a strong online presence because more and more, people prefer the convenience of shopping from home.

But what would happen if the grocery store put its worst picks of produce and fattiest cuts of meat into your order, leaving the “pretty” stuff for customers who took time to go inside and pick out their own groceries? Not only would you stop using their online service, you’d probably find someplace else to shop and they’d lose your business for good. They know that.

So, again, if the job is worth doing, it’s worth doing the job right. It’s worth going the extra mile. And we all do it. What services do you offer, either on the job or off, to make people appreciate your effort and give them confidence in your ability to do the job just a little better than anybody else?

Some people bring donuts to work. That’s always a pleasant surprise. Some wipe down the counter as they’re waiting on coffee to brew. Maybe you take a little extra time to highlight areas of a report that you know the boss will want to see. Maybe you add a special ingredient into your family’s dinner. And maybe, instead of just reading a book to a toddler, you read it with enthusiasm.

All through the day, we do things for the benefit of others. We don’t do it just to stay busy. We do it for the satisfaction of a job well done and maybe to gain a little appreciation along the way. If you’re going to do the job anyway, give it your best. It’s a habit that’ll spill over to other areas of life where that extra effort could make all the difference in the world.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Windows of Opportunity are the Keys to Your Success

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

We talked a couple of days ago about the problem of doing the work that needs to be done and not seeing any visible results. It happens to all of us, and it’s frustrating when it does. Especially when there’s a limited window of opportunity, and if you miss that window, you have to sit around and wait for the next one.

My grandson sometimes cuts our grass. He’s got a full-time job and lives in a neighboring town, so it’s not like he can just walk across the street and do it. And, with a schedule that changes from week to week, I never know when to expect him. Factor in the weather, and there are very few opportunities for me to get my grass cut without doing it myself.

Yet, when the grass needs to be cut and we have a day without rain, you don’t blow the opportunity. With the season we’ve had, it could rain for the next four days in a row and by then the grass will be so high it’ll need to be cut twice – once to lower the height, and another to chop up the clippings. So, when that window of opportunity comes along, I get out there and mow the lawn myself.

Sometimes windows of opportunity come along a few times each day. If there was something you needed to do on your morning coffee break and just didn’t get around to it, you’ll have another break coming later in the day. Or maybe you can do it over lunch. If all else fails, you can set aside some time right after work. And if that doesn’t pan out, there’s always tomorrow.

But other times, the window of opportunity may last several weeks or even a few months, and then it’s gone. You had the best of intentions, but life just gets in the way.  Your health isn’t up to par, there’s a new project at work, the ball team needs a coach, an unexpected bill comes along, and there’s that room you’ve been meaning to paint. Meanwhile, the window just keeps shrinking.

It happens to all of us. Maybe you’ve got an outdoor project you wanted to tackle, but the weather just isn’t cooperating. Maybe you wanted to qualify for a business challenge that only comes around once a year. Maybe you were hoping to take the kids on a special vacation before school starts again. And no matter how hard you try, things just don’t seem to work out. You’re not alone.

I read yesterday that only a third of the farmers in my state have been able to plant their fields this year, because of historically heavy rainfall. The fields have been so wet they can’t even drive a tractor across them, much less plow the fields for planting. By now, their crops should be almost half-grown. Time is running out, and a good number of them have already given up for the year.

Those farmers would have given just about anything for a brief window of opportunity, and they’d have dropped everything to take advantage of it. They’ve learned, through bitter experience, that when the fields are ready to plant, you plant. It doesn’t matter what else you’d planned to do that day or that week. You do what needs to be done before that window closes again.

Thankfully, for most of us, the situation isn’t quite so dire. There may be something we need to do, or maybe even just want to do, and if we miss our chance today, there’s always tomorrow. Or next month, or next year. Keep that up and you’ll forget what you wanted to do in the first place. The consequence may be that nothing changes. But is that what you really want?

If there’s something you want to change, find those windows of opportunity and don’t let another one slip by. There will be a day when you can look back at this point in your life and celebrate opportunities taken or lament the ones you missed. Do the things you need to do today. Your tomorrow depends on it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

When Seeing is Believing, Take a Closer Look

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Now that the weather is a bit nicer, I’ve been trying to get out and take a walk more often. Lunchtime is usually a good time to get away, because it gives me a break from my desk, lets me get a little exercise, and keeps me from gorging on food I really don’t need anyway.

I work downtown, so there are always plenty of places to walk. And there’s never a shortage of people to make the walk interesting. Most simply walk past, give a brief nod, and maybe say hello. Some sit on a bench and look longingly at a world that seems to have passed them by. And then there’s the guy who was chirping like a bird and having a loud verbal argument with himself.

I wish I was making that up, but that’s what I encountered yesterday. Last week it was somebody else, waving his arms and yelling loudly at somebody who wasn’t there. Or, at least from my perspective. Who am I to say there was nobody there, just because I couldn’t see them? In his mind, he was in a full-blown confrontation.

It’s easy to form an opinion on what’s going on with some of these people. Drugs may certainly have been involved, but there are a dozen other possibilities that are much less nefarious. You could be looking at a military veteran who saw things in person that no network would ever allow us to see on TV. You just never know.

Perception is a tricky thing. It’s an important part of quickly assessing a situation in which our safety may rely on our ability to accurately perceive what’s going on. But it’s also a very biased opinion based exclusively on what we’ve experienced and learned to date. We think we know enough to assess the situation, but quite often we’re completely wrong. Worse yet, we may never know.

I remember in high school, walking through a loud and crowded hallway between classes, there was a guy with long stringy hair walking through, seemingly oblivious to everything around him. His head was cocked to one side, his mouth was open and slightly drooling, and he was clapping and snapping his fingers to a beat only he could hear. I was certain he was drugged into oblivion.

A couple of months later, one of my teachers was talking about human miracles and how we can overcome otherwise crippling handicaps to live a normal life. As it turns out, that student wasn’t on drugs. He was blind. He was able, in the middle of a crowded hallway, to listen to the echoes from his claps and snaps to know exactly where he was and what was in front of him.

I remember thinking what a miracle that was, the challenges he had to overcome. Imagine learning the floor plan of a large school so well that you know each doorway and what’s behind it. Water fountains made an entirely different sound, and I’m sure the echo off the lockers was distinct. And he was able to selectively shut out all the background noise to hear only his own echoes.

As I said, sometimes you just never know. It was probably my first big lesson in judging a book by its cover and, nearly fifty years later, I can still see him stumbling through the hallway to get to his next class. I often think about my first impression of him and how incredibly wrong I was. He wasn’t intentionally dulling his senses – he was using them to a level most of us will never achieve.

Every person you encounter presents an image that may or may not be entirely accurate. The young woman who looks like she was out all night partying, but in reality, nobody ever taught her how to apply make-up. The guy who’s nodding off at his desk because he has a severe case of narcolepsy. The overweight person who’s eating candy to ward off insulin shock.

It would be easy to form an opinion based on two or three seconds of observation. And, even when our opinion is accurate, there’s still a lot more we don’t know. Maybe that person is on drugs. But why? What have they experienced in life that’s led them to the choices they’re making today? More importantly, if we’d been in their shoes, would we have responded that much more responsibly?

We’re all very different people, and we all have unique gifts, abilities, troubles, and needs. And we all share this planet together. Instead of crossing the street when I saw a man having a fight with himself, maybe I could have helped talk him through it. Maybe I could have calmed the “other person” down. Who knows?

It’s been said that we should never judge a person unless we’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Until we do, we may never know how hard that walk might be.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved