What Are You Laughing About?

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

I heard from an old friend this week who implored me to spend a little more time focusing on humor. I think that was her way of telling me to get a life. It’s not that she doesn’t appreciate the motivational stuff, but after a while even I think, “Lighten up!”

When I look back over my life, it’s hard to find something I can’t laugh about. Even things that seemed pretty severe at the moment are funny later. Like the time I whacked myself in the forehead with a 20-pound sledgehammer. Take a moment to picture how that could have happened. If you know me, it’s not hard. When I do stupid, I don’t mess around.

I was doing some demolition work in a bowling alley, swinging the hammer down into the ball return tracks to knock wooden strips from the floor. There were some obstacles I had to work around, like opposing 2x4s extending from under the lanes, leaving a gap of six inches for a hammer that was four inches wide. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, I learned a valuable lesson that night. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve successfully swung through that narrow opening without missing. You’re only as good as your last swing. And mine, as luck would have it, went a little bit to the left. I also learned that if you’re gonna hit a piece of thick wood with a 20-pound hammer, don’t hit it across the grain. Boing!!!

The recoil must have taken the hammer out of my hands completely. That or my arms stretched a foot longer as my wrists inverted, allowing the flat part of the hammer to find the center of my forehead. When I woke up, there were a dozen people hovering over me, and a co-worker asking, “Is he day-ed???” That’ll get your heart pumping.

I didn’t laugh that night. I didn’t laugh the next day, either. But fast-forward three years later when the Navy doctor was trying to get to the bottom of my migraines and asked if I’d ever done anything to cause them. “Well, I smacked myself in the head with a sledgehammer.” I’m pretty sure his next sentence included the word “dumbass.”

Sometimes, it takes a few years to find the funny. That’s okay. With something like that, it’s worth the wait. Believe me, I’ve shared that story at least a hundred times. In fact, it’s my default explanation every time I do something really stupid. And it works! I could put firecrackers in the microwave, and the conversation immediately changes. “You hit yourself with a what?”

Okay, I know you’re dying to know where that one came from. Yes, there is a story involving Dave and firecrackers and a microwave oven. In my defense, I was only 16 and, according to Dad’s car insurance company, still prone to random acts of stupidity. The firecracker was wet, and I wanted to dry it out. It worked. Instantly. Who needs fuses when you’ve got an idiot with a magnetron?

I could probably write a book about all the stupid things I’ve done over the years, but nobody would believe one person could mastermind all those blunders. Mom wouldn’t argue. She’s the one who peeled me off the wall after I found two suitcase keys on a small chain and plugged them into an electric outlet. That fuse didn’t last long, either.

When my grandson was nine, we were driving home from church and he said, “Grandpa, when you die …” He paused, and I said, “What about when you die?” He said, “No, when YOU die …” Okay, that went downhill fast. Still, it was an innocent question. “What about when I die, buddy?” Without missing a beat he asked, “Can I have your motorcycle?”

Here, I thought we were having a deep spiritual conversation, and he was just trying to get dibs on Grandpa’s stuff. A week later he asked for my pool table. “No, you can’t have my pool table and you can’t have my motorcycle. Now get that toaster away from my bath water!” I’m kidding. He didn’t need a toaster. He’d heard the stories and figured it was just a matter of time.

Humor finds its way into the darkest of moments. There was nothing funny about my dad passing away. But his insistence that I drive him to Fort Lauderdale to see Mom (who’s been gone 26 years) made me wonder if he was trying to help my grandson inherit a pool table. Dad always liked him anyway.

We are among the only creatures on the planet with the ability to laugh. It’s a gift, one that grows exponentially when we share it with others. Finding the humor is easy. Practice a little and it’ll show up when you least expect it. And the boss’s expression when it happens in the middle of a presentation – priceless.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Close, But No Cigar!

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

So, last Thursday my wife and I finally got our first Covid vaccine. Yes, we’re a little late, given our age, but we’re traveling and that adds a bit of complexity. Still, we got it done, without any bad effects, and now I can reassure others that I’ve been vaccinated. Okay, half-vaccinated. We still have another shot to go. But that’s just a formality, right?

Actually, no. It’s not just a formality. It’s an important part of the treatment that more than doubles our immunity to the virus. That doesn’t mean we’ll never get sick. It just means we’re that much less likely to contract the virus and, if we do, it should be somewhat less intense. That’s comforting.

My wife would be the first to say I’m good at getting started, but I tend to fall down before I reach the finish line. Apparently, we don’t entirely agree on the notion of “close enough.” My backyard shed is a perfect example. My grandson and I built it from scratch and it’s beautiful. Well, it will be once I finish installing the trim. C’mon, it’s only been four years!

There’s just that part of my brain that says when something is usable, the pressure is off. I ripped up all the carpet in our house and replaced it with laminate flooring. It looks great! Well, it will once I finish installing the trim. I had to remove the baseboards to get the job done, and half are still missing. C’mon, it’s only been twelve years! Wow, did I say that out loud?

Yesterday we talked about those baby steps, and that any progress toward a goal is something to be celebrated. But we also acknowledged that time is not a completely unlimited resource, and if we hope to accomplish our goal by a certain time, we may need to speed things up a bit. At my age, I need a jet pack.

There are times when “close enough” is truly close enough. The game of horseshoes relies heavily on this concept. Steering a mammoth container ship through the Suez Canal – not so much. That one has to be exact. And they pretty much expect you to finish what you started. You can’t stop halfway through and say, “Yeah, but look how far we got!”

We’d never think of using that on the job. When the boss gives us an assignment, they pretty much expect us to finish it. Trim isn’t optional. And, while they may appreciate the progress we’ve made and how hard we worked to get there, the job still isn’t done. And that’s what they’ll remember when it comes time for our annual review.

So, here’s the question – if you were paying somebody else to accomplish your own personal goals, how long would they be employed if they worked at those goals as hard as you do? That’s a tough one to bite off, because for most of us, the answer is “not long.” But hey, you gave it an honest effort and that’s worth something, right?

Well, it depends. If my goal is to save a million dollars and I only save half that much, that’s pretty respectable. I don’t know of too many people who would hang their head in shame. On the other hand, if I needed the entire million to build my dream house, it’s not going to happen. I can either get back to work or ditch my plans and start over.

Yet, when it comes to our dreams, we allow ourselves a certain amount of leeway for coming up short. “I tried. And in the beginning, I was getting a lot done! But I just wasn’t able to make it happen.” You weren’t able, or you just didn’t follow through? There’s a difference.

Driving through the mountains is rarely up one side and down the other. You reach the top of first hill, only to see six more ahead of you. And there may be a dozen more behind them. Now, if your only goal was to climb one hill, you’re there. Mission accomplished. But if you wanted to reach the other side, you’ve still got some work to do.

That first step is critical, but it’s no more important than every other step along the way. There’s a starting line and a finish line, and you have to cross both before you can take a bow. Sure, goals sometimes change, and that’s okay if your dream has changed. But don’t short-change your dreams because there’s another hill to climb.

Somewhere along that mountain drive, you crest one final hill and see clear sailing ahead. At that point, all those hills behind you are a distant memory. But if you stop too soon, you may never know how close you came. Your dream deserves that extra mile. And you know what? So do you.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Thought May Not Always Count, But Baby Steps Do

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

My wife bought some freshly baked muffins a few days ago. According to the label, they were supposed to taste like Raisin Bran. I think they used a little poetic license there, because halfway through I hadn’t found the first raisin. I was just about to complain when I found it. One. It was hiding near the bottom, hoping I’d give up before I got that far.

It reminds me of when my grandson and I tore down my old shed. It was in really bad shape, and a decent puff of wind would have brought it to the ground. Okay, maybe not, because I actually prayed for that to happen. It would have saved a lot of work and, as it turned out, a nasty infection from stepping on a rusty nail.

But as I connected a nylon strap to the inside of the shed with the other end attached to my truck, my neighbor came out and asked what we were doing. “We’re building a new shed!” It felt good saying it. Then I handed my grandson the key and told him to have fun. Ten seconds later, the shed was on the ground. It was a year before the new one took its place.

I heard a story once about a woman who went to her high school reunion and, as others were bragging about their accomplishments, she said, “I’m working on my PhD!” A friend who knew better quietly reminded her that she dropped out of college. She responded, “I’ve thought about going back. It’s called fake it till you make it.”

So, what do these stories have in common? Well, just because the label mentions Raisin Bran, that doesn’t mean they used two scoops. Demolition is the first step in construction, so swinging a sledgehammer still counts. And finally, if you have a vision of something you’re thinking about doing, then technically it’s a work in progress. Right?

Well, let’s throw the first one out, because when I eat Raisin Bran, I expect at least one raisin in every bite. Anything that falls short of that standard is just false advertising. Besides, we bought some lemon-blueberry muffins yesterday and they were the real deal. Strong lemony flavor with fresh blueberries throughout. So, it can be done.

Is tearing something down the same as building something new? Well, that depends where the something new is going to be built. If it’s on the same piece of earth, then yes – you’ve begun the process, and it’s likely you can envision the end result. I know I did. For a whole year. I’m not so sure my neighbors were quite as thrilled.

Is telling people you’re doing something you’re not really doing a lie? Well, maybe. But again, let’s examine intent. Are you thinking seriously about it? Do you have a plan? Have you taken any steps in that direction? If so, it’s not completely untrue. I’m working on becoming a millionaire. I have been for 48 years. These things take time.

But every dollar I save is a dollar closer to my goal. Granted, I may need a few extra years to get there. More like a few extra decades, but you get the idea. If the goal is there and you’re taking steps to achieve that goal – even if it’s just getting up and going to work every day – you’re on a path to success.

Now, how long will it take you to get there? That’s another matter entirely. It’s easy to say I’m on a path to becoming a millionaire, but it’s also likely I won’t live to be 150. So, if I hope to achieve that goal in this lifetime, something has to change. I don’t need to share all those details with everybody, but I do have to acknowledge them myself.

When a lumberjack cuts down a tree, is he clearing the forest or building fine furniture? It all depends on your point of view. But if the tree has to come down first, and then be shipped to a lumber mill, and then to a lumber wholesaler, and then to a lumber store, and then to Joe’s wood shop, it’s all part of the process.

Be proud of the things you’re working to accomplish. Focus on the big picture. Celebrate every step along the way. You may not be there yet, but you’re a step closer and that’s something. Even those obstacles you were destined to face sooner or later are a form of progress, because now they’re behind you.

And if you’re still in the “thinking about it” stage, all it takes is one step to put that dream into motion. Granted, you may have to pick up the pace at some point, but as long as the goal is clear and you’re taking steps in that direction, you’re on the road to success. Throw in a few more raisins, and you’re there!

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You May Not Know How, But You Can Always Learn

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

How many of you watch those cooking shows on TV? They have special channels dedicated to cooking – several of them. They have shows for any style of cooking you can imagine, whether it’s baked, fried, broiled, boiled, steamed, barbecued, or just set out in the sun to cook itself. They even have special shows where junior chefs make us all feel stupid.

If there’s ever anything you wanted to learn to cook, it’s there. They even have special episodes dedicated to really tough dishes like French toast. Apparently, there’s more to it than eggs and stale bread. Of course, you can’t just have French toast. It has to be served with hand-drawn butter, Chantilly cream, and some type of alcohol.

I know this because my wife watches these shows a lot. Whether it’s the rancher’s wife making burritos, cake decorators making a full-size replica of a 747, or the guy who travels the country looking for diners most of us would drive right past, Americans’ preoccupation with food is apparently eclipsed only by our fascination with “Breaking News.”

If you’ve read this far, I can only assume you’ve seen at least one or two of these shows. So, here’s my question – do you record the shows or take copious notes so you can replicate those dishes on your own? Or is it more like watching khaki-clad idiots grab deadly snakes by the tail? “Fascinating, but you’ll never catch ME doing that!”

We all like to know how things work. Well, most of us. My oldest daughter doesn’t care what happens under the hood, as long as the car starts when she presses the button. “You mean it needs gas?” Okay, I’m kidding. She knows it needs gas. I think she can even identify a spark plug, in a line-up of tires and brake parts. Just don’t ask her to install one.

I can say that because she never reads my posts. But in complete honesty, she’s pretty handy with a set of tools. She just chooses not to use them unless there’s no other choice. But when she was a young single mother, I taught her how to replace her own brakes. She did the work herself, and the car actually stopped, which is the true measure of success.

I remember telling her when she finished that she may never do that again, but she’d always know she could. I’m pretty sure she only heard the first part of that sentence because, to my knowledge, she’s never done it again. But she doesn’t have to. She makes enough money to let somebody else do the dirty work. All she had to do is change diapers.

Give somebody the right training and tools, and there’s not much they can’t do. Even brain surgery is simply a matter of training and tools. Thankfully, we have laws on how much training that requires, and exactly what kind of tools you’re allowed to use. Even then, you have to carry malpractice insurance. That’s comforting.

But there isn’t much we couldn’t do if we set our minds to it. Could you play a guitar like Eric Clapton? Probably. Could you paint like Michelangelo? Maybe. Could you build a successful business and build the life of your dreams? Absolutely. If one person can do it, most anybody can. It’s just a matter of how hard we’re willing to try.

While one person may have a natural talent for something that sets them apart, at the end of the day it’s still a matter of process and practice – learning what to do and then doing it until we get good. This is why ten-year-olds are able to create gourmet desserts without a recipe card. It’s not a gift they were born with – it’s one they wanted.

More often than not, our limitations come from within. That may be intentional or coincidental. I’ve never learned much about plumbing. That’s by design. I don’t want to know, because if I do, somebody will invariably ask me to do it. On the other hand, I’ve never tried to learn anything about accounting. When assets have to equal liabilities, I’m lost.

Could I learn these things? Sure. Do I want to? Well, not so far but that can always change depending on the circumstances. But make no mistake, if anything can be done by anybody, you can learn to do it also. Maybe not as quickly or as well, but the ugliest birthday cake I’ve ever eaten was also the best.

If there’s something you want to do, then do it. If you don’t know how, find somebody who’s willing to show you. There’s nothing you can’t learn, and not much you can’t master. It’s just a matter of how badly you want it.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What’s Your Backup Plan?

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

There was a commercial on the radio where a banker called for a man and his young son answered. The kid told the banker his dad had gone fishing. He bragged, “My dad is the world’s greatest fisherman. And neat, too!” The banker was intrigued. “Neat?” “Yep! Every time he comes home the fish are neatly wrapped in white paper just like they do at the fish store!”

I was never that creative when I went fishing. We’d get back to the dock, open the cooler, and take out the few fish we’d caught. If my wife commented about how small they were, I had a standard reply. “They must have shrunk in the ice.” Hey, it’s physics … I don’t make the rules.

Whether you call it creativity, forward thinking, or just plain lying, there’s something to be said for having a backup plan. Things won’t always go according to plan, so there’s nothing wrong with making sure there’s a seafood market on the way home. And make sure it’s open.

In my early twenties, a business owner introduced me to a word I’d never used before – diversify. In simple terms, it means not putting all your eggs in one basket. Of course, yesterday that was the name of the game as kids around the world ran around picking up brightly colored eggs. At least those are boiled. If you drop the whole basket, all they do is crack.

But when it comes to life and finances, it’s not always that simple. Find a stock that’s performing well and sink all your money into that one stock. As long as it keeps growing, you’ll make money. But what happens if the company goes under or the product suddenly becomes obsolete? Then you’re left holding a stack of worthless paper.

It works that way in the job market as well. You get an education, find a great job, and settle back into a life of relative comfort. Well, as comfortable as work can be. But having been on the receiving end of a few “restructuring initiatives” (that’s what they call it when they send you home), it’s a lot more comfortable having a job than not having one.

But life happens. And whether you’re talking about employment or the stock market or pretty much anything besides dating and marriage, it’s good to be invested in more than one thing just in case something falls through. In this day and age, you can pretty much count on it. And according to a guy named Murphy, it’ll always happen at the worst possible time.

Now, I’m not a real fan of Murphy, and to be honest, I’m not even sure he’s a real person. But Murphy’s Law is well-known to most of us: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible moment.” It’s a little pessimistic for my taste, but reality says we need to be prepared for those times when things don’t go as planned.

If you’re an investor, it means spreading your money around a bit. Sure, focus on the one that is making you the most money today, but always be on the looking for something additional. In the job market, it means keeping your resume up to date and networking with others in your profession just in case.

And unless you’ve reached a point where you could retire today with no additional sources of income, diversification is even more critical. The days of company-funded retirement are long gone. Social Security appears to be relatively safe for now, but who knows what the future holds? And if you think your 401(k) is safe, we need to talk.

The closer you get to retirement age, the less time you’ll have to recover from an unexpected scenario that wipes out or drastically reduces your income. Success in the stock market is a long-term strategy. And retirement plans go bankrupt just like anything else. Could you withstand a shock this late in the game? Most of us can’t.

And if you’re younger, that’s both good and bad. You have more time to get ready for retirement, but you’re also that much more likely to be called into HR with unpleasant news at some point. That’s not a reflection on you, but on employment in general. Job security isn’t what it used to be, and that’s not likely to change in our favor.

Bad things happen when we least expect it. Having a backup plan can make the difference between survival and bankruptcy. What’s your plan? Could you implement it on a moment’s notice? Or would it take a little time?

Diversification is insurance against disaster. It doesn’t mean you’ll never feel the pain of income loss, but it can certainly minimize that pain. Do it right, and you can match or even exceed your current income. Then your biggest problem is where to spend it.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You’re Working – But Are You Getting Anything Done?

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

Did you ever hear the story about the magic soup stone? An old woman goes to the door to find a tired traveler offering to share his stone that magically makes soup. All you have to do is put it in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. He’d show her if she’d share the soup with him. It seemed so incredible, she just had to give it a try.

Once the pot began to warm up, he said, “We should add a little salt. Soup needs salt.” So, she did. And pepper. Next, he suggested a few vegetables. You know, just for flavor. She complied and, to her amazement, it began to smell like real soup. Finally, he asked if she had any meat. A soup this good can only be better with a little meat. And he was right. It was awesome.

Of course, the moral of the story is don’t believe everything somebody tells you, and only half of what you see. Yes, the soup started out with a rock and some warm water. But if you put a rock in some warm water and add meat, vegetables, and a few spices, it takes on the flavor and aroma of soup. Then you take the rock out and eat. Voila! Just like magic.

It’s like those diet pills that promise to “melt away the pounds.” Okay, first things first – fat doesn’t melt. Not body fat. It turns into concrete and you have to take it out with a sledgehammer. And after six bottles of those pills, you notice the asterisk next to the weight loss claim … “When combined with proper diet and exercise.” Well, duh!!! I can do that with M&Ms!

How often do we try to accomplish something the easy way, only to find it doesn’t work unless you fall back on the tried & true methods you were trying to avoid in the first place? Or the task itself seems so monumental you never really get started, but realize later you’ve been going through the motions all this time and could have accomplished something worthwhile?

I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a book for years. Okay, decades. But let’s be honest, that’s a pretty big effort. The thought of putting 50,000 coherent words together on the same topic is daunting, to say the least. First you need a topic. Then you need to figure out an approach and apply your own unique slant. Then you have to actually write it. I need a magic book stone.

But with all these morning posts over the past three years, I’ve written the equivalent of 9 books. Somehow, I found the time to do all that writing and a never-ending supply of things to write about. Okay, if you’ve been reading these posts for three years, you may have a differing opinion.  Still, you get the point. Sometimes it’s not the work as much as the focus.

How many times have you found yourself spinning your wheels, working all day just to stay caught up, when the same amount of effort would have accomplished one of your goals? Or you’ve tried every new gimmick that came along, only to find that none of them work and the same amount of effort would have done the job the old-fashioned way?

My business is a lot like that. It’s simple. Really simple. That’s not to say it’s easy, but it’s nothing that requires any special education or skills. All it takes is to follow instructions – duplicate what others have done. Yet every new person coming in has a “better” way of getting the job done faster. And in all these years, I’ve never seen a one succeed.

We all like to be creative and come up with our own twist on what everybody else is doing. And that’s a good thing, in moderation. Let’s face it, when Thomas Edison got tired of carrying around an oil lamp, our world changed. But in my relatively short lifetime, I’ve seen several attempts at improving on the light bulb. So far, only one has really worked.

It seems like we’ve covered a lot of territory in this post, but is there a point? I think there are a couple. First, nothing is ever quite as easy as it seems. There is no magic soup stone, and success still has to be earned. Also, if we apply a little focus to the work we’re already doing, we can achieve our dreams instead of just working.

Will I get that book finished? Yes. I have no doubt. Will it sell? That’s another story. But anything is possible if we consistently do what needs to be done. There may be easier ways, and some may actually work. But start with what you know works and then experiment from there. You may be surprised what you can accomplish.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Are You Prioritizing Your Dreams?

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

It’s April 1, a national holiday for practical jokers and wannabe comedians. It’s a day when great deals really are too good to be true, and everything on the Internet is met with a little extra skepticism. And it’s the one day a politician’s word is as good as anybody else’s. I’m not sure that’s as good as it sounds.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, April is a symbol of hope. Winter is gone (mostly), flowers bloom, and small animals abound. Oh, they were there before. But now we can see what they’re up to, instead of wondering how much insulation and wiring they’ve destroyed in hibernation. It’s a good thing squirrels are so cute. Besides, one is barely enough for a sandwich.

April is also the time when we start to think about getting started on those projects we dreamed up over the winter. I didn’t say we actually start them – just that we think about it. But Mom always said it’s the thought that counts. Come to think of it, my wife says that a lot, too. I’m beginning to think that’s just a tactful way of saying, “Nice try.”

Planning projects is easy. You dream it up, figure out what it would take to make it happen, and then start listing all the things that are standing in the way. “It’s too cold right now. As soon as it warms up, I’ll get started. As long as it doesn’t get too hot. But I’ll have to set aside time to do the taxes. And then there’s graduation and summer vacation, and then … well, I’ll get to it.”

We all have good intentions. And I’m told they come in real handy for paving the road to perdition. Several years ago, I tore down our backyard storage shed to make room for a new one. But in the process, I stepped on a rusty nail and my foot got infected and then it got too hot to work outside and then winter came and then … well, you get the picture.

It was a year before my grandson and I actually built the new shed, and that’s a personal best for me. Notice I didn’t say we finished the new shed – we built it. I still need to put on the front and rear trim pieces and install soffits to keep the birds out. But it’s reasonably weatherproof, and that was my goal five years ago. Get the lawnmower in out of the rain.

And we haven’t even talked about the missing baseboards from new flooring that I installed twelve years ago, the cracked vanity top in the bathroom, the new faucet we bought for the kitchen, or all the clutter in the basement and garage. I told my wife it’s the thought that counts. She said the same thing about dinner. I guess two can play that game.

Home projects are one thing. Sooner or later, they have a way of prioritizing themselves and eventually you don’t have a choice. But what about all those other things you wanted to do? That business you wanted to start, the trip you planned to take, or the book you’ve been meaning to write? Well, maybe this winter when there’s nothing better to do.

The longer we put things off, the easier it is to do. After a while, it just becomes routine. Dream it up, put it off … dream it up, put it off. The boss has this stuff figured out. They dream it up and set a deadline. Otherwise, nothing would ever get done. Except coffee. They said “take initiative.” Isn’t that when we do something without being told? That’s a good thing, right?

It’s not that we’re lazy. Far from it. The problem is that life doesn’t stop just because we have other plans. It doesn’t even move out of the way. It’s like that old lady in the grocery store who parks her cart in the middle of the aisle as she searches the entire selection of canned soup looking for that one flavor the store doesn’t sell. And I didn’t even want soup.

Meanwhile, we wait for that perfect opportunity to get on with our own plans. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the perfect opportunity doesn’t exist. Sometimes you have to just push the cart out of the way and move on. Or do like the boss does – dream it up and set a deadline. Put it in writing and give it to somebody else so they can nag you till it’s done.

We can’t control life’s interruptions any more than we can control the weather. But unless our dreams take priority, they’ll never get done. Spring has begun. And another one is just a year away. The question is, will you begin the next one living your dream, or thinking about it?

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Dreams Don’t Care Where You’ve Been

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

A couple of days ago, the container ship that had been blocking the Suez Canal was finally freed. Investigators will try over the next several months to determine how it got stuck in the first place, and attorneys will certainly offer their opinion. But I’ll bet nobody is as relieved as the guy who was standing at the helm when they hit the sand. “Starboard? Is that even a word? C’mon Captain … right or left???”

If you’ve never served aboard a ship, let me share some insight. The Captain doesn’t “drive” the ship. In fact, he’s probably never touched the steering wheel. It’s usually a junior crew member who didn’t have anything better to do at the time, so he got stuck at the helm taking orders from somebody else and will catch the blame the instant something goes wrong. “I told him hard to port!” Really? When?

A few days ago, there was a meme on social media showing a tiny excavator next to this massive ship, digging away handfuls of mud in an attempt to set it free. The caption said if you think there are unimportant people on this planet, remember that 12% of the global economy is in the hands of a guy who shovels dirt for a living. That puts it in perspective.

For every great feat of mankind, it’s the people in the trenches who make it happen. Elon Musk gets a lot of credit for electric cars and private spaceships, but I doubt he’s ever turned a wrench on any one of them. He comes up with an idea, pays others to develop the idea, and then pays even more people to do the grunt work. He may be a visionary, but he’s mostly just the rich guy at the top.

It’s said that 10% of the population controls 90% of the wealth. That’s true. In fact, it’s probably a little optimistic. And if you don’t believe that, look around you. Count the number of apartments you pass on your way to work, and then count the number of mansions. How many dump trucks do you see for every limousine? How many executives are there in your company? How many workers?

That’s why it’s so hard for those of us who spend our days in the trenches to imagine ourselves at the top. “Get an education, go to work, and climb the corporate ladder.” That’s the advice we’re given. And it’s good advice, if you’re a really patient person with dreams of mediocrity. But what happens when you realize your ladder is too short or is propped against the wrong wall?

A while back, I heard the story of a man from Central America who moved to New York City with barely enough money to live for a couple of weeks, and took a job parking cars while sleeping in an abandoned car every night to save money so he could eventually move his family to join him. He was a hard worker, but one of those people everybody overlooked. Until somebody found him sleeping in their car. I’m sure he moved a lot.

Still, he had a dream – he saw his family living with him in a home they owned. It was a simple dream, but one that burned within him every day. It got him up in the morning, prodded him to work hard all day, and gave him a reason to put his trust in a complete stranger who said, “I can help.” That stranger didn’t offer a handout – he offered a plan.

For most people, it would be hard to wake up every day in somebody else’s car and see ourselves living in a mansion. Especially in a strange country where we can barely speak the language. But that’s exactly how this story ends. He took a simple opportunity and applied it to his dream. Granted, that dream was modest at first – a home of his own. But in building that dream, he made even bigger dreams possible.

If you don’t think you have what it takes, you’re not seeing the big picture. Maybe you think you lack the education or skills. Maybe you’ve made some mistakes in the past. Maybe you were born poor, and on the wrong side of town. Or maybe you’ve worked your way up that ladder and think you’ve reached the highest point available to an “ordinary” person like you.

Ordinary people achieve extraordinary results. Success isn’t for the select few – it’s for anybody who has a dream and a burning desire to achieve it. It’s for those who will not be denied, who are willing to go that extra mile when everybody else is watching TV. Don’t define yourself by your spot on the ladder. See yourself where you want to be. Is it possible? Absolutely! Can it happen? Well, that part is up to you.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Dreams Don’t Always Get Better With Time

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

When people visit places they’ve never been, there’s usually some unique attraction, something in particular they really want to see or experience. In San Antonio, I wanted to see the Alamo. In New Orleans, it was the river. Okay, and Bourbon Street. You have to do that once, and once was enough. Now that we’re in Arizona, my wife’s greatest ambition is to see a roadrunner.

Yes, we could have done that in just about any zoo, not to mention Saturday morning cartoons. But there’s something about seeing one trotting alongside the road without a care in the world, not even the coyote. Yes, I watched way too much TV as a kid.

I’ve seen roadrunners on previous visits. They’re not like the cartoon. If that’s your only exposure, you’d expect something as big as ostrich and faster than Superman. They’re more like an anorexic chicken with abnormally long legs. Still, fun to watch as a dust devil approaches across the desert. I’ve seen them, too. Just not Taz.

I remember on the drive out here, as we were heading through barren mountains and desert, my wife commented that she didn’t know any place like that really existed. She’s seen mountains before, but they were covered with trees. She’s seen sand, but it was on a beach. And I’m not sure she’s ever seen a real cactus before. Not unless somebody planted it.

Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that mean the most. I remember driving through Yellowstone National Park, and an RV passed in the opposite direction. In the windshield, there were three kids sitting on the dash (yes, no seatbelts), their eyes alight with amazement. Right then, I decided I want to do that with my own grandkids someday.

Dreams begin at the most unexpected times. We see or hear something, and it sparks a flame. The more we focus on that experience, the stronger the flame grows. Do it enough, and it becomes a roaring fire. But like a fire, it has to be fed. We can’t just dream of something once and expect it to thrive. We have to keep adding fuel to the fire.

Part of that fuel is easy – imagination and pictures. Put those two together and the dream begins to take on a life of its own. Feed the fire, and it begins to feel real. It’s no longer just something you want to do, but something you can actually see yourself doing. Reach that point, and you’re one plan away from making it happen. All that stands in your way is action.

The problem then becomes, when? You know what you want to accomplish. You can see yourself doing it. You have a plan. You know what needs to be done. But when? A goal is a dream with a plan and an expiration date. Okay, a deadline. If you miss a deadline, you can always try again. Expiration dates are a little more permanent. Especially with yogurt.

And here’s the thing. Expiration dates aren’t always what’s printed on the packaging. Sometimes it comes a lot sooner than it was supposed to. Maybe you left it sitting out too long, or maybe the package wasn’t completely sealed. Next thing you know, you’re hugging the commode. Especially with yogurt.

It’s pretty much the same with our dreams. We always think there’s time, and it’s always after some life-changing event. “After I get a good job.” “After I pay off these student loans.” “After we start a family.” “After the kids are in school.” “After the kids are grown.” “After we pay off the house.” “After I retire.” Have I missed any?

Well, if we’re lucky, we get to make those choices. But life sometimes has plans of its own. One day you’re driving to work with that dream in the back of your mind, and next thing you know a dump truck takes your spot in the road. Or the doctor calls with unwelcome news, or your body just says, “That’s it – we’re old. Fake it all you want, I’m done playing.”

Some plans should be put on hold, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make them possible now. Besides age or time or whatever life-changing event you’re waiting on, what else needs to be in place to make your dream come true? Odds are money is part of it. And you can get started on that today. They have these things they call banks, and money has no shelf life.

And if there’s no reason for putting your plans on hold other than some sense of honorable self-deprivation, then make it happen. If you’ll enjoy something when you’re 65, you’ll enjoy it that much more now. You already have the dream. All that stands in your way is action. And unlike time or life’s twists and turns, that’s the one thing you really can control.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Let the Door Hit You On the Way In

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

It was a year ago last week that I started a new job with a previous employer. I’d been with them for almost four years when my position was eliminated. “No hard feelings, Dave … it’s just business.” I wish I had a few dollars for every time I’ve heard that one.

And no, there weren’t any hard feelings. It was just business. Besides, the company was really gracious in the way they went about it. They gave me over two months of advance notice along with severance pay, and my managers tried hard to find somebody else in the company to take me. “Please, give this guy a job! He’s driving us nuts!!!”

Okay, that’s not exactly how it went down, but the point is they could have been a lot more unemotional about the way they handled it. Sure, at the end of the day, I was the one without a job, but that’s just the reality of business today. Long gone are the days when you went to work at the factory and left with a gold watch 40 years later.

Something I’ve learned over the years … it’s a small world, and bridges burned aren’t easily repaired. I love the memes about a person flipping off a frustrated driver as they swerved in front of him to swipe the only remaining parking spot, only to arrive at their job interview with the recipient of their middle-finger salute. Can you say karma?

It reminds me of my younger days when I routinely worked a second job to make ends meet. When I was stationed in Key West, a friend taught me how to work on bowling machines, a skill that earned me a fair amount of money over the years. And all those hours on the receiving end of 40 lanes provides a convenient excuse any time people question my ability to focus.

At one point, a new mechanic came onboard and immediately challenged my expertise. He’d been in the industry a while, and he wanted more hours. My hours. And what better way to pad his pocket than to convince the owner I wasn’t competent? Suffice to say we didn’t get along very well, and I didn’t mind. I was still there long after he left.

A year later and at a new duty station 1,100 miles away, I applied for a part-time job in the local bowling alley. As I waited to meet the manager, guess who I saw walking my way? My heart stopped. Then he spoke. “Dave! What are you doing here?” He introduced me to the manager with a glowing review, and five minutes later I was hired. You just never know.

I’ve thought about that several times over the years. I’ve seen people in their final days on the job doing everything they can to misbehave and create friction. “I don’t care! There’s no way I’ll ever work here again!”

Okay, maybe so. But how about that manager you’re going out of your way to irritate? Is it just possible she’s looking for a job also? Five years later in a completely different company, you’re minding your own business when the boss says, “Meet your new manager.” It happens.

Whether it’s jobs or personal relationships, emotions can run high as things come to an end. It’s tempting to speak our mind, put people in their place, and walk away feeling victorious. But all too often, our indignation is directed at the wrong people, or for the wrong reasons. And it has a way of coming back at the worst possible time.

Life isn’t always fair. Things happen that we don’t deserve, and there will always be some people who can only advance themselves at the expense of somebody else. It may feel good to give them a piece of our mind, but it rarely changes the outcome. And when it does, it usually makes bad matters worse.

“Before you speak, count to ten.” Sound familiar? Here’s another one. Before you send off that flaming email, shut down your computer and have lunch. Better yet, sleep on it. When you come back, if you still think it’s the right thing to do, then hit “Send.” But odds are you’ll realize your sanity is worth more than any cheap shot you could deliver in the heat of the moment.

I’d like to tell you the good guy always wins, but that’s not how it really works. At least not in the present tense. But over the long haul, the mindset that drives you to maintain a sense of dignity and decorum will serve you well. You’ll never regret leaving a job (or a relationship) on good terms. If for no other reason, do it for yourself. You’ll be living with that person a long time.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved