Life Doesn’t Always Go the Way You’d Planned – That’s a Good Thing

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

The past few days have been a whirlwind. We buried my dad on Saturday, ending a monthlong saga that began with a visit to the doctor and took us through uncharted territory as we figured out all the details of coordinating two funeral homes, transporting him back home, and gathering friends and relatives in the time of Covid. But other than the freezing cold, it was a fitting memorial to a great man.

I wish I could say it’s all behind us, but it’s not. I’ve been down this road before. His birthday is coming up in a month. Every first holiday will bring memories. All the times we would normally get together will be a painful reminder that those days are gone. And, as we finalize the details of his estate, every little step will bring an onslaught of emotions. But we’ll get there. And with each day, it’ll get a little easier.

Life is supposed to prepare us for times like this, and I guess in ways we can’t fully understand, it does. Going through it reminded me of my first several times onstage, where I was running on pure adrenaline. The show itself is pretty much a blur, and afterward you can barely remember anything that happened. Okay, that happened for the first several years. But you get the point.

Life often seems like a boring cycle of repetition, where we do the same things every day, with just a few changes. But every day we do certain things for the first time ever. Maybe nothing as exciting as jumping out of an airplane, but even the things that feel repetitive are laced with first-time variations. I cook that way on purpose. Sure, sometimes it goes in the garbage. But therein lies the sense of adventure.

It’s easy to fall into that mindset where you think nothing ever changes, but every day brings new challenges and adventures. At least that’s what the boss calls them. A former manager used to call me into his office and say, “Dave, I have an opportunity for you!” What that meant was something needed to be done, and he wasn’t going to do it. And more often than not, there was nothing exciting about it.

But when we dig a little deeper, most of the things we do are laced with elements that require a little more thought than simply stirring the sauce. You make the same phone calls you make every day, and then somebody comes up with a new question. A bolt snaps off and you have to get creative about removing it. You run out of red paint and have to improvise.

In my business, we often say it’s all about duplication – just figure out what works and do it every day. But there’s a lot more to it than lather, rinse, and repeat. Every day we run into new scenarios that either challenge our thinking or add something to it. And it’s a good thing, too, because otherwise it would get pretty boring.

As a comedian, I loved being onstage. With very few exceptions, I started every show expecting to rock the house. But anybody who’s been there can tell you it doesn’t always work that way. You get halfway into your best joke and forget a line. A waitress drops a tray of drinks. A drunk in the back keeps yelling “Git ‘er done!” And that’s just in the first five minutes.

But you know, if I went onstage night after night and there were never any surprises, my comedy career would have lasted a few months at most. If I knew exactly what to expect every day on the job, I’d be looking for something else to do. And if I knew every call I made in my business would follow a scripted two-way dialogue to the letter, I’d get bored pretty fast.

The more we do something, the easier it becomes. And the more surprises we handle, the easier they become. You train your mind to think of solutions instead of memorizing a script. I had no idea how to go about shipping my dad back to Ohio. But I knew I could figure it out. And that sense of confidence is what allows us to navigate some of life’s most challenging moments with a sense of calm purpose.

It’s said that practice makes perfect, but we learn so much more from things we try for the very first time and those that don’t go according to plan. Mistakes will be made, and that’s all part of it. But when all is said and done, we’re better for having made those mistakes, and much better equipped to handle whatever pops up next.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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