You Really Don’t Have To Know It All

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

For somebody who has spent his entire life working around computers and high-tech systems, and writing more than more than 20,000 pages of detailed text on how those systems work, I’m a complete moron when it comes to the systems I use at home. I know how to turn the TV on (most times), I can change a channel (I’m that good), and I can log onto the internet. That’s it.

If you thought I was making this up, my wife would quickly step in and set you straight. She uses features on her phone I didn’t even know mine has. She’s even better than the grandkids, and that’s saying a lot. They’re not allowed to play with my phone because, unless they take it back to the home screen, I might as well toss it in the trash. It’ll never work again – until they fix it.

Most times, it’s not an issue. Unless I want to change the TV from Roku back to cable or watch a movie on the Blu-Ray player. We have four remotes for the TV and associated gadgets, and they work like the combination lock at Fort Knox. Everything has to be done in just the right order, or the TV screen goes blank with a flashing message that says, “Let the kids give it a try.”

I’m trying to get mobile internet in the RV, and I would learn just as much by reading the page in Mandarin. Basically, here’s what I’ve been able to figure out:

  1. It’ll cost more than my house and RV payment combined.
  2. I can use high-speed internet for 16 minutes.
  3. After 16 minutes, it switches to smoke-signals.
  4. If I want an additional 16 minutes, the price quadruples.
  5. The equipment won’t be available until sometime next year.
  6. I’ll get kicked off the internet every time it rains.
  7. If we watch TV, we’ll run out of data on the first commercial.

Exaggeration, you say? Then we’re not reading the same contract. And I know if I walk into the Mobile Internet for Dummies Store, they’ll take one look at me and start planning their vacation to Tahiti. There’s a reason I don’t talk to automotive mechanics. Anything I say can and will be used against me in the final repair estimate. I didn’t even know my car had a fragistat.

We all like to think we’re pretty knowledgeable, and I believe most of us know a little more than we think. Except my oldest grandson. He still needs to come down a notch or two, but that goes with the territory. I always said technical writing is about knowing what you don’t know. Seems to me a few other people could take a page out of that book as well.

You see it in business a lot. Walls go up the moment you start talking to some people. They’re one step ahead of you. They know exactly where you’re headed, and it’s not anyplace they want to go. They’ve never tried what you’re suggesting, but they have a dozen reasons it won’t work. Why? Because they didn’t think of it first.

There is a story about a truck that got stuck under a bridge. A dozen people tried everything imaginable, and it wouldn’t budge. If only they could raise the bridge one inch. A little boy kept trying to make a suggestion, but nobody would listen. Finally, just to shut him up, the driver asked, “What’s your brilliant idea, genius?” He replied, “Let some air out of the tires.”

Sometimes we need to trust our knowledge and know that it’s enough. Other times we need to state an opinion and listen to the responses. And sometimes, we need to just be quiet and listen. If I want to learn to fly, I’m not going in there to tell the instructor how it’s done. He’s done this hundreds of times. He may know just a little more about it than I do.

If there’s something you want to teach, speak. But if there’s something you need to learn, listen. Learn from those who are have done the things you want to do. Listen to those who have gone before you. And hold your opinion until you know enough to speak. Remember these words – tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Take A Bow – You’ve Earned It!

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

The other day, my daughter had an especially challenging day with her little ones. They’re 15 months apart, and the oldest is in kindergarten, so you can fill in the blanks. Some days one is good and the other makes up for it, and the next day they switch. But every now and then, they put their minds together in a seek and destroy mission on the sanity of any adult in the house.

Now, take that and put it on steroids, and that’s the kind of day she had. At one point, she just sat at the bottom of the stairs in tears. She’d had all she could handle. My granddaughter, sensing her anguish, went to her and in the sweetest voice said, “Mommy, we’ve decided we should apologize to you for him making me do that.” Folks, that’s about as good as it gets.

I raised two daughters, and the one thing I can tell you is they never do anything wrong, at least not on their own. It was always somebody else’s fault. As Erma Bombeck observed, when the kids are upstairs and things don’t seem right, ask the girls what they’re doing and they’ll say, “Nothing.” Ask the boys and it’s, “We just threw the cat down the stairs and it was neat!”

Don’t get me wrong. I love girls. I raised two, and I still have a mostly full head of hair. It’s gray, mind you … completely. But I wear that as a badge of honor. Still, with two grandsons, I can definitely see a difference. Boys are a little less emotional about getting into trouble. They’ll confess to just about anything. Unless they get into politics, and then all bets are off.

I think as a parent, one of the things I tried to instill in my daughters the most was a sense of accountability. Not responsibility – that just means you were supposed to do something, and you didn’t. But accountability means the buck stops here. It means I screwed up and I’ll take the heat for it. Nobody made me do it – I did it all on my own. Now, can I have my phone back?

Accountability also works the other way. It means, “I did the work. While everybody else was out playing, I made the sacrifices and I made this happen. I’ve earned the reward.” That’s a hard pill for most of us to swallow. It sounds self-indulgent, and nobody likes a showoff. If you blew it, we expect a detailed commentary ending in a formal apology. Otherwise, keep it to yourself.

And I think that’s why so many people have a problem with success. Oh, we love winning. We just have a problem with the entitlement that goes with it. “Well, things just worked out, I guess. It could have just as easily gone the other way. I just got lucky.” That last one is my personal favorite. It implies that you did nothing to influence the outcome – it just happened.

We expect accountability from our kids when they step out of line, and hopefully we’re leading by example. “Well, kids, we have to move. The bank is taking the house because I lost my job. It’s not my fault the boss can’t handle a little criticism. He needs to toughen up!”

Most of us do a better job than that. And I doubt we’d accept such an excuse from one of our kids. We need to teach them a sense of accountability. We need to instill a sense of humility as well. But we should also teach them that it’s okay to be proud of their accomplishments. And that begins by allowing ourselves to feel a little pride as well.

We’ll never work very hard to accomplish anything if it doesn’t give us some sense of fulfillment. To accomplish great things, you must first accept that you are deserving of great things. We can be gracious and proud at the same time. And it’s the combination of those two characteristics that will set a positive example for others as they also celebrate your success.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Draw Your Own Line … Then Step To The Other Side

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

You know how something can be both good and bad at the same time? Like ice cream. I love ice cream. So does the bathroom scale. It welcomes each and every new pound with a flashing red light that says, “Hey, fat boy!” Okay, that was actually my grandson. He’s four. If my scale could speak, it would probably use a few other words. And it’s old enough to know better.

I have an office in my basement. That’s where I work every day. My car is getting like three months to the gallon. Seriously, it’s still got the same gas that was in it in December. The basement is quiet, for the most part, and pretty free of distractions. But it’s cold. Have you ever heard that cold air seeks the lowest point in the house? It’s true. I’ve done the research.

One of the nice things about working in the basement is I can tend to the laundry. When a buzzer goes off, it’s time for a short break. On the other hand, working in the basement means I can tend to the laundry. I’m already here, so that excuse goes right out the window.

I realized last week that, for the past two months, I’ve been working six feet from a refrigerator with four bottles of water and 32 bottles of beer. I think my priorities are a little messed up, especially since most of that beer has been in there at least three years. Does beer have an expiration date? I think as long as it foams up and doesn’t taste like vinegar, it’s okay.

Life is a matter of choices, not only in the things we say and do, but in the way we view the world in which we live. Take beer, for instance. I like beer. Beer likes me. What’s not to like? You know, aside from the extra calories, the feeling of sluggishness, and the fact that you’re not allowed to drive? So, we make responsible choices. We wait till bedtime so we can wake up refreshed. Right.

Okay, now you know why that beer has been sitting there for three years. Priorities change. It seemed like a good idea when I bought it. Kinda like ice cream. Except around here, ice cream doesn’t last three years. It lasts about three days. But I can down a whole bowl of ice cream in six minutes flat, and drive to the store for more. I just have to keep buying bigger pants.

For most things we do, there are benefits and consequences. The benefit may be nothing more than satisfying your taste buds or sipping a cool drink at the end of a long day. And the consequences may be nothing more than a slightly larger waistline or waking up with a mild headache. It’s all about balance. A little of the fun stuff mixed with equal parts of self-control.

That self-control may come in the form of two scoops instead of three, one beer instead of six, or letting the laundry sit until the meeting is over. It could mean mowing the lawn before you head to the lake. It might mean helping the kids with their homework when the big game is on. And it could mean getting out of that recliner to build a little more enjoyable future.

You can have anything you want, as long as you’re willing to give something up for it. And what you have to give up is pretty much in line with what you hope to gain. I was talking to a young comedian years ago about the challenges of income on the road. He said, “Sure, I want to be a star, but I’m not willing to live on the road if it means giving up my hair mousse and gel.”

Okay, for most of us the trade-off is a little more realistic, but it’s still a part of everything we do. I can build a better future, but that means I have to work. And I can sit on the porch and watch cars drive by, but that means giving up that brighter future. I can make either of those choices, or I can create a mix of my own. But I can’t have all the good with none of the work.

And even then, we have to accept the good with the bad. I love my new RV, but it takes work to keep it on the road. I love my job, but it means working when I’d rather take a day off. And I love my business, but there are parts I’d gladly pay somebody else to do.

The secret lies in finding that balance in which you give up just enough to have the things you want. It’s a line only you can draw. And once you step over that line, things begin to happen. Just make sure they’re the things you want.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Failure Is the First Part of Success

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

Mom always said three things in life are certain – death, taxes, and my grandson asking me to make him some eggs. Okay, that last one is a recent twist on an old saying, but you get the picture. We have the grandkids twice a week, and the little guy loves his eggs. Or he loves getting Grandpa off his butt to cook. I’m not really sure which takes precedence.

My granddaughter leans toward getting me into the kitchen so she can curl up in my spot on the couch. I always offer her breakfast, but she passes. The nap is more important. Except last week when she waited until I turned the stove off and then came in and said, “I changed my mind.” Girls are allowed to do that. I don’t tell her that, but those are the rules. My wife says so.

I was born to be a grandpa. I saw a tee shirt once that said, “If I’d known grandchildren would be so much fun, I’d have had them first.” That pretty well sums it up. They really are more fun. That probably has something to do with the fact that we can send them home. That and the fact we’re too tired to supervise every single move they make. That’s their mother’s job.

Also, I’ve got 20 years of experience in this role. With your own kids, you learn as you go. Kinda like an airline pilot making his first landing in a Cessna. It’s usually not pretty. I took flying lessons, and I’ll never forget the landing that set my feet permanently on the ground. And to this day, that plane blames me for every problem it’s ever had.

But with grandkids, we’ve already made a lot of the mistakes. We’ve had time to look back and realize that what we once thought was a big deal isn’t worth the tears. Maybe that’s because we’ve been through the teenage years, so we have a little more perspective on just how bad it can get. Either way, we mellow with age. “Oh, so he took the car for a spin. He didn’t hurt it.”

Okay, that last one was just for fun, because I have a strict rule about preschoolers driving my cars. I taught their mother to drive, so I know the stupid things they can do. They’re not even allowed in the front of the RV when it’s parked, because they think it’s a playground. You don’t even want to turn the key after they’ve been up there.

So, we make rules, but some of those rules are a lot more lenient than they were with our own kids. I think that’s normal. Part of it is realizing the kids really aren’t hurting anything, and part is realizing you never really liked that vase to begin with. In less time than you’d spend polishing it just once, you can sweep up the broken pieces and be done with it.

Don’t get me wrong. Rules are important, and kids need some boundaries. But, where our own kids got stuck with a set of rookie parents, our grandkids get the benefit of age and experience. And that’s okay. Our own parents were first timers as well and look at how we turned out. Okay, maybe that’s a bad analogy. I was the guy my high school class voted “Most likely to serve time.” Ha! Fooled them!

The thing is, we learn from our mistakes. We learn that feelings are more important than spilled milk, and that we’re going to replace that new sofa at some point anyway. Sure, teach them to be careful, but don’t expect miracles. They will make mistakes. They will have accidents. And they will talk back. It’s all part of growing up. And so is eating soap, in case you were wondering.

And here’s the thing – you’re still growing, too. You may think you’ve reached full maturity, but as long as you’re still breathing, you’re still learning. And that means you’re still making mistakes, spilling milk, and talking back. Hopefully you don’t make yourself eat soap, but most of us are pretty hard on ourselves when we fall short of perfection. And that happens a lot.

So, ask yourself the same questions you’d ask your kid. Did you mean to mess up? Did you at least try to do it right? Do you know what you did wrong? If so, you know how to make it better the next time. And that’s the key to getting through life – try your best now and get it right the next time.

Give yourself the same chance you’d give your kids (or your grandkids). Give yourself a little compassion. And most of all, give yourself permission to fail. Because it’s in failing that we learn to succeed.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Opportunity Doesn’t Always Look the Way You’d Imagined

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

It’s been a while since I received any of those emails informing me that a long lost relative I never knew departed this life and left behind millions of dollars just for me. I’m beginning to think I missed my one big chance to be rich. I don’t even get the ones telling me “This is nobody you know, but I found a loophole in the law and we can still share in his riches.” I’m bummed.

And then there were the emails telling me I could get Viagra without a prescription, for a fraction of the normal price, from a website in Nigeria. Okay, maybe I’m confusing the scams. But what I want to know is, exactly what did I do to get on that email list? I even got a few for breast enhancements. Did they even look at my picture? I’m good. Trust me.

I don’t receive many of those emails anymore. I guess they ran out of Viagra, and rich people stopped dying in Nigeria. Come to think of it, that may be more than just coincidence. Maybe people live longer when they don’t … you know. But don’t quote me on that. I’m no expert. I don’t even play one on TV.

We do live in a time where things aren’t always as they appear. Job offers come out of the blue, and right away they ask for your bank information so they can deposit your paychecks directly. I’m all for easy money, but let’s at least get the preliminaries out of the way first. You know, like what is the job and where is your company? I only look stupid.

On the other hand, how intelligent is it to go to that much effort to steal the banking information from somebody who’s desperate enough to fall for an online job scam? Odds are, you won’t get much more than forty-two cents out of that account, and that’s only there because ATMs don’t dispense change. If they did, the account would already be empty.

Sadly, there are a lot of people in this world who would rather use their energy figuring out ways to bilk unsuspecting, hardworking people out of the money they’ve earned than to go earn some money themselves. I often wondered how many people fall for these scams. But it only takes a few. Throw enough bait in the lake and sooner or later you’ll catch something.

That’s why we tend to be so leery of opportunity that we let some good ones slip right through our fingers. More accurately, we look the other way without even thinking about it. And, for good reason. Some of those opportunities make the Brooklyn Bridge look like a worthy investment.

But every now and then, a good one comes along. And if it looks and smells the way we thought a great opportunity should look and smell, we jump on it. The problem is expectations don’t always match reality. What we think we’re looking for doesn’t exist, and what we’re really looking for is completely different than we thought it would be.

As the realtor pulled up in front of our house, my wife was reading the listing to me. Only one bathroom. Why are we even looking at this one? But we were here, so we took a closer look. Behind the refrigerator I saw a closet door. When I opened the door, there were stairs to a finished basement that wasn’t even mentioned in the listing. We’ve been living here 18 years.

Things aren’t always as they appear. Sometimes we have to take a closer look. One of my favorite quotes comes from Thomas Dewar, who said, “Minds are like parachutes – they only work when they’re open.” I’m not sure that means much to somebody whose parachute didn’t open, but the rest of us should probably give it some thought.

An open mind keeps us from jumping into something we should have avoided, and it’s that same open mind that can let us see the promise in opportunities we may never have considered. Every author knows the secret to selling books is an attractive cover. But some of the most successful books of all time had a plain cover with a simple title.

When something looks too good to be true, take a step back. But don’t discount it entirely. Dig deeper. Talk to people who have found success instead of those who never tried. Look beyond your premonitions to see what’s really there. It may be nothing. It may be a disaster waiting to happen. And it may just be the answer to your prayers. There’s only one way to find out.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Can’t Have Green Grass Without a Little Bit of Poop

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

You know how you buy something, hoping you’ll never need it, but you think it’s a good idea anyway? Like car insurance. Nobody wants to use car insurance. We hope we’ll never need it. But it’s one of those necessary evils. Too bad the deductible is more expensive than the window some idiot shot out with a BB gun. For that matter, it’s more than the value of the whole car.

Well, I got through the weekend without having to call a claims adjuster. But I do remember telling my wife about a month ago that we should buy a first aid kit for the RV. Because, accidents happen. Especially when a clod like me is walking along, looking down at the ground, completely oblivious to the bedroom slide that’s sticking out right in front of his head. WHAM!!!

I didn’t knock myself out, but I did have to re-level the coach after I picked myself up. It’s not like I hit the corner from not stepping far enough to the side. That would be too easy. No, I walked right into this thing full speed ahead. There’s a gear track along the side that’s used for opening and closing the slide. The top of my head has six perfectly spaced holes to match that gear.

On a positive note, it did get me out of making the bed that morning. Small victory, but that’s a tough job. You’d think somebody would invent some kind of tongs to grab the sheets and blanket and tuck them into a crevice three feet beyond the reach of any normal human being. I’m thinking a fireplace poker may get the job done. But only if she’s not watching.

Right about now, some of you are racing through your brain to come up with some kind of bed-making solution that every RV owner on the planet will pay big bucks to buy. All I ask is that you send me a free prototype since I’m the one who gave you the idea.

The whole purpose of this outing was to simply run the coach through its paces, make sure everything works, and figure out what we still need to buy. I did get it weighed yesterday, and we’ve got another 1200 pounds to go before we start overloading the suspension. I’m not sure how that translates into shopping dollars, but I have a feeling we’ll find out.

One thing I haven’t been able to figure out yet is our dog. He loves to go for a walk, and he marks every tree, shrub, stop sign, fire hydrant, and tall weed along the way. No inhibitions whatsoever. Until it’s time to poop. He still hasn’t figured out that it’s okay to do that on a leash. Well, not ON the leash, but you get the idea. I’m thinking a fireplace poker … never mind.

Yes, with men it all comes down to fires and the implements that allow us to create and exercise dominion over them. With my wife, it’s about placemats and bedspreads and napkins and rugs and vacuum cleaners and how do I manage to track in so much dirt every time I walk inside? Um, because it’s there. Duh!

Every new adventure comes with new challenges, new joys, new heartaches, and apparently, the occasional injury. The alternative, of course, is to never try anything different. But that means never knowing what might have been. Every married couple tried something new. Every parent took a risk. Everybody who has ever been employed gave it a shot.

Life is about opening doors to see what’s on the other side. It’s about setting goals and chasing dreams. And it’s about accepting the risk that things won’t always be just perfect. But it’s in those moments of imperfection that we find a spark of creativity to solve life’s most difficult challenges. Like making a bed that was never intended to be made.

Unless we’re willing to accept those moments of imperfection and the risks they present, we’re destined to stay right where we are for the remainder of our lives. To most of us, that’s a risk we’re not willing to take. We do want more. We want to accomplish more. And the only way to do that is to stretch your boundaries and try something completely new.

You were born to thrive, not just survive. Make the most of every moment, and never let an opportunity slip past. It may not be the opportunity you were hoping for, but it may be just the one you need. And isn’t that what really matters?

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Are You Moving Forward or Running Back?

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

It’s the first day of May and, according to some loosely defined timelines, today is the day things start to get back to normal. It’s not an official day of change. It’s more like when your mom said, “Maybe someday in a month or two …” That automatically becomes the first day of next month. I learned to tell my kids it’ll never happen. That saved a lot of whining later.

I can appreciate all these people marching on the Capitol, telling the world they want to go back to work. We do need to work. Only problem is, I’ve seen a lot of these people on the other side of the office doors. It’s like those idiots racing through traffic every morning. You know they’re not that energetic once they get there. They just want the first cup of coffee.

We went to the store last night, and it’s disheartening how many people are completely ignoring the recommendations of preventive health. It’s like this never even happened. The rules of social distancing are out the window, and masks are seen almost as a sign of weakness. It’s like trying to get teenagers to wear a seat belt. “Not me! I’m Superman!!!”

I think every parent has had problems with that, especially when it comes to toddlers. They watch how the seat belt works, and then it becomes a conquest to see how quickly they can open it up. It’s not even about freedom – it’s about proving they can do whatever they want. I solved that problem fast. I carry a staple gun in the car and dare them to even try.

It’s too bad we can’t do that in the grocery store. A six-foot baseball bat would drive home the message. Same thing in traffic. I always wondered if we could replace the airbag in a steering wheel with a spring-loaded boxing glove. Do something stupid and a light starts flashing. Do it again and it beeps. Strike three, you’re out. Wham!

My car has lane change assist, interactive cruise control, and rear blindspot detection, among other things. Basically, the car watches the road for me so I don’t have to. With all those added features, I guess I couldn’t complain if it whacked me in the face for being stupid. So, I just let my grandson drive. He deserves a good punch.

The RV, on the other hand, doesn’t have any of those features. It has a horn – a really loud horn. And 24,000 pounds that says I make the rules. People don’t jump in front of me and slam on their brakes. And if I drift out of my lane a bit, they move. Oh, I get the finger every now and then, but I’m used to that. Only difference is, they wait until they’re safely out of reach to do it.

Yes, life is slowly starting to get back to normal. As normal as it’ll ever be, that is. Parents will be back to work, kids will be outside playing, and grocery shopping will be more like a road rally than a game of dodgeball. And in exactly three weeks, people will be calling in sick, kids will be whining that there’s nothing on TV, and grocery shopping will turn into a demolition derby.

Why? Because no matter how badly we want things to change, we fight even harder to get back where we were. There was a book titled, “Who Moved My Cheese?” I’ve never read the book, but apparently it’s an amusing account of our resistance to change. We spend half our lives chasing the rainbow, and the other half trying to get back.

Before I left for the Navy, my dad told me the two best duty stations in the world are the one you’re going to, and the one you just left. Oh, we want change. Until it happens. The vast majority of lottery winners go bankrupt in a just a few years. One day they’re multi-bazillionaires and the next day they’re posting “his and hers” Lamborghinis on eBay.

We all want change. We want to be happier, we want nicer things, and we want a more comfortable life. Yet, no matter how badly we want those things to change, we have a certain level of comfort in the way things are – knowing what to expect and how to deal with it when it happens. We want everything around us to change, as long as we can stay the same.

Well, change is coming. Some of it will be good, some will be a challenge, and some will be a boomerang ride back to where we started. With every crisis comes opportunity, the chance to come out a little better than we went in. It’s what we make of that opportunity that counts. You can move ahead, or simply go back to where you were. And decision time is here.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved