It's the Cards You Play That Make a Winning Hand

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

I made muffins for my little ones today. I know, I’m such a nice grandpa. Go ahead, you can say it. On days when my daughter works, she drops them off early (really early) and my grandson has learned that it’s my job to make breakfast. Usually he wants eggs. Sometimes with bacon, sometimes with sausage. And other times I get away with dressing them with a little cheese and a piece of toast.

I’ve always been amazed at how quickly kids learn. You know, the one-plus-one stuff and how to spell their own name. But along with the three Rs, they figure out pretty quickly how to game the system. If you want a hot breakfast, you put in your order early. If you want Grandpa to customize the menu, you climb up in his lap and give him a hug. That’s all they’ve got, so they put it to good use.

One of the greatest lessons we will ever learn is to play the hand we’re dealt. Kids learn it from the time they figure out how to stick out their bottom lip and well up with tears. Until you’re earning more money than your parents, that’s the best thing in your arsenal. My oldest daughter did it when she was six minutes old. I told her it wouldn’t work, but I’ll let you in on a little secret – it does.

Well, sticking my bottom lip out doesn’t seem to work anymore. When I told my wife my job was coming to an end, she had all kinds of questions. “Did you do something wrong? Were you socializing too much? Did you swipe the last cup of coffee and sneak away without making a fresh pot?” No, it’s just business. They don’t need me anymore. “Well, did you at least stick your bottom lip out?”

That’s why I could never be a cop. Somebody blows through a school zone at twice the legal speed, past buses with their lights flashing, and it’s off to the races. This guy is going to jail! But when you get to the car, it’s not the teenage daredevil you expected. It’s a young woman with a baby in the back seat, tears streaming down her face. Like that’s gonna work. Then she sticks out her bottom lip. Damn.

It’s too bad we don’t use that same strategy when it comes to battling the odds to get something we really want. I’m not talking about climbing up in Grandpa’s lap and tugging at his heart strings – this is about using our skills to achieve our goals. It’s about overlooking our weaknesses and focusing on our strengths. It’s about acknowledging that our greatest strength is our ability to overcome weakness.

How many times have you heard somebody whine about their age? “I’d love to do that, but I’m just too old!” “I wish I could do that, but I’m not old enough.” Okay, get a clue. Unless you’re trying to buy liquor next-door to a police station, age isn’t holding you back from anything. It’s an excuse. And it’s a good one, because nobody can ever argue your age. Especially when your hair is as gray as mine.

Age is one of those things we can’t change, and the best excuses in the world are the ones over which we have no control. When the kids are little, it’s easy. “We can’t afford that.” Case closed. Until they get a little older and you tell them money is not a limited resource, and if they want more all they have to do is earn it. “You mean you lied about those sneakers?” Busted!

No matter what it is you’d like to accomplish, you can come up with a dozen excuses for not getting it done. Or, you can play the hand you were dealt, make use of the things that work in your favor, and quit worrying about the rest. You can lose weight. You can get a better job. You can move to another state. What you can’t do is sit there and complain.

So, climb up in Grandpa’s lap, stick your bottom lip out, and then ask him to teach you how to make your own breakfast. You stand a better chance of getting what you want and, once you learn how, you can do it again any time you feel the urge. Breakfast, or life? You decide.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Happiness Is Yours To Enjoy – But You Gotta Want It

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

When was the last time you met a truly happy person? Okay, let me re-phrase that … when was the last time you met a truly happy person over the age of six, but young enough to still have all their marbles? It doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. And when it does, we become immediately suspicious. “Oh no, she’s about to invite me to church! Or worse yet, an Amway meeting!”

Don’t believe me? The next time you see somebody walking through the office, smiling at everyone and softly humming a Disney song at their desk, write down the first thought that comes to mind. Promotion? Morning whoopee? Liquid lunch? The boss just got fired? We can come up with all kinds of explanations, but could it be remotely possible they’re just happy? Nah!

We all like to think we’re relatively pleasant people, that we exude a certain level of happiness that draws people in. Then along comes somebody who’s so over-the-top bubbly that you just want to stuff a rag in their mouth. “Take your happiness out the front door and share it with God’s little creatures! There are people trying to sleep in here!”

Whether we’ll admit it or not, most of us tend to embrace misery just a bit too much. Oh, we try. We may even wake up and try to convince ourselves that today will be the best day ever. But then we get to work and find out somebody swiped the last cup of coffee and couldn’t be bothered to start a new pot. Oh, it’s on now!

I can look past some idiot diving in front of me at the exit ramp or finding a strange car in “my” parking spot, but you don’t mess around when it comes to coffee. How hard is it to dump the old grounds, put in a fresh pack, and press the “Brew” button? Sure, there’s decaf. There’s always decaf. And I’m not drinking it. If God can take the time to put caffeine in my coffee, the least I can do is drink it that way.

Then you get to your desk and find that report you worked late to give the boss sitting on your desk with more red ink than a congressional budget. Your trash can isn’t where it belongs, your computer keeps locking up, the microwave is broken, and just who has been messing with the thermostat? It’s freezing! Somebody is obviously out to ruin your perfect day.

Let’s face it, if you want to feel miserable, life will hand you plenty of excuses. As the old expression goes, stuff happens. Well, something like that. Things will never be just perfect. So, how is one person smiling while you’re miserable? Maybe they got that last cup of coffee, and that’s why they don’t notice how cold it is. They probably tweaked the thermostat, too. The nerve of some people!

Happiness isn’t a state of nature, or even a state of reality. It’s a state of mind. You will never be more happy than you choose to be. Read that again, because it’s important. Notice, I didn’t say you’ll always be as happy as you choose to be. Things will happen, sometimes really bad things, and they can destroy your happiness in an instant. But how quickly we reclaim that happiness is up to us.

The key is to just keep things in perspective. So what if the coffee pot is empty? At least you’ll get a fresh cup. And no, it’s not okay to skim off a cup while the pot is brewing, because you’ll get all the good stuff and leave dishwater for everyone else. And that report on your desk? Just fix it. It’s not like anybody is docking your pay. And think how much better you’ll feel when it’s done.

We spend our lives in the pursuit of happiness, but all too often we overlook the happiness that’s already there. You can smile in the sunshine or rain, and even when adversity tries to steal that smile, only you can decide when it’s time to bring it back out. Challenges will always be there. But to the degree that you can meet those challenges, happiness is yours to enjoy. So, make the most of it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Can Always Find Time – It's How You Use It That Counts

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

It’s Monday, and you know what that means. Bouncing out of bed, eyes aglow with anticipation, and a protein smoothie to start the day. Yeah. That’s how my day starts. Don’t ask my wife, just take my word for it. Okay, okay. It’s more like slumping out of bed, eyes half-shut, feet trudging, and six extra cups of coffee. If you’re lucky, that’ll keep you awake till the 10:00 meeting.

But let me ask you this. What did you do over the weekend that was so much better than Monday? Be honest. You did laundry, you went grocery shopping, you cleaned the house, you watched reruns of movies you didn’t even watch twenty years ago, and you yelled at the kids for not “enjoying” the weekend as much as you. Are their rooms clean yet? I rest my case.

Don’t get me wrong. I know some people who live it up on the weekend. Alcohol may or may not be involved, but they don’t waste a minute bemoaning the fact that it’s only two days long. There are places to go, people to see, and things to do. Fun things. And guess what? The whole time they’re out of the house, the mess isn’t getting a bit worse. Unless they have a cat. Cats love to mess things up.

These are the people who spend a few hours during the week doing the stuff that seems to consume an entire weekend for the rest of us. They pick up a few things around the house, run a vacuum cleaner, wash a load of laundry, and do the grocery shopping before Friday. Then, when the weekend comes, they have all kinds of time to sit around and complain that there’s nothing to do.

Okay, let’s keep this in perspective. First of all, if they’re like most of us, they pick things up and pile them in a closet. They keep the kids off the carpet while they’re running the vacuum so they can track in stuff from the other rooms as soon as it’s done. They wash a load of laundry, forget to throw it in the dryer, then wash it again tomorrow (and the next day). And, like, grocery shopping is EVER done?

This is why for most of us, as soon as we think of something we’d like to accomplish, that built-in excuse pops up like a Jack-in-the-box. “I don’t have time!” We like that one. It can be used in any situation, whether it’s cleaning the garage, planting flowers, writing a book, or drying the clothes we just washed. We’re just too busy. “Woe is me! You have no idea how little time I’ve got!”

Well, get over yourself. We all get 168 hours each week. Except that one week in March when we only get 167 hours, and boy do we love to complain about that one. We’ll milk that lost hour for a whole week. “You don’t understand. I’m tired enough as it is, and then to lose an hour of sleep in the middle of the weekend?” Funny, we sure don’t make up for it in November. “It’s too cold!”

If there’s something you really want to do, you’ll make time for it. Whether that means an hour here and there through the week, or eight hours on the weekend. You rearrange, you set things aside, you turn off the TV, and prioritize what’s most important. And you do it for one simple reason – there’s something you want more than to spend the rest of your life complaining about short weekends.

All it takes is a goal – a vision of something more pleasant than two days of whining about how tired you are as you catch up on all the other things you couldn’t find time for during the week. Whether that vision is as simple as two days of curling up with a good book, or as ambitious as retiring to the beach twenty years early, it’s not hard to find something worthy of that extra hour in the evening.

Excuses come easy when there’s something we really don’t want to do. Oh, we want the result – just not the effort that goes into it. So, here’s my challenge for the week. Find something you want. Focus on it. Get pictures. Then see if you can find one hour in the evenings to do something about it. If you want something badly enough, the time is there. It’s how you use that time that counts.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don't Take Flying Lessons From Somone Who's Afraid of Heights

Good morning, and happy Friday! We’ve made it!!! I hope your day is off to a great start.

I’ve been trying to learn a little more about Facebook and how to build a page that will provide more features than just a simple profile. In other words, I’m about to take what’s been working so far and mess it up completely. And to help me do that, I’m reading Facebook Marketing for Dummies – 2014 edition. Because, you know … technology never changes. Besides, I’m too cheap to buy the new book.

For somebody who’s spent the past twenty years working in the IT community, you’d think I’d be just a little more adept when it comes to things like social media, the TV remote, and adding contacts to a cell phone. Well, you’d be wrong. What’s the opposite of a techno-weenie? Whatever it is, that’s me. And no, I don’t have a flip phone. But I can make a long-distance call on a rotary dial, so there!

New ideas are hard to handle sometimes. We get into a comfort zone and, though we may despise that existence more and more by the day, we look for any reason not to change. We’ll even recruit a team of nay-sayers to craft a rock-solid excuse for why we shouldn’t even consider taking that next step. People who, you know, have never taken that step themselves. But, boy do they know!

I listen to motivational CDs a lot. Most of you already know that. I read motivational books as well. Yes, you can say it. I need a life. Because we all know the only thing better than trying to make your own life better is to read books about fictional people who have it all. Great looks, sculpted body, a billion dollars, and a slightly twisted notion of romance. Who has time for that motivational babble?

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with “romance” novels, and I can see their appeal in terms of fueling our unspoken fantasies. I’ve read Fifty Shades (okay, most of the first book) and I’ve watched the movies. And I have to be honest. I’m much more interested in his cars and helicopter than his red room of pain. Yes, ladies, typical male response. And the last time I checked … well, never mind.

But with anything in life, whether it’s building a boat, flying a plane, succeeding in business, or learning how the latest intimate “toys” work, we all need some basis of knowledge before we’re ready to dive in. And it’s usually best to gain that knowledge from somebody who knows what they’re talking about. You know, somebody who’s used those toys or flown that plane.

It amazes me the number of times I’ve talked to people about starting their own business and, before we can even schedule an evening to really chat, they call back and say, “Well, I don’t know if this is gonna work. I talked to my mom, and she said …” You know the rest. Well, here’s my first question. How did that particular business work for your mom?

In an interview years ago, media magnate Ted Turner talked about a failed attempt at running a boatbuilding business. When asked what he learned from that experience he said, “I learned that I don’t build boats very well.” He didn’t say boatbuilding is a dead industry. He didn’t even say business ownership is for suckers. He simply said that wasn’t his niche. So, he found something that was.

How often do we seek advice from people who have no idea how to do what we’re thinking about doing? How often do they offer up that advice for free? It doesn’t matter what you’re considering, there are hundreds of “experts” who will give you dozens of reasons it’ll never work. So, here’s a novel idea … find somebody who’s making it work. See what they have to say about it.

I’m reading a book about how to build a new Facebook page because I don’t know all the ins and outs of doing it right. And, by this time next week, that new page will be up and running. Every day, people in my own family poo-poo on the idea of building a stronger social media presence. So, I don’t go to them for advice. I’m getting information from people who know how to make it work.

Whatever it is you want to do, unless you’re already on top of the game, odds are you could use a little help. And, as one of the speakers I’ve listened to loves to say, if you want to be a millionaire, don’t go to a thousandaire for advice. Find somebody who’s already succeeded in that endeavor and listen to what they have to say. More often than not, the advice they give will be spot-on.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Makes You So Special?

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

One of the things that amuses me most about kids is their perception of “fair.” It’s not fair they have to go to bed. It’s not fair they have to do homework while the other kids are playing. It’s not fair they have to clean their own room. It’s not fair that they only get one shot of bourbon in their sippy cup. Okay, that last one may not be entirely legal, but tell me you’ve never considered it.

As toddlers, we learn about fair play quickly. What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is mine. We share. Toys, germs, broccoli, and mom’s lipstick. Funny, mom is all about sharing until you start sifting through her purse. And the other kids? Well, it depends who’s bigger. When you’re the little guy, you share. Everyone else receives. Those are the rules.

Somehow, we carry this slanted idea of fairness into adulthood. When I joined the Navy, I didn’t think it was fair that I was always the one to clean toilets. Nobody else took their turn. I mean, they had no qualms about using those toilets, but I was the one who got stuck cleaning them. No fair!!! Okay, I never actually said that. I only look stupid. Besides, there were lots of other toilets on that ship.

But then I put a couple of stripes on my sleeve, and things changed. All of a sudden, I got to sit there and sip coffee while the new guy got stuck cleaning toilets. And the whole time his face was screaming “no fair!” I did my best to hide my smile. Fair? You bet it is! Go get yourself some stripes! That’s your job now! Until the new guy goes on vacation. Then … well, you know. “Oh, Daaave!!!”

It’s that warped sense of fairness that holds us back in real life. On the job, in relationships, in society, and in business. We expect to be treated fairly. And we may even try to set a good example, but only until somebody else gives us the shaft. “Leftovers again??? And you think I’m gonna fix the brakes on your car? Yeah, hand me the toolbox!” Okay, in my defense, she never actually hit anything.

On the other side of that equation is the notion of entitlement. You want something, some form of reward that you haven’t yet achieved. Maybe it’s a promotion or a new job. Maybe it’s a bigger house. It could be as simple as a weekend without the company cell phone, or as grand as a new boat. But, do you really deserve it? I mean, everybody else would like a little of that action, too. Right?

One of the biggest things that holds us back from reaching our full potential is the feeling that we’re no more deserving of that success than anybody else. It’s hard to look a person in the eye when they’ve been working in the same job as you for the past ten years and, two years in, you’re applying for a promotion. Why you? How is that fair to them? You almost feel guilty even trying.

No matter what it is you want to accomplish, the first thing you have to get past is that feeling that you may not deserve it. Unless you break the law or sacrifice your moral values along the way, you deserve whatever level of success you can achieve. And if you do step outside the law, you still get what you deserve. Try looking the judge in the eyes and crying, “No fair!” I dare you.

Beyond that, if you’re willing to take a risk, make the sacrifices, do the work, and put up with other people’s BS along the way, you deserve whatever your heart desires. And what about that other person? Well, they could have the same thing as you. In fact, once you achieve your goals, you can show them how. Sometimes we do more for others simply by leading the way.

There is nothing in this world that is above your level of privilege. Sure, if you were born into a “normal” family you may have to work a little harder. But that only means you’ll appreciate your success that much more. Never sell out your dreams simply because you’re not sure you’re worthy. You are. Get that in your head now, and there’s not much that can ever hold you back.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Luck Isn't Something You Trip Over

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

There’s an old tradition in show business that says when a friend is getting ready to take the stage, you never say “good luck.” Somebody, at some point in time, fell flat on their face after being the recipient of such a prayer, and decided it must be because the gods of karma turned the blessing against them. There’s no other logical explanation – certainly not a lack of talent or preparation.

So, when you want to wish your friend a strong performance, you give the karma gods something else to consider. “Break a leg!” That’s the kindest thing somebody can say as you’re taking the stage. Unless you’re as clumsy as I am. I’d rather take my chances with good luck.

One night my ankle rolled as I was taking the stage and I took a nosedive in front of a sold-out crowd. The audience thought it was part of the show. And in complete honesty, it probably got a bigger laugh than any of my jokes that night. I stood up, took the microphone, and nodding to an imaginary person backstage said, “Break a leg … thanks jackass!”

No, it wasn’t an intentional part of the show. The ligaments in my left ankle are about as strong as a politician’s conscience. It’s an old war injury. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Never mind that the country wasn’t technically at war at the time. It happened on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean when I was in the Navy. That’s all you need to know.

Bad luck? Maybe. The doctor said I would have been better off if my ankle had broken, but that’s not the way it turned out. And, since that time, I’ve learned to deal with the fact that it’ll clock out on an unauthorized break any time it feels like it. At that point, the best I can do is try to steer myself away from anything hot or sharp. Falling down is a foregone conclusion.

When somebody we know has several bad things happen in a row, we say they’ve had a run of bad luck. And when everything they touch turns to gold, we attribute that to luck as well. “Some people just have all the luck.” Yeah. Especially people who do things like, I don’t know … work, keep their eyes open to opportunities, and take a few calculated risks along the way.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you know the next sentence by heart. Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparedness. Delivering a strong performance onstage requires two things – an audience that wants to be entertained, and a performer who’s ready to deliver. And the same is true in everything we do. Opportunity and preparation. Put the two together and good things happen.

But, like any mathematical formula, the order of operations makes a world of difference in the result. If you wait for opportunity to come knocking and then try to get onboard with the preparation side of the equation, it’ll be gone before you know it. Like the six-o’clock bus, opportunity doesn’t wait for anyone. There are too many others already waiting for it to come along.

Preparation has to come first. You have to get dressed before you go to the bus stop and wait for something to come along. That habit can keep you out of jail, too. Or so I’m told. Opportunity pretty much demands that you’re ready for it. And while you’re standing on the curb in your bathrobe, the people who got dressed first are on their way to earning a paycheck. That’s just how it works.

Besides, unless you’re prepared to make the most of an opportunity, you probably wouldn’t recognize it anyway. Oh, you may see it. But you won’t be able to truly appreciate it. You’ll say things like, “That’ll never work. I have a cousin who tried that once and he’s still broke. I’ll just wait for a prettier bus to come along.” Well, guess what? There is no prettier bus coming. Get onboard or be left behind.

Opportunity knocks, but it doesn’t knock the door down. You have to leave the door open just a crack and be ready to jump on the right opportunity when it comes. Be picky, but not so picky that you spend your life waiting for a prettier bus. Sometimes, a worn-out pair of sneakers fits better than the flashy new pair. But you’ll never know unless you put your feet in and lace them up.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Embrace Your Starting Point … Even If It Sucks

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

Yesterday I went back to the gym for the first time in (inaudible mumbling) days. Okay weeks. Alright, months. Let’s just air it all out right now. It’s been less than a year, so that’s where I’m stopping. And don’t ask when I was there last because I’m not even sure the YMCA computers keep records that long. Let’s just say it’s been a while.

This isn’t part of a New Year’s resolution. It’s more about spending too many hours sitting around the house every day. And that whimper I hear from the bathroom scale every morning. Last time I stepped on it the digital display just said “ERR”. I guess that beats “OUCH” but not by much.

Add in several years of lower back pain that’s getting worse with time, and the fact that I have to pay my grandson to carry a couple of 40-pound bags of salt to the basement, and it’s painfully obvious I have to do something. The only problem is they expect you to pick those weights up by yourself, and there isn’t a motorized exercise bike in the place. Only a set of pedals. Seriously?

The treadmill would be great, but you can’t just stand there. I’ve seen too many videos of what happens when people fall behind on that device, and it’s not pretty. But there is some perverse sense of satisfaction in standing with your feet on the side rails and watching the display rack up the miles. I can burn off 6,000 calories without even breaking a sweat.

Okay, we all know it takes a little more effort than that. I joke about fitness and my weight because it beats crying about it. And I think we all need to do that a little more. There’s nothing worse than trying to get out of a yoga pose as some anorexic diva complains about her belly fat. The first step toward self-improvement is accepting yourself just as you are. Only then can you get better.

We all have our own starting point, no matter what it is we’re trying to accomplish. For some, that starting point is at least a few degrees better than most of us would be thrilled with as a final goal. And that’s okay. I can’t set their goals any more than they can set mine. We can set expectations, but those are imposed. Kind of like the boss telling you when an assignment is due.

And make no mistake, those expectations have to be met. But in terms of goals, they’re little more than a mandate by somebody who’s less interested in your priorities than their own. On the job, that’s to be expected. Needs of the company have to be met. But off the job, we need to set our own expectations. And once we’ve established those expectations, they need to become goals.

The key is to approach those goals as if you’re being paid to succeed. And in every sense of the word, you are. But ask yourself at the end of the day if you met the expectations of the job. If you were paying yourself to do this, would you still have a job tomorrow? Or would you be sitting outside the boss’ office with a herd of penguins doing a Texas two-step in your belly? Be honest.

No matter what personal goals you hope to accomplish, start with these two truths in mind. First, you are perfectly acceptable just as you are. You don’t have to measure up to anybody else’s standard. And second, you have the ability to do anything you desire. Whether it’s fitness, weight loss, improved health, a stronger relationship, or increased wealth, it’s waiting to be claimed.

The ability to laugh at your predicament is a healthy start to working toward improvement, because it means you’ve accepted the reality of that situation. You’re not kidding yourself or anybody else. From there, it’s just a matter of deciding which way you want to go. The only thing standing in your way is your own desire. Okay, and a few non-motorized exercise machines.

If you want the machines (or the world) to move, you need to do the pushing. You can do this.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved