If You Like Winning, Never Fight Change

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

It’s hard to believe the month is half over and Christmas is just over a week away. It seems we missed something this year. I think it’s all the holiday goodies people put on file cabinets in the office that I always sampled several times every day. It’s a convenient excuse for the traditional holiday weight gain. This year I got fat all on my own. Go figure.

Working from home isn’t something most of us ever really thought we’d see, at least on this scale. Some companies were warming up to the idea, partly due to a shortage of qualified workers in some career fields. A year ago, they were begging people to come to work. Then somebody sneezed, and now they’re begging us to stay home.

Our world is changing. Even before the pandemic, companies were beginning to offer “alternate work arrangements.” Stores were offering personal shopping service with curbside pickup. And people who couldn’t figure out the TV remote were ordering products and having them delivered right to their door.  I think my granddaughter was one of them. She’s six.

Malls have been shutting down and stores are looking more like warehouses. Drones deliver products, taxis drive themselves, and robots are flipping hamburgers. All of these things were in the works before Coronavirus. But what was once considered innovative is now a matter of necessity. And we’re powerless to stop it. The best we can do is hop on and enjoy the ride.

There are two kinds of thrill rides – the kind where you see what’s coming, and the kind where you’re in the dark, getting jerked around in every direction. The ride we’re on is a little of both. You don’t know everything that’s coming, but you’ve been through enough twists and turns to know what to expect. And then there are the bumper cars. They throw them in just for fun.

We may not know what to expect as we leave the station, but we know what awaits at the end. It looks pretty much the same as when we got on. Only now, we’re filled with the exhilaration of actually surviving the ride. Hopefully we’re still filled with the original contents of our stomach, but sometimes that’s part of the fun, too. “It was awesome! I almost puked!!!”

I think a lot of us have experienced that queasy feeling all through this year. We keep thinking sooner or later this will pass and things will get back to normal. Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but things will never be the same as they were. Yes, this will pass, and we’ll be better able to handle the next crisis. But most of the changes we’ve made this year will never go back.

That doesn’t mean life will never be good again. Just that it’ll never be quite the same. And it’s what we make of those changes that will determine whether we come out on top or further behind. In 1986, when Microsoft issued its first public offering of stocks, computers were still an extravagance for quirky nerds. Yet, look at us now. Can you even imagine life without one?

Had you bought into the “craze” back then, you could have gotten shares of Microsoft for $21. A single share of that stock bought back then would be worth $33,600 today. All told, more than 12,000 people became millionaires, simply because they embraced change and believed in a geek.

And here’s the point – whether you believed in 1986 that computers would someday be part of our everyday lives doesn’t change the fact that they are. We can complain all day about a simpler time when people knew how to read maps and have fun without technology. And how do we share that message? We blast it out all over the internet. Duh!!!

You see, when change occurs, we play along whether we want to or not. When a tsunami strikes, we rebuild – we just build a little higher this time. When stores close, we shop online. And when industries collapse, we learn a new skill. We adapt. Life goes on.

Our world is changing, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Some of those changes are like gentle waves, and others come crashing in like a tsunami. But much like that rollercoaster, we know how the ride ends – we step off and move on to the next adventure.

We can cope with change or grow with it. One leaves you struggling for air, and the other will set you on a mountaintop. We may not be able to control the circumstances, but we can control our response to them. The ocean floor is littered with ships that tried to plow through the waves, but the smallest of boats made it safely across by simply riding on top of them.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Change Itself Isn’t Good Or Bad – It’s What We Do With It That Counts

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

Not long ago, one of the television channels showed an episode of the Jetsons. It was fun reminiscing at all the things the show’s creators thought we’d have at some distant point in the future. Personal robots, spaceports, flying cars that fold into a briefcase. And phones that fit in your pocket. Who saw that one coming?

I still remember one of the greatest breakthroughs in communications technology … phones that came in different colors. Until then, you had three choices – black, black, or black. Next came long cords that could reach any room in the house, and then the old rotary dialer was replaced by buttons that could play Mary Had a Little Lamb. I’m not sure whose phone rang on that one, but I’m betting it was long-distance.

Sometime in the 80s, we got cordless phones. Big, bulky things with a pull-out antenna on the top, just like your old transistor radio. Remember those? You had to set the dial just right to hear your favorite channel, and then every time a good song came on, a plane would fly over, and you’d lose the signal completely. Ah, those were the good old days!

Back then, if you wanted to change the channel on the TV, you had to get up. That’s not to say we got a lot of exercise, because there were only three channels to begin with. Channel surfing was like a rodeo – it lasted eight seconds. And if the antenna wasn’t pointed just right, you got snow. That’s how teenage boys learned to watch digitally scrambled cable channels. You know the ones.

We’ve seen a lot of changes in our lives, even if you’re only 30. Think about it. Thirty years ago, people still carried pagers. Long-distance was a costly service, and cars still came with a clutch. Want to throw a teenager into a tizzy? Put them behind the wheel of a car with three pedals. And then, as some on social media have suggested, write the instructions in cursive.

Yes, we’ve come a long way. Some changes have been better than others. Personally, I like not having to budget the cost of calling somebody in a different county. But I do miss the days when you could get on a plane without a full-body scan and six episodes of the same stupid questions. “Did you pack your bags yourself?” Yes, but I did ball up my underwear. Will that be a problem?

Let’s face it, technology is changing our world even as we sit here enjoying our morning coffee. I read an article a few months ago about how some of the major retailers were moving toward a model of stores without customers. Instead of an attractive storefront, you’d have a warehouse with robots roaming the aisles. Place your order online and it gets delivered to your front door.

Which sounds great, unless you’ve ever seen my wife inspecting produce, or me looking for a pack of bacon where all the pieces are straight. Besides, who’s gonna squeeze my bread to make sure it’s fresh? At least you’d know if the robot did it for you. Right in the middle of the loaf, you’d have four slices shaped like an hourglass. No thanks.

But it’s coming, folks. And in a way, it makes sense. Stores are expensive. They have to be decorated, brightly illuminated, and kept reasonably clean. Items on special promotion have to be displayed instead of just moving them to the home page. Besides, it’s the only way they can sell the stuff nobody would buy if they saw it first. Soggy grapes? No problem. Order #34872.

Sometimes, fate has unexpected consequences. What was unacceptable a month ago is standard procedure today. And that won’t stop when this virus goes away. A lot of the changes we’ve seen are here to stay. That may be good or bad, but it won’t change the inevitable. Corporations learn fast. And once you’ve got a foot in the door, it’s that much harder to slam it shut.

We’ll adapt. We may complain a little, but in time these new ways will just become a part of life. I hope that new life doesn’t involve masks and a ban on hugging, but some of the changes may not be so bad. Let’s face it, curbside liquor delivery is pretty convenient. Maybe it’ll replace the ice cream truck. Wonder what song they’d play? Jimmy Buffet, perhaps?

The key to thriving in a changing world is to change with it. Technology is only part of the equation. The biggest challenge lies somewhere between our ears. We can accept change and go along for the ride, or we can embrace it and take the wheel. Change is inevitable. The only question is, will you make it work for you?

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Road Is Easier To Travel When You Learn How To Drive

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

Well, the weekend is over. I’d ask if you got out and did anything fun, but we all know the answer to that question. Hopefully you still enjoyed some down time. You know, cleaning the house, watching TV, breaking up fights between the kids … I have a feeling when this is all over, nobody will have a problem going back to work. “Overtime? Sure! I’ll do it for free!”

Hopefully you’re able to work anyway, but for most of us that means working in a house full of other people. Conference calls are routinely interrupted by small children, barking dogs, and people walking through the room in varying stages of undress. Let’s just say video conferencing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Especially when the camera is pointed in the wrong direction.

So far, I’ve gotten dressed every single day. Not once have I reported to work in my pajamas. That’s not so much dedication as the fact that our basement gets really cold. The air conditioner is on upstairs, and I’ve got a space heater going downstairs. And I wear shoes because … well, that floor! I’m afraid my socks would stick to it. Maybe it’s time for me to do some cleaning.

I got a little help in that department last week. You know all those images on social media of huge wads of paper towels being pulled from municipal sewers? Well, apparently my neighbors never saw that, because the city had to clean the lines out and guess where it backed up? All around my floor drain, it looked like Main Street after the parade. Try not to visualize.

You know what’s worse than cleaning up you-know-what from the basement floor, ten feet from where you work all day? Not knowing whose it is. And my lower back is so messed up I can’t bend over to pet the dog. I guess I could just sit down on … nope! Not happening! And since nobody else will do it for me, I did the best I could. That’s why God made Clorox.

Okay, enough on that. We’re all trying to deal with some inconveniences right now and figure out a new way of getting through the days. I read an article yesterday that predicted when this is over, we’ll all have to get used to a new “normal.” I don’t think there’s any denying that. The question is, what will that be? And what can we do to be better prepared the next time?

Okay, stockpiling toilet paper still seems to top that list. I can’t imagine what people are doing with it, because after all this time, the stores are still sold out. Well, they’re sold out of the good stuff. It’s easy to see where our priorities lie, because yesterday in Sam’s Club, they had six pallets loaded with their own store brand, and not a single roll of anything else.

But we have preferences. Once our tushie gets used to a certain brand and softness, we don’t want to try anything new. Especially in a 72-roll jumbo pack. What if the good stuff comes in next week? What will you do with all that store-brand paper? Well, I have a feeling teens will have no problem with that one. In a single night, it’ll be all over the police chief’s yard.

I guess what I’m saying is preparation never goes completely to waste. It may not be the answer you’d hoped for, but in a pinch you do what you have to do. In the past two weeks, 10 million people have filed for unemployment. Not because they wanted to, but because they work in an industry where working from home simply isn’t an option. That could be any one of us.

And you know, the next crisis may hit an entirely different segment of the population. Instead of a pandemic, it could be a crash of the nation’s power grid or information network, and those of us who feel pretty secure right now would be scrambling for work. If this crisis has taught us anything, it’s that it can happen. And merely surviving isn’t enough. There are still bills to pay.

I was lucky. I had a second source of income – two, in fact – and I have a job that works well with telecommuting. Even still, I know I have to develop those secondary sources of income to the point I could rely on them in a pinch. We all do. And if you don’t have a secondary source of income, what are you waiting for? Another crisis?

Some of us take vitamins every day. We may never know whether they’re making a difference, but we do it anyway. We pay for insurance, hoping we’ll never need it. And, apparently, we stash a lot of toilet paper. But if the money runs out, none of that matters. Extra income is nice to have – until you really need it. Then it’s worth whatever it took to get there.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The More We Adapt, The Faster We Grow

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

Well, it’s the last day of the month. If you live in my world, that means a whole new set of bills to pay. Those things just never seem to go away. I’ve paid for my house twice already, and still owe half of what I borrowed. I’m apparently in the wrong line of work, because when I earn a paycheck, I only get it once. I think it’s a scam. They just keep sending a bill until you catch on.

This is also the time when we measure our accomplishments for the past month against our goals. And if you need a hand with that, the boss is more than willing to help. Somehow, they don’t quite understand the concept of “almost.” Then comes that loaded question – “Do you remember when I asked you to (insert missed goal here)?” Don’t answer. It’s a trick.

But how about those things you were planning to do for yourself? Okay, you may get a pass on that if it involved getting out of the house and spending time with people. Today. But what was your excuse last month? How about the past several years? “Well, there may be a pandemic out there waiting to happen, and just to be on the safe side, I had to put my plans on hold.” Right.

Okay, enough about pandemics. I guess if somebody has actually been using that as an excuse, they can finally rise up and loudly proclaim, “I told you!” The rest of us have to come up with something better. And the truth is, there is nothing better. Or worse, for that matter. The bottom line is we’re still just making excuses. If that was your goal, congratulations. You win.

A friend often says that success has no regard for the validity of your excuses. Okay, so right now, we have a good one. And it still doesn’t matter. Because, while we’re complaining about the raw deal we’re getting, other people are adapting and moving forward anyway. You play the hand you’re dealt. A pair of twos can still win, especially if the other guy folds.

Right now, companies around the world are doing something they’ve never considered – paying employees to work from home. All those big, glamorous office buildings are sitting empty while we work in our PJs. And yet, the job is still getting done, sometimes better than before. Why? Because that’s our only choice and the job still needs to be done.

I read a story once about a frog that tried to hop over a deep rut in the road and came up short. He tried and tried to jump out, but the rut was too deep. Another frog came along and tried to help, but it was no use. Finally, the second frog went for help as the first frog sat at the bottom of the rut and cried. “I’ll never get out of here!” I think we’ve all been there.

Well, the second frog couldn’t find anyone to help and, as he was going back to deliver the bad news, along came the first frog, happily hopping along. “Wait, is that you? How on earth did you get out of that rut?” The first frog replied, “I had to – there was a truck coming.”

When the chips are down, we find ways to adapt. Hopefully this isn’t the new “normal.” But what we’ve come to know as normal has changed forever. And the tricks we learned now, when we had to jump just a little higher, will take away some of those excuses that have been holding us back. The question is, will we make the most of new opportunities, or make new excuses?

Whether you’re able to work from home or not, this is where the rubber meets the pavement. We can adapt and move forward or sit around and accept whatever fate throws our way. The company’s goals will be met, whether that’s now or later. But what about your own goals? Will they survive?

A new month is about to begin, and in 30 days, we’ll be right where we are now, with a fresh set of bills and that nagging question in the back of our mind – did I make the most of the time I had, or am I still making excuses? This is one bill we can pay early. And the sooner we get started, the easier it’ll be to pay.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The ‘Perfect’ Time Is Now

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

Until last week, I was using a desktop computer to write these posts. But my daughter works from home, and her job requires a dedicated, enclosed office. So, short of buying a new house, the only option was for us to share the office. If you’ve never tried that, let me give you the condensed version – “Dad has to find someplace else to work.”

I’m not complaining. All through life, we learn to adapt. And that’s especially true as parents. In this case, the first adaptation was my monitor sitting on the dining room table with the PC in a chair next to it. We all know how well that works, especially with young grandchildren running around the house. Finally, I bit the bullet and bought a laptop. It was inevitable.

So, now I’m trying to get used to this keyboard that was designed for somebody wearing handcuffs instead of the big ergonomic keyboard I’ve used for so many years. And yes, I know I could connect that keyboard to the laptop, but then I’d have to clear everything off the table again and have my aging eyes that much further from the monitor. Kind of defeats the purpose.

Again, we adapt. We make do with what we’ve got until a more ideal situation presents itself. For me, that situation looks an awful lot like a brand-new, sprawling desk in a corner of the basement where nobody but me will ever see it. Only one catch – I have to disassemble the gym equipment I put up for my grandson to make room for it. You know, the gym he never used.

We touched on this yesterday, but no matter what you want to accomplish, there is never a perfect time and the surrounding circumstances will always be something less than ideal. We can try to minimize the challenges to give ourselves the best possible chance of success, but the longer we wait for things to get better, the longer they’ll stay the same. Except nothing ever stays the same.

And you know how the chorus to that song begins. “As soon as …” Those three words take the heat for more unfulfilled dreams than anything in our vocabulary. “As soon as I graduate; As soon as winter is over; As soon as things at work settle down; As soon as this baby is born; As soon as we get that new house; As soon as the kids are gone; As soon as I retire.” Are you seeing a trend here?

And the trend is this – “As soon as” never happens. Because as soon as (like how I threw that in there?) one task is completed, one event is over, or one situation clears up, something else comes along to take its place. Next thing you know, you’re sitting in a wheelchair in the TV room of a nursing home saying, “As soon as I get out of here …” We all know how that story ends.

Things will never be perfect. Situations come and go, and as soon as one leaves, another one takes its place. You’ll never have the perfect combination of skills and experience. With everything in life, there comes a point where you just have to hold your nose, say a prayer, and dive in. Unless you’re a surgeon or airline pilot in a story that includes me, and then none of these rules apply.

But even the surgeon and pilot had to take a leap of faith at one point. Thankfully, they have much more experienced mentors at their side to keep them from doing something really stupid, but there’s still a very real element of risk. And whenever you put your life in their hands, you can be thankful they were willing to take that risk.

Instead of waiting for things to be perfect, assess what you’ve got right now and start putting it to use. Improve the situation as you go instead of waiting for it to change. Learn new skills on the job, find out if things work by trying them, set fears aside by working through them. Instead of striving for perfection, learn to appreciate “good enough.”

Every day you wait, life is passing you by. If there’s something you want, a burning desire so strong you can’t quench it, then get up, dust yourself off, and get started. You already have everything you need, and the situation is as perfect as it’ll ever be. The rest is simply up to you.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved