Adversity Builds the Skills That Make Success Possible

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

I woke up to a pretty intense thunderstorm this morning. It was less than an hour earlier than I’d normally get up, which is always a challenge because there’s that part of you that says just go ahead and get up and the other part that desperately wants that final little bit of sleep. I chose the latter.

I’m about to utter some words that most people who know me almost never hear – we needed the rain. We don’t need lightning to go with it, especially as dry as everything has been. But the grass is turning brown in places that should be green, and I’m too cheap to water my lawn. I did spray for weeds a few weeks ago, which could explain all the brown spots. Let’s just say it wasn’t all grass.

Rain can be a blessing. We need it to sustain life, but too much can be as bad as none at all. We had enough this spring to last an entire year, or so you would think. A lot of the farmers were never able to plant their crops because the fields were too wet. And I remember driving across the country at the end of March and seeing houses almost completely underwater. That’s a sight you never forget.

On the other hand, there are places in the world where the water supply has just about completely dried up, and they would be thrilled to put up with a little flooding if it meant they’d have water to drink and plants growing in their fields.

It seems to be that way with most things in life. We desperately want good things in life, but too much can be detrimental to our long-term goals. Take chocolate, for instance. I won’t pick on you ladies, because I love chocolate. It just doesn’t love me. Or, should I say, it doesn’t care what the bathroom scale or my doctor have to say. A little bit can go a long way.

When things are going bad, a stroke of good luck could set us on the path to success. And it’s hard to comprehend sometimes, but too much good luck isn’t necessarily a great thing. If things always went your way, you’d quickly lose the skill of working through the problems other people face. And believe me, your day will come. Wouldn’t it be better to stay up on those skills along the way?

Let’s face it, if nothing ever went wrong, you might not even know it when something did. Recognition is the first step in solving a problem. Then comes troubleshooting – figuring out what needs to be fixed. Then you have to know how to fix whatever is broken, and finally, you have to know when it’s fixed good enough to continue on.

A little adversity keeps things interesting and helps us build the skills necessary to reach the next level. When I was a kid, one of the worst things that could happen was a flat tire on my bicycle. No riding until Dad could fix it. But then one day he showed me how, and flat tires became a nuisance instead of a show-stopper. And somewhere along the way, I learned to work on cars. Go figure.

We all need a little adversity. We also need some good fortune as well. But that doesn’t mean we have to sit back and wait for Lady Luck to throw something our way. We can influence things in our favor. Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparedness. If we can’t spot an opportunity or don’t know how to capitalize on it, luck will just move on to somebody better prepared.

Winning the lottery is a matter of having the right ticket in your hand when the right numbers come up. The odds are astronomical. But even at that, you have to buy a ticket. Now, I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a bunch of lottery tickets. That money could be better utilized in investments or starting a business. The point is, luck doesn’t just fall on your head. You have to at least try.

And that’s what happens when things aren’t exactly as we’d like them to be. We identify the problem, troubleshoot it, take steps to fix it, and move on. And you know what happens next? You’ll encounter the next challenge. Only now, because of the adversity you just worked through, you’re better equipped to keep going, higher and higher until you reach your goal.

Life is a series of challenges to be met and overcome. Some days the sun will shine and other days it’ll rain. Sometimes it’ll rain too much. But in working through each of life’s challenges, we learn to work through the next one. And along the way, we develop an even greater appreciation for what we’ve worked so hard to build. That alone is worth a little extra rain, don’t you think?

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Help Given is Help Received

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

Have you ever driven down a street lined with beautiful homes and manicured lawns, and then right in the middle of the block there’s a home that looks completely out of place? The roof is old, the siding needs paint, the lawn is full of weeds and needs to be mowed, and dilapidated furnishings are strewn across the front porch. You wonder who could possibly live like that in such a neighborhood.

Well, trust me, the neighbors feel the same way. Every day they look out their window in dismay and shake their head as they drive past that one house to get to their own. Not only is it out of place and an eyesore, it’s dragging down the property values for every other home on the block. And for the people living there, it’s a quick way to wear out your welcome in an otherwise upscale neighborhood.

I say that as I look out my front window at two old gas grills sitting in front of my garage door because I haven’t yet been able to get rid of them. I could have dragged them into the back yard again, but I barely got them to the street the first time. I’m pretty sure if I put them back there again, that’s where they’ll stay.

We’ve all found ourselves in a situation where we see something unpleasant, something we’d rather not have to look at – the person on the street asking for food, that drug addict stumbling alongside a busy road. Or that shanty in the middle of the block that just won’t fall down.

Looking away is easy. It doesn’t make the problem go away – it just makes us feel a little better since we’re not looking right at it. Besides, it’s not our problem. We have our own issues to deal with, and we’ve worked hard to rise to a higher level ourselves. If they’d try a little harder, they wouldn’t be in this position. That’s the easy answer. One that requires nothing on our part, other than a little unwanted judgment.

But if we back up and take a second look, things aren’t always as they appear. That person begging for food may not be frail and skinny, but that doesn’t mean they’re filling up on nutritious foods. Potato chips will make you fat as quickly as prime rib. That person stumbling down the road may not be a drug addict at all, but somebody with a debilitating disease just trying to get to the soup kitchen.

And the person living in that dilapidated home may be a single mother working two jobs and barely making ends meet with impending foreclosure an ever-present reality. She may be just as embarrassed as you are at the condition of her home, but any money she spends sprucing the place up could mean a choice between feeding her children or losing their home. You just never know.

None of that means we have to go out and save the world on our own. But to the extent that we help those around us to rise above their adversity, we elevate ourselves as well. Anything we can do to help another person achieve their own potential raises the collective average for everybody around them, ourselves included.

There’s always that one person on the team nobody wants to see reaching for a bat, especially with two outs and the bases loaded. The coach looks on hopelessly as the fans jeer and throw popcorn. And believe me, that person stepping up to the plate knows it. At that point, it doesn’t matter how many star players are on the team. This one person can singlehandedly lose the game.

But maybe that player is a star pitcher or can throw a ball from left field to home plate without a bounce. They just can’t hit the ball when it’s their turn at bat. So, if we can’t just remove them from the team, wouldn’t it make sense to help them become a stronger batter?

Some of the most notable figures throughout history began life in squalor, or with medical conditions that none of us can imagine. More often than not, those people want nothing more than to be like the rest of us, safe and secure, and with an opportunity to optimize their own potential. They just want to enjoy life, the same as you and me.

We may not be able to give everybody a handout, but sometimes all they need is a helping hand. A simple gesture, a little kindness, and maybe some extra effort, can go a long way in helping a person rise above whatever adversity they’re facing. We can’t eliminate all of life’s challenges. But in helping others meet theirs, our own challenges become that much more manageable.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Define Your Circumstances – Don’t Let Them Define You

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

Yesterday was an emotional day for our family. It was the culmination of several years of despair, often highlighting some of the very worst in human behavior, at the ultimate expense of an innocent 11-year-old. In cases like this, there is no justice – only victims. Sometimes all you can do is pick up the pieces and try to move on. Thankfully, for my daughter and granddaughter, that’s the choice they’ve made.

I don’t want this post to focus on the negative aspects of divorce, or the twisted way in which some court-appointed authoritarians dispense their own unique brand of justice. It brings to mind a line from the movie Something to Talk About, where an attorney reminds his client that “divorces don’t happen in church.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Yet, through it all, I’ve seen my daughter grow from a hollow shell of a person, downtrodden by an abusive spouse and consumed with a complete lack of hope, into a vibrant young woman, confident and filled with goals that I have no doubt she will accomplish. For her, life has just begun. And I couldn’t be more proud.

We all experience things in life that seem hell-bent on driving us into the dust from which we came. Relationships end, jobs vanish, accidents happen, and bank accounts run dry. And, while there may be things we can do to avoid some of the challenges in life, nobody truly deserves the hardships they can bring. Adversity has no sense of justice, and it can happen to the best of us.

What’s important is that we find a way to rise above adversity and come out stronger. That can be hard to even think about, much less visualize, when you’re at the bottom of the pile fighting for survival. But, as Mom always used to say, when you hit rock bottom, there’s only one way you can go, and that’s back up.

Okay, some people find a home at rock bottom and stay there a long time. And some grab a shovel and dig even deeper. But, short of personal choice and destructive actions, anything we do will elevate us to a higher level. Maybe not all the way to the top, but sometimes the initial goal is simply to get our heads above water. From there we can find a way out.

As I take my lunchtime walks, I see people at all levels. There are wealthy executives, salaried professionals, hourly employees, public servants and the public they serve. Some are self-employed and others are unemployed. Some own lavish homes and some have no home. Some are seemingly on top of the world, and others just want a way out of this world. And everything in between.

It would be easy to form an opinion of these people, to rationalize why some deserve the good fortune that seems to fill their life, and others are at the bottom because of choices they made. And there may be some truth to that, in some cases. But it’s also possible those people did all the right things and still found themselves struggling for their very existence. You just never know.

Every one of us is capable of greatness. We can achieve anything we desire and leave this world a better place simply because we were in it. Likewise, every one of us is one or two strokes of bad luck away from needing some help. Hospitals are full of patients from all walks of life, many suffering the same debilitating or even life-endangering conditions. As I said, adversity has no sense of justice.

Step outside the hospital and people are fighting equally challenging circumstances. Some were thrust upon them, and some they may have brought on themselves. And sometimes, the person fighting the greatest adversity is the person we see in the mirror every morning.

Circumstances, no matter how good or bad, are temporary. They’re just a moment in time. It’s what we do with that moment that defines our true destiny. It’s been said that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. But in order to do that, you must first grab those lemons and squeeze them beyond recognition. Only then can you find the true potential of what lies inside.

From there, just add a little sugar (self-confidence and focused effort), and those lemons form the foundation of a much more desirable existence. We all face adversity. And we all have the capability to rise above and enjoy the life we deserve. We are defined by our circumstances only to the extent that we embrace them. Choose the life you deserve, then do whatever it takes to make it happen.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Adversity May Come, But the Dream Lives On

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

I’m writing to you from the last place I expected to be this morning – a hospital bed. We’re not really sure what’s wrong, but every time I sit up or even roll over in bed, I get extremely dizzy and try to pass out. But, I’m in good hands and we’ll get to the bottom of it.

Funny thing is, if I can sit for a minute or two I’m okay. This started when I woke up yesterday morning and I made it through the whole day, working, walking around, even driving. But the doc sent me here because of past heart issues, and the first time I tried to get off the bed for an x-ray, the dizziness hit again.

So the problem isn’t sitting up – it’s changing positions. I guess until we figure this out, the answer is that I need to learn to sleep standing up. Horses do it, so it’s not impossible. Okay, if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re taking life way too seriously, and that’s something I try not to do.

But sometimes we have to take it seriously enough to make the necessary changes. When I got the news about my brain surgery last year, that was a real wake-up call. It was a reminder that life keeps moving whether we’re ready or not. Those plans we made for “someday” won’t wait forever.

I started the week mentioning that I have a goal with a tight deadline. That deadline is coming closer by the day, and things like an unexpected hospital stay can really get in the way. But we have to pay the hand we’re dealt. My goal hasn’t changed. All that’s different is the playing field.

Adversity comes to us all, and it never checks to see when would be a good time to visit. It just barges through the door and makes itself right at home. We can either drop everything and cook adversity a nice hot meal, or just shove it to the side and keep doing what needs to be done.

I have little doubt I’ll be out of here later today. I’m sure there will be some more tests before I go, and some may not be all that pleasant. But the bottom line is I’ll do whatever needs to be done and makes the necessary adjustments going forward.

We can plan life to the smallest detail, but life doesn’t always respect our plans. What’s important is that we stay focused on the goal and never let anything stand in the way. The more we do that, the more those plans tend to come our way. We don’t need everything to work exactly as planned. We just need to make the most of what we’ve got.

Lots of things will come your way today. Some planned, some unexpected; some good, and some not so good. But as long as you stay positive and focused on the goal, none of those things can ever stand completely in your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved