It’s Enough To Be Your Best

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

I saw a tee shirt not long ago that I almost bought for my grandson. It read, “Mom said I could be anything I wanted to be, so I became a smartass.” Hey, if the shoe fits. I probably had a little to do with that myself. You know, telling him there’s nothing he can’t do. His mom is to blame for the rest. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. She got it from her mom.

We tell our kids this kind of stuff any time they aim for the stars or come up short on their report card. The conversation is pretty much the same. “Yes, sweetheart, you can become the best baseball player ever to live. You just have to want it!” With the report cards it’s a little less lofty. “If Johnny can get an A in math, so can you. You’re just not trying hard enough!”

Well, time for a bite of reality. It’s called “limitations” … the outer boundaries of our natural abilities. If your kid brings home a C on their report card, it means they’re pretty much like everybody else – no better, and no worse. It also means you don’t have to spring for a new bicycle or whatever else you may have promised for better grades. Learn when to be satisfied.

The fact is teachers don’t award grades based on effort. If they did, some of the slowest kids in class would bring home straight As, and some of the geniuses would be scraping the barrel. Grades, like many things in life, are based on our ability to master whatever it is we’re trying to do. And, while effort certainly plays a part, there’s a little more to it than that.

My youngest daughter is one of the smartest people I know. If she decided to study medicine, there’s little doubt she could learn to be a brain surgeon. But if you’ve ever seen how she shakes just buttering a piece of toast, you’d run the other way. I’m not sure what causes that, but it’s a physical limitation that would prevent her from ever holding a knife in the operating room.

I always wanted to be a pitcher on my baseball team, and the home run star of the league, too. But I spent my time in right field – you know, where the dandelions grow. Nobody ever hits the ball to right field unless they were aiming for the dugout and missed. The rules said the coach had to let me play, so he put me where I could do the least amount of damage.

When it came to batting, let’s just say I was a better outfielder. I think I got one base hit all year, and that was only because the other team was too dazed at the initial shock that Dave actually hit the ball. But, here’s an important point to make. As I was grabbing my bat and helmet, I made a completely incredible announcement – “I’m getting a hit this time!”

Could I have become a stronger player? Absolutely. Could I have hit more home runs than Freddie Chadwick? Never in a million years. My physical stature just wasn’t sufficient to hit the ball that far. Yes, I could have built more muscle and hit the ball further. But some of that is just in the way we’re built. The same goes for grades. You do the best you can do.

Can you accomplish anything in life? Well, within certain limitations, yes. If you’re confined to a wheelchair, odds are you won’t be winning the Boston Marathon any time soon. But that doesn’t mean you can’t compete, and that you can’t turn in an impressive performance. It’s just a matter of priorities – what’s most important to you?

We don’t have to reach the very top to succeed. Do you need to be the richest person in the world, or just make enough money to enjoy the life you want? Sure, both are technically “possible,” but one is a lot more feasible. And within the bounds of “feasible” lies that all-important realm of “believable.”

It’s hard to find the energy to chase a goal we don’t believe we can achieve. Whether that’s better grades, a perfect golf score, a home run, or achieving financial success, it all has to start with belief. And belief only extends to the limit of our natural abilities.

Can you become a better student? Yes. Will you ever get straight As? Maybe. Can you hit the ball a little better, or improve your financial status? Absolutely. To what limits? Well, there’s only one way to find out. When you reach a goal, set a new one. Then just keep doing that until you can’t go any further. You may not reach the very top, but you can get closer. And sometimes, that’s good enough.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You’re Capable of Dreaming It, You’re Qualified to Achieve It

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

Have you ever picked up a book and, in the first paragraph, you find a typo? By the end of page one, you find several more. Sentences started in lower case, words run together with no spacing, the same word twice in a row, and a few misspellings to round things out. It’s like watching my grandson cut grass when he’s in a hurry. And the end result is just as appealing.

I just started reading a motivational book on a premise I find both intriguing and insightful. It’s 51 pages long, so it should be an easy read. But the text is too large, it’s jammed into small margins, spacing is horrendous, and on the very first page it contains every one of those blunders I described. It’s like listening to Roseanne Barr sing the National Anthem.

I wonder sometimes if I’m just too picky. In all honesty, that theory has been suggested once or twice over the years. And, in all fairness, the writer’s message is sound. Reading the Bible isn’t always so easy either, but there are words in there we all need to hear. Sometimes the message is more important than the presentation. This is probably one of those times.

As a beginning writer, I often struggled with the realization that I had no formal qualifications to be a writer. I remember discussing it with a friend one time at a writing conference. She asked, “Do you ever feel like we’re just faking it?” Every single day. Because writing, like most art forms, comes down to one essential question – does anybody appreciate your work?

If so, you can call yourself a writer, an actor, a singer, a comedian, an artist –whatever passion you’ve chosen to pursue, because it’ all about public perception of your talent. And until public perception matches your own, there’s always a detour around those who would stand in your way. It’s called “Fake it till you make it.”

I’ve often said when I write my first book, it’ll be self-published. I have my reasons. First, it’s nearly impossible for an unknown author to get a publishing contract. If you do, it takes nearly two years to get your book in print. Then, if you want the book to sell, you have to get out there and sell it yourself. Well, if I have to write the book AND sell it, I should make most of the money. Right?

But there’s a downside to that as well. It’s easier to get a publisher for your first book than it is to sell a self-published book to a bookstore. There’s a stigma associated with self-published books, and for good reason. Important steps like editing, interior layout, and cover design are often omitted or amateurish. And the writing quality is often just as bad.

That said, some of the most successful books in existence were originally self-published. And many of today’s top writers earned their reputation the same way – by believing in themselves enough to invest in themselves, and then putting it all on the line. Somewhere along the way, somebody picked up one of those books and said, “Hey! This is really good!”

The same is true with many things in life. Nobody took Harlan Sanders seriously when he set out across the country to convince gas stations to sell his secret recipe fried chicken. In fact, his own family laughed at him. “The old man is nuts! He’s not even remotely qualified for this!” Well, you know the rest of the story. Maybe qualifications aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Have you ever been presented with an opportunity, one that has the potential to change your life, and talked yourself out of it because you didn’t feel qualified? Or maybe you did, but couldn’t find anybody to give you the backing you need because you lacked experience? For every business, every career, and every job, somebody was the first to give it a try. Every single one.

You should always arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before starting a new venture, but never let lack of experience or formal qualifications stand in the way. Get what you need the best way you can, and learn the rest as you go. Sure, you’ll make mistakes. We all do. But the greatest mistake you’ll ever make is giving up on your dreams.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Have to Think Anyway, Think Big!

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

I remember a day almost thirty years ago when my youngest daughter was sitting on Dad’s living room floor with a Toys R Us catalog, pen in hand, carefully thumbing through page after page. It was about a month before Christmas, so we all knew what she was up to. Well, we thought we knew.

Dad finally looked over and chuckled and said, “If you have to look through a catalog to find something you want, you must not want it all that much.” She just shrugged her shoulders and replied, “I’m not looking for things I want – I’m crossing off the things I don’t want.” That, my friends, is the very essence of thinking big. No sense messing around with small potatoes – go for the gold.

I’m currently reading, or I guess I should say re-reading, The Magic of Thinking Big. It was the first motivational book I ever read, back in the day. The original copyright was 1959, two years after I was born. And two chapters in, I’m finding that it’s every bit as relevant today as it was way back then. I suspect it’s always been that way. It just took until 1959 for somebody to put it in writing.

The concept is pretty simple. We think all the time. We think of things as they are happening all around us, we think of what to expect next, and we think of how we would like things to be. We envision a future. We dream. We want. These thoughts are going through our head every second of the day. And if we’re going to think anyway, why not think big?

Every modern convenience, every medical advance, every technological achievement, was the result of somebody looking at things as they were and thinking of something better. Some of those came as the result of gradual improvement, but most were the result of thinking big.

The first cell phone I ever saw was on a cartoon back in the 1960s. It may not have been under development at the time, but somebody had already dreamed that it would someday be a reality. It takes unlimited vision to imagine such things. Or, what corporate executives like to call “thinking outside the box.” Don’t be constrained by what is – think of what could be.

We all have dreams. But how big are yours? Take a look around. Much of your life, as it exists today, was once a dream. You dreamed of driving your own car. You dreamed of living in a comfortable home. You dreamed of a job that would pay the bills. You worked to achieve these things and celebrated at least a little when you achieved them.

Maybe what you have today isn’t exactly what you dreamed of, but here’s the real question – did you ever dream of anything much greater? As you were looking at homes, did you look for what you really wanted, or what you thought you could afford? Did you apply for the job you really want to have, or the one you think you’re qualified for?

Okay, we all have to live within certain boundaries, but only for the moment. I live in the home I could afford at the time. But that doesn’t mean I have to live here forever. I look at waterfront homes and think, “Man, would that be nice!” Well, it would. And I could find out if I really wanted to badly enough. It would take time, but I’ve got time. I’ve got the rest of my life. And so do you.

Get out this weekend and take a drive. You know, in that part of town. The part where the homes are bigger, the cars are a little nicer, the lawns are nicely manicured, and the streets are always freshly paved. You know the difference between their life and yours? They didn’t limit their dreams to their current reality – they dreamed of something better. And just like you, they’re still dreaming.

What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. You’ve heard those words before. All it takes is imagination, belief, conviction, and effort. And here’s the thing – you had to employ every one of those elements to achieve the life you’ve got. Imagine where you could be if you’d just stretched that a bit.

If you have to think anyway, think big! The CEO of your company works about the same number of hours as you do. It takes the same amount of effort to create their lifestyle as it did to create yours. You can achieve any goal, no matter how great or how small. So, don’t let your imagination hold you back. Think big. Dream big. Then chase those dreams. You’re closer than you think.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Believe in Others – And Be Sure They Know!

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

We’ve been talking a lot over the past several days about goals and the things we can do to achieve them. And yesterday we talked about the reality that each of us has within us the ability to make that happen. And as I wrote those words, I wondered how many of us have actually heard them through most of our life. Affirmation doesn’t seem to be overly abundant in this world.

I’m reading a book by the late Rich Devos, Ten Powerful Phrases for Positive People. It’s a short book, and an easy read if you’re in the mood for something uplifting. The chapter I read yesterday afternoon was about a simple but very powerful phrase – “You can do it!”

How often have we heard that throughout our lives? And, by contrast, how often have we heard the exact opposite? “You’d better stick to your day job.” “The odds of you accomplishing that are one in a million!” “Are you serious? That’ll never work!” And, here’s the real question … how many times have you uttered those words yourself? If you’re completely honest, it can be disheartening.

I grew up in a family where we were encouraged to be the best we could be. When I was a boy, all I wanted was to be a doctor. Mom and Dad were proud of that aspiration and did everything they could to let me know I could accomplish that goal. When the teenage years hit and I decided to be a rock star, I realized pretty quickly that I’d be chasing that dream on my own.

We all want the best for our kids, and my parents were no different. But all too often, we try to shape their dreams to match the vision we had for them. Instead of encouraging them to be great at whatever they decide to do, we tend to steer them toward being great at the things we want them to do.

Think of the little boy standing at home plate with a bat resting on his shoulder, a look of complete boredom in his face, and his parents standing behind him yelling, “You can do it, Timmy! Hit it out of the park!” They’re giving him plenty of positive affirmation. But is it what he really wants to do? Or would he rather be sitting in a quiet room, scribbling gothic images with the hope of becoming a great tattoo artist?

Affirmation is important. In fact, it’s critical. No matter what we attempt, we should be able to do it with the full moral support of our family and friends. And no matter what they attempt, they should know we have complete confidence in their ability to succeed. That’s what affirmation is all about. It’s the knowledge that, not only do you know you can succeed, but everyone else knows it as well.

We can’t control the feedback we receive from others. It’s their honest opinion, and they’ll usually share it with your best interests at heart. But sincerity doesn’t always equal accuracy. Just because somebody offers advice, that doesn’t mean we should take it to heart.

But we do have control over the feedback we give others. And, in encouraging somebody else to pursue their own dreams, assuring them they have what it takes to succeed, we’re reminding ourselves that we also have what it takes to achieve our own goals. You can’t compliment somebody else without feeling better yourself. And you can’t affirm somebody else without affirming yourself.

When we lift up those around us, we lift ourselves as well. Words of affirmation need to begin at a young age and continue throughout our lives. We have the power to make that happen. When somebody shares a dream, instead of poking holes in it, focus on how they can make it happen. That is, after all, why they shared their goal to begin with. They wanted affirmation.

Dreams are easily born, and just as easily crushed. And all too often, it’s not the cold, cruel world that crushes our dreams. It’s those closest to us – the people we love and trust the most. Every one of us has the ability to accomplish anything we desire. But we can only do that if we believe in ourselves enough to make it happen. Feed that belief. In yourself, and in everyone around you. Then wait for the magic to happen.

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