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

When Seeing is Believing, Take a Closer Look

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

Now that the weather is a bit nicer, I’ve been trying to get out and take a walk more often. Lunchtime is usually a good time to get away, because it gives me a break from my desk, lets me get a little exercise, and keeps me from gorging on food I really don’t need anyway.

I work downtown, so there are always plenty of places to walk. And there’s never a shortage of people to make the walk interesting. Most simply walk past, give a brief nod, and maybe say hello. Some sit on a bench and look longingly at a world that seems to have passed them by. And then there’s the guy who was chirping like a bird and having a loud verbal argument with himself.

I wish I was making that up, but that’s what I encountered yesterday. Last week it was somebody else, waving his arms and yelling loudly at somebody who wasn’t there. Or, at least from my perspective. Who am I to say there was nobody there, just because I couldn’t see them? In his mind, he was in a full-blown confrontation.

It’s easy to form an opinion on what’s going on with some of these people. Drugs may certainly have been involved, but there are a dozen other possibilities that are much less nefarious. You could be looking at a military veteran who saw things in person that no network would ever allow us to see on TV. You just never know.

Perception is a tricky thing. It’s an important part of quickly assessing a situation in which our safety may rely on our ability to accurately perceive what’s going on. But it’s also a very biased opinion based exclusively on what we’ve experienced and learned to date. We think we know enough to assess the situation, but quite often we’re completely wrong. Worse yet, we may never know.

I remember in high school, walking through a loud and crowded hallway between classes, there was a guy with long stringy hair walking through, seemingly oblivious to everything around him. His head was cocked to one side, his mouth was open and slightly drooling, and he was clapping and snapping his fingers to a beat only he could hear. I was certain he was drugged into oblivion.

A couple of months later, one of my teachers was talking about human miracles and how we can overcome otherwise crippling handicaps to live a normal life. As it turns out, that student wasn’t on drugs. He was blind. He was able, in the middle of a crowded hallway, to listen to the echoes from his claps and snaps to know exactly where he was and what was in front of him.

I remember thinking what a miracle that was, the challenges he had to overcome. Imagine learning the floor plan of a large school so well that you know each doorway and what’s behind it. Water fountains made an entirely different sound, and I’m sure the echo off the lockers was distinct. And he was able to selectively shut out all the background noise to hear only his own echoes.

As I said, sometimes you just never know. It was probably my first big lesson in judging a book by its cover and, nearly fifty years later, I can still see him stumbling through the hallway to get to his next class. I often think about my first impression of him and how incredibly wrong I was. He wasn’t intentionally dulling his senses – he was using them to a level most of us will never achieve.

Every person you encounter presents an image that may or may not be entirely accurate. The young woman who looks like she was out all night partying, but in reality, nobody ever taught her how to apply make-up. The guy who’s nodding off at his desk because he has a severe case of narcolepsy. The overweight person who’s eating candy to ward off insulin shock.

It would be easy to form an opinion based on two or three seconds of observation. And, even when our opinion is accurate, there’s still a lot more we don’t know. Maybe that person is on drugs. But why? What have they experienced in life that’s led them to the choices they’re making today? More importantly, if we’d been in their shoes, would we have responded that much more responsibly?

We’re all very different people, and we all have unique gifts, abilities, troubles, and needs. And we all share this planet together. Instead of crossing the street when I saw a man having a fight with himself, maybe I could have helped talk him through it. Maybe I could have calmed the “other person” down. Who knows?

It’s been said that we should never judge a person unless we’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Until we do, we may never know how hard that walk might be.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

When Fear Clouds Your Dreams, Find Those Rays of Sunshine

Good morning! It’s Hump Day. I hope your day is off to a great start.

Well, by the end of the day the week will be half gone. Depending on your perspective, that could be good or bad. If you’re having a particularly tough day at work, the weekend can’t get here soon enough. But if you’re not making the desired progress on your weekly goals, it’s coming too fast.

I talk a lot about dreams. That’s because I want you to focus on your own dreams enough to decide whether they’re important enough to do something about them and, if they are, to find the inner drive to get up and do it. There is literally nothing you can’t accomplish if you put your mind to it.

But dreams, like anything else, come with a cost. That cost can manifest itself in a dozen different ways. Attaining our goals takes work. It takes time. We may need to learn new skills, or step outside our comfort zone. Others may scoff or maybe even ridicule us. And the final attainment of that dream may involve elements of a life we’re not entirely sure we want.

Back when I had just gotten out of the Navy, my wife mentioned that she’d read about jobs in Australia that paid a lot higher wages, and for Americans working abroad the income was tax-free. It was tempting. I’d been to Australia, and it was beautiful. And the thought of that much money was hard to overlook.

But it would mean leaving our extended family and moving halfway around the world. It was a price I just wasn’t willing to pay. Even now, I complain about winter weather every year and dream of life in a place where snow is only found on postcards from the north. But both of my daughters and all four grandchildren live within twenty minutes of my home. I’d have a hard time leaving them.

Sometimes, it’s not even the reality of what will change that competes with our dreams, but the fear of what might change. How will attaining our dream affect the people we care about? How will it impact our career? What if we get where we want to be, only to find out it’s the last place we want to be? Fear can fuel the imagination faster than fresh logs on a fire.

Sometimes the attainment of our dreams involves changes we may welcome on the surface but may include consequences we’re not quite so thrilled to pursue. And it’s that fear, or even the reality of those changes, that can hold us back from chasing our dreams.

And sometimes that fear isn’t about the attainment of our dreams, but in somebody close to us pursuing their own. It’s said that Neil Diamond dropped out of college to chase his dream of being a professional entertainer. I can imagine his parents weren’t too happy about that. But it was his dream, and sometimes we have to simply accept what we can’t quite understand.

Part of that involves a closer examination of our dreams. Maybe not so much dreams, but our visions of how we want our life to be. Which specific part of our own life will change because of their dream – not only the attainment of that dream, but their pursuit of it? How will it impact our own life, and are we willing to make that sacrifice? More importantly, are we willing to hold them back?

If we look deep enough, we can often find compromise that wasn’t readily apparent. My dream of moving south comes with the cost of leaving our grandchildren behind, and that would certainly impact us all. But it would give them a place in the sun for vacations, and it’s not like we couldn’t just get in the car and come back for a visit.

For every challenge, there’s a solution. When I began comedy, I took my wife along on some of the trips so we could share the experience together. It was a way for her to share my dream while enjoying her own dream of seeing places she’s never been. And she was able to see firsthand my excitement in performing. It didn’t remove all her concerns or minimize her own sacrifice. It was simply a compromise. And it made me appreciate coming home that much more.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Greater the Challenge, the Sweeter the Success

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend.

Did you accept my fifteen-minute challenge from Friday? I did. Okay, I spent a lot more than fifteen minutes, but the house was empty and I didn’t have anything better to do with my time, so I set about a few different tasks and got a lot done. Granted, there’s a lot more still to do, but that’s another story.

We all tend to be a little optimistic when it comes to setting goals, but then as time goes by, we begin to wonder if we were a little too optimistic. Part of the problem is that we’re content to just let time go by instead of putting it to better use. And what ends up happening is we realize we may have overcommitted, so we begin to look for ways to trim the fat. Off our goal, that is.

We compromise and bargain like a used car salesman. Only they’re trying to get more out of us, but we’re trying to get a little less. “Well, I may not make it all the way to my goal, but if I can get a little closer, that’s better than nothing, right?” Okay, that would be a true statement. Anything is better than nothing. But that doesn’t mean it’s enough.

Because every time we come up short on a goal, no matter what kind, we have to admit a certain level of defeat. And defeat is just a more passive word for failure. We didn’t exactly fail – we were defeated. And hey, that happens to the best of us. So we pat ourselves on the back for whatever we did get done, and walk away wiser and maybe even a little smug. We did all we could do.

But did we? Could we have put in a little more effort? Could we have recommitted to our goal and faced the obstacles head-on instead of just waiting for them to move? Could we have put our creative energy to good use and figured out a different approach? Could we have called a friend and asked their advice? Could we have actually followed that advice?

The truth is, any one of these things would have put us closer to our goal and may have actually seen us through to success. But it’s easier to just accept fate and tell ourselves we tried. “It’s the thought that counts.” Sound familiar? Well, that may be true … when it comes to giving someone a gift. When it comes to your goals, it’s an easy way of admitting defeat. But at least you meant well.

Right now I’m facing two monumental goals. One is a little less time-sensitive and, because of that, I haven’t been overly concerned about how quickly it gets done. Cleaning my office yesterday was just the start of my household reorganizing and de-cluttering. But if I can take a little bit at a time, as I did yesterday, it’ll get there.

The other goal is very much time-driven, and I’m a little more than halfway to the end with little to show for my effort. I’ve done all the right things, but this is one of those cases where the “right things” don’t always turn into measurable results. It’s like swinging the bat against a really good pitcher. You miss more than you hit, and when you do connect it’s rarely a home run.

When we set a goal and then allow ourselves to fall short, we re-live that moment every time we try to do anything. We’ve allowed ourselves to accept something short of what we’d deemed acceptable, and it’s not quite as hard to do that the next time. And with each of those defeats, we develop an inner expectation that, no matter what we try, we’ll always come up a little short.

Part of the answer to that is making sure your goals are realistic. But they also need to be challenging. Tying your shoes is realistic, but is it really worth celebrating? Find something that will drive you to a certain level of excellence, something that’ll take a strong level of determination. Then do it. And if you find yourself coming up short, then turn up the heat.

We were born to do great things, and to succeed in whatever we desire. And there’s no greater success than taking on something you’ve never done before, something that’ll stretch your abilities to the limit, and then doing it. Go ahead. Stick your neck out. Swing for the fence. And don’t let anything get in the way. Then listen to the crowd cheer as that ball goes sailing out of the park.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

When Faced With Dessert, Eat the Brussels Sprouts First

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend.

It’s the start of a brand-new week, and that means a whole list of things we need to do over the next several days. More likely, it means a whole list of things we didn’t get done last week that we have to do now before we can begin this week’s work. Can I get an amen?

More and more, that seems to be the way things go. There’s never enough time to get things done in the allotted time, and our reward for all that hard work seems to be adding even more to the schedule for the following week. Whether it’s your job, things around the house, or anything else that keeps you occupied, there’s always more than enough to do.

And it’s easy to skim off the top and take on the more pleasant tasks first. After all, it is Monday. Do they really expect you to just jump right back in? Do they not understand that it takes a few hours to shift from weekend mode into work mode, and you probably need a little time to unwind from two days at home? The nerve of some people!

Well, the reality is, whatever we didn’t get done last week probably needs to be done first. And there’s probably a reason it didn’t get done to begin with … it wasn’t one of those cherry-picking skim-off-the-top tasks that you can knock out in a few minutes. If so, it would have already been done. Along with all those other less-than-challenging tasks you knocked out Friday afternoon.

It’s hard to begin a major task late in the day, especially right before the weekend, because you know there’s no way you can get it done. But, by morning, something else usually comes along that has to be done right now because the assumption is that you show up for work every morning with a clean slate. And nobody wants to set the boss straight on that one.

So, the big task that you planned to tackle first thing Monday morning sits until Monday afternoon, and then there’s no time to get it done by the end of the day, so you resolve to just get it done Tuesday. Then Tuesday comes along with its own new challenges, and guess what happens? I could probably build a big list of those Monday morning jobs that never got done. Thankfully, most are at home where I can’t get fired.

And, believe me, I was a shining example of this concept over the weekend. I’ve got enough projects at home to keep me busy for the next couple of months, and they won’t wait forever. But one thing led to another this weekend, and there wasn’t really time to get any of them completed, so I sat in front of the TV instead. Smart, huh?

We’ve talked before about tackling the most unpleasant task first. When my wife puts broccoli on my plate, I tend to eat it first so I can get it out of the way and enjoy what’s left of my meal. And there’s a reason mom never let us eat dessert first. She knew there was no way on God’s green earth we’d have eaten those Brussels sprouts later. So, we learned this concept early in life.

Most of us will face work today that we’d rather not do, and some of that will be pretty significant in terms of effort. But work has a habit of staying right where you left it. You can spin your wheels all day, or take on a dozen other tasks, but whatever you’ve been avoiding will still be there waiting. Sooner or later, you’ll have to do something about it.

As you begin your day, take a few moments to assess what’s on your plate. Make a list if you have to. And take a guess at how long each job will take. Then double that estimate, because nothing is as easy as it seems. Then take the biggest or most pressing task first and dive in. You may not get it all done today but think of how much less you’ll have to face tomorrow morning.

It’s natural to avoid the unpleasant and anything that seems insurmountable. But if we knock those things out first, the rest of the day is just that much easier. And meanwhile, it builds your own confidence. You’re not only getting things done, you’re doing the impossible. And with that kind of ability, no task (or dream) will ever be too large. You can accomplish anything!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

When Life Hands You Lemons, Squash ‘Em!

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

Yesterday was one of those days that could have gone either way, and it turned out to be another exercise in frustration. It happens, and especially when people with an ulterior motive decide to make sure it happens. But you know what? Today is a brand-new day.

We all have those times when things happen that shouldn’t. People get sick, people die, jobs are lost, homes are lost, friends are lost, or any of a hundred other things that leave you feeling completely hopeless. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason, so all you can do is wake up the next day and move forward.

My mom always used to say that, once you hit rock bottom, the only way you can go is up. There’s some truth to that. And even at the worst point yesterday I was far from rock bottom. But after a few hours of sulking and just trying to make sense of the day’s events, we had dinner, exchanged some laughs, and found a renewed sense of purpose to set things right. It’s a good feeling.

And I guess a big part of the reason we were able to turn things around so quickly is because of the type of things I write about in these posts – dreams, visions of success, positivity, and the reality that our destiny is much more in our control than it sometimes appears. It may feel like we’re only along for the ride, but the steering wheel is very much up for grabs. You can take it any time you want.

Happiness and positivity are a frame of mind. We can choose to be happy (generally) or choose to be downtrodden. It’s all in how we view the little things around us each day. Walking outside to cold air and gray clouds isn’t what most of us would call a good start to the day. But we can either moan about it all the way to work or turn up the radio and sing along. It’s a choice we can make.

Much of life is about perspective. You can drive past a dilapidated home on a dirt road with rusted out cars in the yard, people sitting on the porch commiserating about their lot in life, and in the yard you’ll see young children running and playing without a care in the world. They all live in the same reality – they just see it differently.

And part of that is just age. When we’re young, our parents try to shield us from the negative factors in life, especially those we can’t control like money and bills. But there’s nothing sweeter than the smile on a child’s face as they invent new games to play, laughing and singing without a care in the world.

I have little doubt I’ll step outside to less than ideal weather. Somebody in traffic will try to put me in a bad mood, and something at work will go wrong. These things happen. And, to be fair, when enough of them happen all in the same day, it can pretty much wreak havoc on your general mood. But it’s our ability to handle those little things that makes us better able to handle the big ones.

If we allow the little things to get to us, there’s no way we can handle life’s real challenges. Our family suffered a blow yesterday, one that came as the result of somebody else’s misdeeds. It happens. But we were able to quickly shake it off and get back on mission. And I know it’s because we’re generally positive and hopeful.

Positivity, like many other things, is simply a habit. It’s a choice you make at some point that becomes a part of who you are. It kicks in automatically all through the day, and when you need it the most, it’s there to help you face challenges with a clear mind and the knowledge that you can rise above. It’s what makes the difference between happiness and despair.

So, as you go through the day, pay attention to the little things that bother you. Don’t dwell on them, just be aware of their existence. Then find something positive about the situation and focus on that. It only takes a few seconds to change your perspective. Then you can face the challenge with a renewed sense of spirit. Do that often enough, and it becomes a habit.

Buildings are raised a brick at a time, beginning with a strong foundation you can’t even see once it’s been covered. But it’s there, supporting the whole structure when the storm clouds blow in. Build that foundation within yourself – a foundation of positivity – and you’ll find there isn’t much in life you can’t handle. Each day is only as good as you choose to let it be. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Perseverence (and Coffee) Can Make Everything Right

Good morning! It’s Hump Day! I hope your week is going well.

Every morning, as I make my rather large cup of coffee, I have to run it in two batches – the first is 12 ounces and the second is an additional 8 ounces. It’s simply because my coffee maker doesn’t have a mega-cup setting, and I’m not about to start my day without a mega-shot of caffeine. Those who work closest to me can fully appreciate that.

But after the initial 12-ounce run this morning, my coffee maker decided that was it for now. I waited patiently, and then not-so-patiently, and still it wouldn’t reset itself for an additional brew. I finally gave it the computer-style reboot (pulled the plug) and it decided to work, after I reset the time and all those other fun things. I hope this was just a fluke. I kinda depend on this thing to start my day.

It’s just part of my routine. We all have one. As I get dressed each day, my dog is waiting outside my bedroom door, just to be sure I’m not going back to bed. I go to the living room, sit in the recliner, and he props up across my left leg for a morning hug. Then it’s outside for him, and when he comes back, he gets his morning vitamin and eats his food while I make a mega-cup of coffee. Every day.

We do these things so automatically, we rarely even think about them. Unless the coffee maker decides to test my aging heart, in which case I have to improvise. Or panic. It could have gone either way. We improvise first, and if that doesn’t work, we panic. Can I get an amen?

When an animal does something without thinking about it, we call that “natural instinct.” Okay, I’m not sure dogs have a natural instinct to start dancing around at 7:30 every night because the human is supposed to give them a treat at 8:00. I’m not even sure it’s a habit. If you want my opinion, he’s spoiled. But I only have myself to blame for that.

And how did 8:00 become the official hour for a treat? Because the human (me) did it a few nights in a row at the end of a particular TV show. It’s funny how habits are formed. I didn’t intent do make that a nightly thing with him. It just worked out that way.

I think it’s a little amusing – it takes us about three weeks to form a new habit. If there’s something you’re desperately trying to change, do it consistently for 21 days and it’ll become a part of your life. But, since every years of a dog’s life equals seven years of a human life, that means it only takes a dog three days to form a habit. I walked right into that one.

So, what happens when I go to his favorite cabinet and the bag of treats is empty? He understands “all gone,”, but he doesn’t understand “Daddy forgot to buy some at the store last week.” It’s treat time, and there’d better be something in that magic cabinet. If not, then open the refrigerator. There’s cheese in there. He’s not stupid.

Sometimes we have to improvise. And that’s not always as easy as it sounds. It’s time to start cooking dinner and you realize the roast is still thawed. So, tonight we have grilled cheese. Problem solved. But when you get halfway to work and the car starts flashing that dreaded “check engine” light, you don’t have a lot of options. That’s when even the most devout atheist begins to pray.

As I stared at the coffee maker this morning, I began to wonder if I’d have to start my day with a half-cup of coffee, and how my wife would feel when she had to start her day without. We don’t have instant coffee in this house, so my only Plan B is to stop by the gas station on the way to work. And I’m sorry, but that’s just not a truly acceptable substitute.

Things will happen to mess up the best of plans. You’re on vacation and you hit a detour. The hotel you’d planned to stay in is full. You get a flat tire on the way, and finally arrive at Wally World only to find the park is closed. It happens to the best of us. But somehow, you find the resolve to keep going.

Anybody can breeze through an easy day and come out looking good. It’s how we handle those not-so-easy days that makes us who we are. Just take a step back, assess the situation, and re-focus on the goal. There’s always another way to get there. All you have to do is find it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved