A Boat That Isn’t Rocking Isn’t Going Anywhere

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

Forty-three years ago, almost exactly to the minute, I was sitting outside a Navy recruiter’s office in Fort Lauderdale waiting for my recruiter to arrive and take me to a land far, far away. At least that’s how it felt. Over the next several hours, my life would change in ways I could never imagine. And over the next 12 years, I was slowly (and sometimes not so slowly) changed into the person I am today.

I’ve often wondered where I’d be today if I hadn’t chosen that path in life. I had opportunities for some pretty high-paying work as a commercial artist – you know, back when people drew pictures instead of computers. But, as a result of my time in the Navy, I followed a more technical path and ended up with a job that suits my personality completely. I’m pretty happy with the outcome.

It’s easy to look back and wonder how our lives may have changed if we’d done things differently. I look at mistakes I’ve made over the years and I wish I hadn’t made some of those choices. But everything we’ve done in life, both good and bad, has led us to where we are at this very moment. One minor variation along the way would have changed our lives completely.

So, here’s the question – if we can so clearly see how the decisions we’ve made have led us to where we are now, why is it so hard to see how the choices we make today will affect the rest of our life? We always seem to think as long as we don’t change anything, we’ll continue on our current path indefinitely. “Things are going fine – don’t rock the boat.” Sound familiar?

But the reality is, a boat that isn’t rocking at least a little isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s probably not even in the water. Now, boats may look real pretty sitting there on dry land, but they completely miss their only intended purpose until they’re allowed to roll with the wind and waves. And in doing so, we accept the risk that, sooner or later, storms will come. It’s just part of owning a boat.

And it’s part of anything we do in life. Starting a family is one of the most wonderful blessings we’ll ever experience. To see a baby come into this world, one that’s of our own flesh and blood, is nothing short of incredible. Yet, with the first poopy diaper, we realize it’s not all marshmallows and roses. A thousand diapers later, reality starts to set in. This will be an E-ticket ride to the very end.

Now, we could have made the choice to just leave things as they were. “We’re doing fine, just the two of us. Life is good. Don’t rock the boat.” And I know a lot of people who have made that very choice. It works for them, because we all have different values. Sure, they’ll never know the thrill of holding a grandchild in their arms. But they’ll never know the heartache of seeing their child in tears.

We all make choices every day. To some degree, each of those choices will have an impact on our life moving forward. Even the breakfast sandwich I defrosted last night. I know the nutritional value in that sandwich, and suffice to say it’s not the best choice I could have made. Even now, I have the option to take it to work with me or just leave it there. I know the decision I’ll make. We all do.

I probably won’t feel any immediate effects from eating a sausage & egg biscuit instead of a bowl of oatmeal. But over time, those choices do stack up. Much like the other choices we make on a less frequent basis. Do you take a class to develop a new skill or spend that time at home? Do you start that business, or stick with what you know? Do you ask that girl out, or play ball with your friends?

The choices we make today will have some level of impact on our life, some more than others. And not making a choice is a choice in itself. You may think you’ll stay right where you are, but the reality is, you’ll just sit still as the world passes you by. The most beautiful home will eventually fall down if nothing changes.

Rock the boat. Take a few risks. A whole new life is waiting to be discovered. There will be some storms along the way. But unless you’re willing to go through those storms, you may never know the wonders that await on the other side.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Opportunity Flows Easiest Into an Open Mind

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

Mine began with a moment of frustration. After weeks of considering what to do with two old gas grills that have been rusting on the back porch since the days of Moses, I finally dragged them out to the street. It’s garbage day, and we always have people cruising the streets looking for scrap metal or anything else they can use. Well, as it turns out, almost always. Guess what’s still sitting on the curb?

Now I have to go out there before I leave for work and drag them back up to the house. Isn’t that the way it works? People will come along and collect any kind of junk on the planet, but my junk doesn’t rise to their standards. Broken down lawnmowers, old furniture, TVs and even fried-out microwave ovens, all get picked up by somebody. But my old grills, full of recyclable steel, get left behind.

You can never predict what will appeal to another person. Corporations spend millions of dollars trying to figure it out, and millions more convincing us that what they sell is exactly what we want, whether we already knew that or not. I guess I could find a way to make those old grills more appealing, but then I’d be tempted to put them back on the patio for another ten years.

Have you ever seen somebody driving a car that you think is the ugliest thing on the planet? And not only are they sitting in the driver’s seat where everybody can see their smiling face as they drive past, they adorn the car with equally ugly after-market accessories that probably cost as much as a week’s groceries. You’d never be seen dead in it, but they think it’s the most awesome car around.

One man’s junk is truly another man’s treasure. It works that way with a lot of things. Every day, we encounter people in professions we’d never consider. Sometimes they’re quick to let you know it beats unemployment, but other times they seem to love their work. You just never can tell. And if they knew what any of us do for a living, they’d probably shake their head and say, “Not on your life.”

I guess it’s why my mom always insisted that we take at least one bite of everything on our plate. Sushi isn’t the most attractive food I’ve seen, and the thought of it was a little revolting. But I tried some one time and liked it. Over the years I’ve developed a taste for all kinds of things. Except broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. I’m convinced God created them as a punishment for eating apples.

The point is, we never know what may appeal to another person, and things we never considered before sometimes become a little more intriguing. Even our values change over time. I often find myself debating topics with people who feel exactly as I once did, and as fervently as they now do. Yet, over the years, my viewpoints have grown. That’s not to say I’m any more right – I’m just more “me.”

It’s easy to look at another person, even a member of our own family, and think, “They’d never be interested in that.” Believe me, I almost fell over when my wife and I took a weekend vacation to the mountains and she suggested hiking. And I’m sure she was equally shocked at how much I enjoyed our day in a restored Shaker village, learning about their tools, furnishings, and unique way of life.

All through your life, people will suggest things you never would have thought of on your own. It may be as simple as a different food or drink, or as complex as a side business or new career. It’s easy to shrug it off and say, “That’s just never been my thing.” Yet, the very fact that you can go into a grocery store and come home with a variety of foods is proof that you haven’t always been so closed-minded.

We find new things by opening our mind to new things. We may or may not come to truly enjoy any of them, but we never know unless we at least give them some consideration. It’s just possible all those people out there running marathons know something I don’t. “But I tried running once and didn’t like it.” Seems I’ve heard those words before.

Just because we didn’t like something before doesn’t mean we won’t like it now. And things we didn’t consider before somehow begin to make sense. But only if we open our mind enough to change the question from “why” to “why not?” It’s a simple change. One extra word. But it’s a change that can lead us to new opportunities, greater accomplishments, and a more fulfilling life. And isn’t that what we wanted all along?

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Where Do You Want to Be?

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

I was listening to a CD a couple of weeks ago where the speaker said that, for each and every one of us, where we are today is exactly where we want to be. And my first thought was, are you delusional? I want to be on a sunny beach with a Pina Colada in my hand and a bucket of shrimp by my side. He must have been talking to somebody else. You know, those “other” people.

But the more he talked, the more that statement made sense. Everything we’ve done in life has led us to where we are right now. Actions, some inadvertent but mostly deliberate, one stacked upon the other, have created the life we now enjoy. Or not, whichever the case may be.

I hope most of us are at least happy with where we are today. I am. Okay, contented is probably a better word. If nothing were to change between now and the end of my days, I wouldn’t complain too much. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want some things to be different. There is still a lot I’d like to accomplish, and if I were to miss any of those goals, I’d always feel I could have done better.

Yesterday we talked about the characteristics of successful people – belief, action, and resolve. They don’t just believe they can do something – they know it. Based on that knowledge they take action. They do something about it. And when something stands in their way, they either step over, go around, or kick it out of the way so it doesn’t mess up anybody else’s day.

But there’s one more very important characteristic that drives them to succeed – it’s the realization that, based on their belief, knowledge, and resolve, they deserve success. It’s no longer a matter of luck. They’ve put in the required effort, and the reward is theirs for the taking. Others may deserve it as well, but nobody else deserves it more.

Thankfully, for most of our goals, there’s plenty to go around. I want a motorhome. If there were only one motorhome on the face of the earth, my pursuit of that goal may be a bit selfish. But I’ve seen pictures and videos of factories where they churn these things out one behind the other. There are plenty for everybody who wants to work for one. And if they run out, they’ll just build more.

The other side of that equation is the type of effort it takes to succeed. What do you have to do, and how will it impact those around you? If putting myself in the driver’s seat of a motorhome meant I have to step on other people and take away their chances at success, I’d have to find another dream, because that’s just not who I am. Thankfully, most of us would feel the same.

There’s a difference between deserving something because you’ve worked for it or attaining a goal because you took from others to get it. Material achievement comes easy when you control all the cards. Put people in a position where they have no choice but to support your goals, and you’ll win every time. But that’s not success. That’s coercion, and it’s a sad way to live your life.

What I’m talking about is the feeling that you deserve whatever it is you’re working for simply because you’ve put in the individual effort to have it. You didn’t just dream about it. You got up off the couch when everybody else was relaxing in front of the TV and went about doing the things you need to do to succeed. And you’ve been doing it every day, whether you felt like it or not.

And it all began with an itch, a little dissatisfaction with things as they are today. That doesn’t mean you’re unhappy with the life you have. It just means you want to use your God-given abilities to take it to a little higher level. It means you’re not quite ready to lay down and quit. It means you have the drive to keep setting new goals and working to attain them. It means your masterpiece isn’t quite finished.

All your life, you’ve worked to be exactly where you are at this moment. “But this isn’t where I want to be!” I get it. Most of us feel that way. So, what you’re saying is, this isn’t where you want to stay. And the moment you begin working toward something different, you’re where you want to be – moving toward something better and deserving of the success it’ll take to get there.

The things you’ve done have put you where you are today, but it’s the things you’ll do that will move you forward – today, tomorrow, and every day. You deserve any level of success you work to achieve. Your future begins today.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Break a Tradition to Find the Possibilities Hidden Inside

Good morning. It’s Friday! I hope your day is starting off well.

For many of us, this will be a weekend of religious observances, and a day with family accented by some traditional meals. For others, it’s just a normal springtime weekend to observe their own weekend traditions. Whatever your plans, I hope the weekend is just perfect.

It seems traditions work their way into our life, sometimes completely by accident. But once they become ingrained in us, it’s hard to deviate. But sometimes that deviation can lead to new traditions, or even a tradition of just seeing where life takes you. That can be fun as well.

Nearly twenty years ago when our girls were visiting a grandparent out of state, my wife and I decided to take a long weekend and go someplace. We didn’t know where we wanted to go – we just wanted to get away for a couple of days.

I remember as I was loading our luggage for the trip, I asked my wife, “So, which way are we going? North, south, east, or west?” She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know – pick one.” We hit the road, with no real idea of where we’d end up. And we had one of the most incredibly relaxing and enjoyable weekends ever.

Traditions can be great (not that we’ve ever had a real “tradition” for weekend outings), but they can limit your imagination and lead to a somewhat mundane existence. When we go to any of several familiar restaurants, I rarely even look at the menu because I already know what I’ll be eating. And sure, I get something I really like each time. But I always wonder what I may be missing.

Traditions are nothing more than habits, but with a more celebrated existence. Our family tradition of baked ham and macaroni & cheese casserole on Easter Sunday is a habit. One I really enjoy, mind you, but still a habit. And one that limits other possibilities. Like this year, when the menu will be traditional summertime cookout fare – hamburgers, hot dogs, and potato salad.

Notice how one tradition just slipped in there over another? Pretty sneaky, if you ask me. But it happens, because we’re all creatures of habit. We have routines that have become comfortable, and when decisions need to be made, we naturally gravitate to them. So, instead of a single tradition, we have a few. Then it’s just a matter of drawing one out of the hat.

And we follow this routine through much of what we do in our lives. I have certain combinations of clothing I wear. When I put on my blue pants, there are just a couple of shirts I’ll wear with them. And, most of the time, those shirts only get worn with my blue pants. So, the only real decision I make each morning, is which pair of pants to put on. From there it’s eenie-meenie-miney-mo.

In yesterday’s message, I stressed the point that we need to be willing to try new things. And sometimes those new things are so far outside the box, we’d have never thought of them on our own. When somebody suggests them, our brain immediately comes up with a dozen different reasons to resist. And if those reasons aren’t good enough, there are a dozen more behind them.

It’s simply because what we’ve been doing to this point in life is coloring inside the lines, following a pre-defined path that we laid out for ourselves. But if we want to turn the current picture into a masterpiece, we have to be willing to color outside the lines. We have to be willing to change those habits that have restrained us to this point and find some that will lead us where we want to be.

I’m not bashing traditions. We all have them, and there are some we have no desire to change. I could go to a Chinese restaurant for Easter – I just choose not to. And that resistance to something new will keep me from ever knowing what may have been. It’ll keep me in the same silo in which I’ve lived to this point in life. And in this case, it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

But if there are traditions and habits that are holding you back, change them. If something new could lead you to where you want to be, do it. The mind is like a parachute – it only works when it’s open. Be receptive to new ideas, new habits, and new traditions. And then shut your brain down long enough to get past those excuses and examine the possibilities. What a difference it can make!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Stuck in a Rut? Ribet!

I’d like to begin today’s message with a parable about finding the strength to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. We all find ourselves in situations from time to time that we’d desperately like to change, but sometimes the motivation just isn’t quite there. Until life throws a knuckle ball that we have no choice but to hit.

A frog was hopping down a dirt road, happy as a lark and full of life. After a while, he came upon the sound of a toad crying for help. The toad was stuck at the bottom of a deep rut and couldn’t get out. He’d climbed and jumped all night but kept falling back down to the bottom. His situation seemed hopeless, and there was little the smaller frog could do but go try to find some help.

An hour later, unable to find any way to help his friend, the frog sat beside the road to think. A few minutes later he heard a familiar sound and, to his amazement, along came the toad. “That rut was too deep!” the frog exclaimed. “How on earth did you ever get out?” The toad simply replied, “There was a truck coming … I didn’t have a choice.”

Sometimes, it’s not enough to want something. We can dream about it, plan for it, set goals, and spring into action, only to fall right back to where we started. After a while, we begin to think maybe we just set our goals a little too high. Maybe this is beyond our capabilities. Besides, this rut isn’t so bad after all.

This is true in many areas of life, but especially when it comes to finances. No matter where we are on that mountain, most of us want to climb a little higher. But that takes work, and right now there are just too many other things we need to do. Sound familiar?

More often than not, time really is on our side. The bills are being paid, there’s food on the table, and maybe even a little left over for savings and vacations. What’s the rush? Then the ground begins to vibrate, and you hear an unwelcome sound headed your way, getting louder by the second. Time is no longer a luxury. You have to do something now, or just lay there and await the inevitable.

Thankfully, for most of us, it’s not really a truck headed our way. Sometimes it’s a serious health issue that won’t be covered by insurance. Or maybe you go into work one day to find a box sitting next to your desk as the boss says, “It’s not personal – just business.” Or you get a letter from the bank giving you ten days to pay up or move. But at this point, ten days just isn’t enough.

It all comes down to a pretty simple concept – dig the well before you get thirsty. Things happen that we never planned on, and emergencies have no regard for the size of our bank account. They’ll take it all, and then some. And nobody else cares, as long as they get paid. Your emergencies aren’t their problem. You figure it out.

If you suddenly found yourself in that rut with a truck bearing down, you’d find the strength to get out of the way. We all do. The key is to find that strength now, before you need it, and get out of that rut before the truck ever hits the road. Dig the well before you get thirsty.

Digging a well takes work. It’s not convenient, and a lot of people may even question why, especially when there’s a faucet on your kitchen sink. “You don’t need this! You’re comfortable! Let’s go grab a beer!” But when that day comes that you turn on the faucet and nothing happens, you’ll be glad you put in the effort. And you’ll meet friends you never knew you had, but that’s a different story.

Find that sense of urgency now, before life does it for you. Life will still throw some knuckle balls, and you may already be sitting on two strikes. The question is, will you be ready for it? Will you simply reach into your bank of resources and handle the problem, or let the problem handle you?

If there’s something you could do in the face of an emergency, what are you waiting for? Do it now. Then, when those emergencies arise, you can focus on the real issue instead of the fallout.

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

One Degree at a Time

Mark Twain once said everybody always complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. I guess it’s good that we can’t actually do anything about it, because that would just give us all one more thing to fight over. And I’m pretty sure I’d never live long enough to get my turn at the thermostat. If I did, I’d set it to 80 and break it.

My wife and I have a running feud over the inside temperature of our house. Well, it’s more like a disagreement. Okay, it’s a game of cat & mouse. She keeps turning it down, then I sneak down the hallway to turn it back up. We’ve done this several times a day for the past five years. We both think the other won’t notice, or maybe we just hope we’ll get at least an hour or two of relative comfort.

And, are you ready for this? Our difference in the definition of “acceptable” is one degree. One. Singular. You can’t even measure it in degrees, because there’s only one of them. Seriously? In fairness, that’s just the temperature where we’ve agreed not to compromise. She would be happy with five degrees colder, and I’d be happy on a tropical beach.

Now, there’s no way our bodies can tell the difference between 68 and 69 degrees. But that’s where we’ve drawn the line. At this point, it’s more of a moral victory than anything really meaningful. Yet, we play the game. Day after day, year after year. I can’t wait to see what we’ll be like in our eighties.

I guess this is a (somewhat) amusing way of illustrating a more important point. It’s natural to want to live in our comfort zone and, for most of us, stepping outside that comfort zone is a big deal. Even if it’s only by one degree. We know where life feels good, and that’s where we want to stay.

But all too often, what we perceive as our comfort zone really isn’t that comfortable at all. We just live our lives in a state of compromise and acceptance, never really trying to make it any better. Because, in the very act of making it better, we have to abandon what we’ve come to know and take a chance on breaking the thermostat completely.

And, it’s that risk that keeps most of us right where we are. That, and a feeling of relative comfort. Sure, you’d like to make more money, or live in a bigger house, or get a better job, or break away from a toxic relationship. But that means stepping away from what you’ve come to know and into the unknown. It means change, and change isn’t something we always handle very well.

So, we sit right where we are, in a state of relative discomfort, simply because it’s easier than making the changes that would increase our level of comfort. After a while, we even embrace that level of discomfort, because it’s what we know. This is the very reason the vast majority of lottery winners are bankrupt within a few years. The change is just too sudden.

But, here’s the thing. The temperature in our house didn’t suddenly change one day from 75 degrees to 68. It was a slow progression – a trick wives learn in bridal school where they teach them to conquer the household one degree at a time. And husbands, gullible as we are, don’t even notice it until there are icicles on the bathroom mirror. By then, we’ve been had.

The same is true of changes in your life. The big bang approach usually doesn’t work, because it’s too much change too fast. Why do you think all those New Year’s resolutions fail? But if we approach change a little at a time and give ourselves a little time to get used to the change, it adjusts our comfort zone and becomes another normal part of our day.

Your comfort zone is like a rubber band. It can sit there for years, never doing anything besides just existing and getting moved from one place to another. But in order to be of any value at all, it has to be stretched. And, the reality is, someday you’ll stretch it too far and it’ll break. So, you reach into the drawer and get a new one that you can stretch even further.

One degree at a time. It may not fix the ongoing battle over the temperature in our home, but it can make a huge difference in your quality of life if you’ll just let go of that one degree that’s holding you back. You can’t find a new comfort zone by resting comfortably in the one you’ve got. Step outside and explore. You never know what you may find.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Change is Not a Four-Letter Word

We’re all creatures of habit. Some a little more than others, but we all get into a comfort zone and tend to stay there until something comes along to change that. Those habits could be anything from which side of the bed we sleep on to which shoe we put on first, the route we follow driving to work, and how we spend our first five minutes on the job each day.

Most of our habits are completely inconsequential. Does it matter where you sit in church, or which shoe goes on first? Not a bit. In fact, some experts suggest we should change those habits from time to time, just to break up the monotony.

Beyond that, I think it can help us learn to adapt to change, so the thought of changing a habit isn’t quite so daunting. Because, let’s face it, we tend to make a big production of changing our habits. We make resolutions, set dates, create checklists, and put stars on our daily calendar like a kindergarten teacher to show the days we were “good.”

It’s no wonder we’re so reluctant to change. And if it’s that hard to change something relatively minor, how on earth can we tackle the changes that really matter, things like giving up smoking, losing weight, following an exercise program, or devoting a little time each day to building a business? All of these things can have a profound impact on our lives. And the stronger the impact, the more we resist making the change.

I think two things hold us back. The first is comfort. It’s human nature to seek a place of comfort. And when things are going well, and nothing is forcing us to change, it’s easy to sit back and say, “This isn’t so bad. I’ve done it this way all these years, and I’m still alive. In fact, I kind of enjoy how things are going right now. Why rock the boat?”

That’s great if you want to stay right where you are until the reaper pays a visit. But if you want to step things up a notch, something has to change. To have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. That’s one of my favorite quotes, and it resonates perfectly in this context.

The first step in making that change is to get a little uncomfortable. If we’re cruising along with little or no discomfort, there’s little incentive to change. We know what we really should do, but the urgency just isn’t there. Until the mortgage company calls and says pay up or pack up. I hope none of you ever have to experience that, but I think we can all agree, it would light a fire.

Beyond that, we need to break these major changes down into smaller bite-size pieces. One of my goals for the year is to finalize my financial situation in preparation for retirement. If you could see my bank and 401k statements today, you’d know that’s a huge undertaking. And, I’ll be honest – looking at the end goal, it’s really hard to visualize.

But, if I break it down into smaller goals – paying down the credit cards, shedding some unnecessary expenses, and building some sources of ongoing income, it becomes a little more realistic. And if I take any one of those goals and break it down even further, I can come up with a list of actionable items that can be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time.

It’s all about habits. Form the right habits, and you’ll work toward your goal without really thinking about it. It becomes second-nature. And once that habit is firmly in place, you can start working on the next one. Instead of trying to leap-frog right to your ultimate goal, you do it 21 days at a time.

If there’s something you’d like to change, a habit you’d like to develop (or break), it only takes three weeks. You may or may not reach your big goal by the end of the year, but think of how much closer you’ll be. All it takes it to get a little uncomfortable with the status quo, make a decision to do something about it, then commit to doing that for the next three weeks.

It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, day after day, and expecting different results. To have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. Embrace change, one little step at a time, and there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved