Focus Your Effort for Amazing Results

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

So, the weekend is here and hopefully you’ve got something fun planned. After all, it is what we seem to spend all week working for. And I know, for some of you the weekend is when work really heats up. But you get a little reprieve while the rest of us are enjoying Monday, so it all works out. Either way, I hope you enjoy your time off, whenever it comes.

I listen to motivational audios most days, and in some of them the speakers are young people with names that sound even younger. Names that weren’t so common back when I was in school, with youthful voices to match. They’re full of excitement and energy, and don’t appear to have a care in the world. And somehow, they all beat me to retirement. What’s up with that?

These are people who are still sound asleep each day as I begin my morning routine. They get up whenever they feel like it, or whenever their kids wake them up. They take their time with breakfast and get dressed if and when they feel like it. They go to morning aerobics classes, have lunch with old friends, take the kids to the park, and pretty much do whatever they want most of the day.

And best of all, they plan work around their vacations instead of the other way around. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but that lifestyle sounds pretty appealing to me. And believe me, they’ve earned it. They’re not rock musicians or movie stars. They’re just ordinary people like you and me who decided they wanted something more and were willing to get out and work for it.

And the thing is, they didn’t have to take on another fulltime job to make it happen. A laser is nothing more than a highly focused beam of light. It can travel great distances and, depending on the type of light and how it was generated, it can cut through steel with precision that’s just not possible by any other means. It’s all about focus – putting the energy where it counts most.

And when you can find something that works, something where you can generate a little extra income or pay off some bills a little early, all you have to do is focus that energy to get extraordinary results. It doesn’t have to take up all your spare time, because you’re not trying to do everything all at once. You’re focused on one thing at a time with a precision that magnifies your effort into something incredible.

But it all has to start with the basics. A laser pointer is essentially a battery, an LED, and a lens. None of them on their own are all that extraordinary. But when you put them together in just the right way, the result is pretty impressive. And that’s how it is with the things we do for ourselves. A little extra effort, focused on the right things, can accomplish a lot of work with the precision of a laser.

If you throw enough mud on a wall, some of it will stick. And if the goal was to cover the entire wall in mud, sooner or later you’ll get there. The end result won’t be very pretty, and some areas will be a lot thicker than others. But if you could find a way to spray that mud in a fine stream, you could cover the entire wall a lot faster and with a much more impressive result. Focus.

Put that same premise to work on your personal goals, and you can achieve some incredible results with a lot less effort than you’d imagined. All it takes is focus and commitment – honing your effort to whatever produces the best results and sticking with it no matter what. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So, instead of looking at your goals as a huge job that’ll take up all your waking hours for the next fifty years, figure out how to focus that effort and do the work that produces results. You may need to adjust the lens a little along the way. But once you dial it in, nothing can stand in your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Success You Achieve Is Never Less Than You Expect

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

Yesterday I worked from home. It’s a benefit that’s available in my job, one that I rarely take advantage of, but it’s nice to have the option. No traffic, dress any way I want, and lunch is only a few steps away. Besides, it gave me the option to cook breakfast for my little ones. That’s always a special treat for them. Times like this go by fast and you can never have them back.

I guess that’s what it feels like to be retired. Okay, aside from that part about going downstairs to the office to work all day. I know people who retired early, some in their thirties. That doesn’t mean they stopped working completely. Just that they stopped working at a job that requires their physical presence every day and found something that offered a little more freedom.

And make no mistake, these people are earning much more money than most of us will ever dream of, simply because they were willing to do something most people won’t. I’m sure they put up with their fair share of ridicule and doubt. I’m sure there were days when they wondered if all that extra work would ever pay off. But it did, and because of that, they have choices most of us will never have.

In yesterday’s post, I touched on two important premises. First, the notion that success occurs when our dreams become bigger than our excuses. Dreams give us something to work for, a goal to achieve. They make us get out of bed a little earlier and work a little later. Excuses are simply a free pass for not doing the things we need to do. Except they’re not really free – they end up costing a lot.

The second premise I touched on was the habit of success. This is something we’ve talked about before, and you’ll probably hear more about it over the coming year because somebody we all know is writing a book about it. It’s simply the idea that small successes, repeated over and over, build a mindset that can no longer see the potential for failure. It can only visualize success.

Thomas Edison tried hundreds of different designs before he developed a practical, working light bulb. Others were able to produce light, but only for a few seconds before the filament burned out. At some point, they all gave up. Instead of building the habit of success, they gave in to failure. Edison continued, and we all know how that turned out.

What drives a person to keep trying in the face of so many failed attempts? It’s simple. He didn’t see any of those early attempts as failures, because each time he learned a valuable lesson – he learned what doesn’t work. And if you keep eliminating all the different things that won’t work, you eventually reach a point where all that’s left is what WILL work.

Commitment is an absolute requirement in building the habit of success. You have to know, from the very start, that nothing will keep you from reaching your desired goals. That doesn’t mean nothing will go wrong, or that obstacles won’t stand in the way. It simply means you won’t allow those things to keep you from doing what you set out to do. You will succeed, no matter what.

Belief is another important factor. Would you set out on a trip across the country if you had no confidence in your ability to complete the trip? Probably not. The expectation of failure is enough to keep most of us from ever embarking on a new venture. And the stronger that expectation is, the less likely we are to even consider it.

But when success is the expected outcome, we’re not so reluctant to try. And the stronger our expectation of success, the more determined we become. We dodge the potholes, ease our way across speed bumps, and roadblocks simply put us on a different path that may prove to be more enjoyable than the one we’re on. The obstacles are the same. All that changes is our reaction to them.

And that reaction is driven by one thing – the expectation of success. When you succeed at everything you do, you expect to succeed at anything you do. Give that some time to sink in. It’s important. When you can look back at a track record of success, no matter how minor, you begin to expect success in everything you do.

We all have that track record of success. You learned to walk. You learned to talk. You learned to read and write and master the multiplication tables. Arriving at work on time is a success. Every job you complete during the day is a success. And the more we focus on those successes, the less we think about failure.

There is nothing you can’t accomplish if you commit yourself to a goal and believe in the outcome. Build the habit of success and nothing will ever stand in your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Make Excuses or Achieve Results – You Can’t Do Both

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

Have you ever set a goal and, halfway through you begin to have that sinking feeling you’ll never make it? It’s even worse when the time is half gone and you haven’t really even started. You get that panicky feeling, and then start to formulate a plan. A plan to get back on track, a plan to get as much done as possible, or a plan to bow out with a handy excuse. At this point, anything will do.

Hopefully that’s not how it works, but all too often we take door number 3. It’s the easy way out. Besides, it was your goal anyway. It’s not like anybody is holding you to the fire, and your job certainly isn’t on the line as a result. You can always just set another goal next month. Right?

We can be very forgiving of ourselves when we miss goals, but we’re not so gracious when somebody else misses theirs. When the cable company says their technician will arrive before noon, and nobody shows up until late in the afternoon, we’re not too happy about that. And odds are we’ve already made several phone calls to complain. At that point, we don’t want excuses – we want results.

But what happens when we miss a goal we’ve set for ourselves? Excuses are not only applicable, they’re a welcome reprieve. That project at work took longer than expected. The car needed new tires. The weather didn’t cooperate. People we were supposed to meet didn’t show. And my personal favorite – “I just ran out of time.”

Okay, if you’re getting the idea I’ve dropped a few excuses over the years, you’re right. I’m no different than anybody else. None of us wants to accept, much less admit, that we came up short because we didn’t try hard enough. There has to be a reason, some other person or force of nature that’s to blame. Otherwise, it’s all on us.

That probably works when we’re explaining it to somebody else, but how well does it work when we say it to the person in the mirror? Sure, the excuse is real. We’re not making it up. And it really did complicate matters a bit. But is that the real reason we didn’t reach our goal? More often than not, it was just a speed bump that we decided to use as a parking bumper.

I talked yesterday about putting forth the effort – just doing what needs to be done, regardless of the results. Jeff Foxworthy, one of my favorite comedians, once shared some thoughts on looking for something we’ve lost. We look high and low, under beds and in the closet. All that time, it’s nowhere to be found. Then finally, there it is … in the last place we looked. Well, duh!

His point was pretty simple – we always find everything in the last place we looked. You wouldn’t keep looking for something after you’ve found it. “I have it right here in my hand, but I want to keep looking just to be sure.” It’s an amusing observation, but it also illustrates another point. You keep looking until you find what you’re looking for. If you stop halfway through, you’ll never find it.

That seems to happen a lot with keys. They even make key fobs that beep when you ping them from your cell phone. If you can find your cell phone. They tend to walk away from the last place we saw them as well. But hey, if there’s another phone in the house, you can always use that one to call your own. Unless you’re like me and the ringer is on silent.

Okay, that was fun, but you get the point. When you’re looking for something you desperately need, you don’t stop until you find it. And the closer you get to crunch time, the harder you look. You enlist help, you pick things up and move them, you flip things over, you do whatever it takes to get the job done. Failure is not an option.

When we approach our personal goals with the same sense of relentless commitment, two things happen. First, we get a lot closer to our goal than we would have with a bag full of excuses. We may not reach our goal, but we’ll get close enough to finish it up with just a little extra effort. And just as importantly, we become the kind of person who doesn’t quit. We become that person who sees everything through no matter what.

Excuses are handy, and they may make you feel a little better at the time. They may even provide a certain amount of cover in explaining failure to others. But at the end of the day, they’re just excuses. Double up your efforts and you won’t have time to worry about excuses. You’ll be too busy racing toward that goal.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Focus on the Effort – The Results Will Come

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

It’s Monday again, and you know what that means. Play time is over and it’s time to get back to the old grind. I say that as if we spend a lot of our weekend playing, and as if going to work on Monday means we’ll work that much more than we did during our “rest” time. But we all know better. The work continues, no matter what day it is. All that changes is the location.

I guess for some folks, things like shopping and cooking burgers on the grill are relaxing. I’d like to meet those people and learn a little about their secret. Because for me, anything that doesn’t involve a sunny beach is work. Any more, even sleeping feels like work. All night long, I’m waking up to adjust my CPAP mask to get it to stop hissing. I think my face changes shape as I sleep.

And I’m pretty sure if I could spend my days on a sunny beach, that’s exactly what I’d do for the first week or two. If I felt really industrious, maybe I could do it for a month. But after a while, I’d find myself looking for other things to occupy my time. Because there’s always that part of us that needs to feel productive. I guess that’s what happens when you work for 45 years.

But more and more, I’m seeing younger people who have decided that working for 45 years isn’t all that glamorous. At least, in the traditional sense. A lot of these folks have a college degree, so it’s not like they can’t find a job. But they’ve decided that life is short (it is) and that waiting until your body is old and frail to get out and enjoy life just doesn’t make sense (it doesn’t).

Some of them work a fulltime job from home, and home is wherever they want it to be. Some travel around and find a different job wherever they happen to be. They may be freelance writers, web designers, software developers, or anything in between. The ways in which they earn an income are as varied as the people doing it. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

The one thing all these people share in common is a burning desire to live life on their own terms, to the extent possible, and a commitment to making that happen. Employers are learning that, when people work from home, they tend to be more productive and take less time off. And the reason is simple. They don’t want anything to jeopardize that working arrangement.

And the truth is, it can be a lot harder to find a job like that than it is to actually do the work. I’ve done a lot of freelance writing over the years, and it’s not for the faint of heart. For every hour I spent working on an assignment, I spent several hours looking for work and dealing with the inevitable rejections and shady employers looking to get something for nothing. It’s a lot of work.

But we tend to be short-sighted when it comes to these things. It’s easy to focus on the short term, with immediate results. You get a job or an assignment, and then get paid. Mission accomplished. But keeping that job requires a little more forward thinking. You have to look at the big picture and put in some extra effort now and then to build a reputation and keep what you’ve worked so hard to find.

But we’re not always so energetic when it comes to things where the payoff isn’t so immediate. We get an idea, visualize the potential rewards, figure out a plan, and take the plunge. Then reality hits. All that work you did last month, and you didn’t make a dime. If you’re lucky, you at least broke even. But how long would you work like that without some kind of tangible reward?

In most cases, the answer is not long. But sometimes, that’s exactly the kind of commitment it takes. It’s called paying dues. And the greater the potential reward, the more dues you’ll have to pay to get there. And that’s not easy to do when the results just aren’t there, or worse yet, when you seem to be sliding backward. It happens. And that’s when it’s time to dig in and work even harder.

The path to success doesn’t change based on results. All we have to do is follow it. There may be speed bumps and detours along the way, but if we stay focused on the effort, the results will come. And at some point, it won’t take as much work to achieve the same or even greater results. All you need is a goal and the determination to make it happen. The rest is simply a matter of time.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Commitment Will Win Over Excuses Every Time

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

Each morning, as I wake up, my brain starts searching for something to write about that day. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think about you folks as I’m going through my morning routine – showering, shaving, getting dressed, and making that all-important first cup of coffee.

Sometimes, I’ll go to bed knowing what I want to write about. If I’m really doing well, I get it written before I call it a night. But that doesn’t happen very often. When you’re 61 and get up before the sun each day, the brain starts slowing down not long after dinner. I always wondered why old people go to bed so early all the time. I’m starting to understand.

So, I get up in the morning and spill out my thoughts, hoping there’s some little thread of inspiration I can share. And I’ll admit, some days are better than others. There are days when the words just flow, and I get a little smug with pride when I’m done. And other days, I give it my best shot and think, “There’s always tomorrow.”

People have asked me how I’m able to do this each day. And the answer is pretty simple – I made a commitment. Sixteen months ago, I decided to get up each morning and share some words of inspiration. Worse yet, I let people get used to it. After a while, they began to expect it, maybe even look forward to it. And the last thing any of us wants is to let down a friend.

Two weeks ago, when we were on the road to Nebraska, I had to skip a day. I wasn’t really able to give advance notice, because it’s not always wise to let the world know you’re going out of town. But before noon that morning, an old friend sent a message saying she missed that day’s post. So, that night, I sat in the hotel and drafted a post for the next day. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

It’s that way with most things in life. Just wanting something isn’t enough. You have to want it badly enough that nothing can stand in your way. It’s all about commitment. Because, until you commit, you’re just thinking about it. You may even go through the motions, but excuses are easy to come by. And any time you need one, life will be more than happy to provide it.

Sure, there will be times when things legitimately get in the way. When I had brain surgery last year, I knew there would be a period of time that I wouldn’t be able to sit at the computer and write. And, thankfully, a close friend saw the dilemma before I even mentioned it and asked if she could fill in. For those of you who were blessed to read Mary’s words, I know you gained from it.

Making a commitment doesn’t mean challenges go away. In fact, they can multiply because you’re no longer just cruising along, taking life as it comes. You’re plowing forward through the defensive line with one objective – reaching the goal. And, trust me, that defensive line will throw some blocks. It may even try to tackle you. But when the goal is clear, none of that matters. You just press on.

I spoke to a friend over this past weekend. We’re in business together, and he’s my mentor. I shared my goals and made a commitment. Then I asked him for one thing – hold me accountable. Because when I’m only accountable to myself, I tend to make excuses. I’ve seen me do it.

But when you make yourself accountable to somebody else, things change. You know that call is coming every week, and the last thing you want to tell them is that you didn’t do any of the things you set out to do over the week. Whether we’ll admit it or not, we all want approval – on the job, at home, amongst family, and in most things we do. It’s just human nature.

It takes work to accomplish our goals. Some things require more effort than others, and the bigger the dream, the more you’ll have to do to achieve it. Until you make a commitment, it’s just a whim. And whims can never stand up to the weight of excuses. You have to decide that nothing can stand in your way – and then back that up with a resolve that can’t be shaken.

And one of the best ways to do that is to make yourself accountable to somebody else – somebody who has your best interests at heart and won’t let you get away with excuses. And maybe you can return the favor or do the same for somebody else. Because, in the act of helping another person succeed, you move closer to your own goals. And what a fantastic way to get there!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Wishbones and Backbones

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

Yesterday, I was reading a post where the writer quoted a long list of things we should teach our sons. I agreed with just about every one of them, because I’ve always believed we need to do a better job of passing strong values on to our kids.

One particular item on the list stood out, because of its sheer simplicity. “Don’t grow a wishbone where the backbone is supposed to go.” I did a little research and found that this quote originated from a writer named Clementine Paddleford, and it was written for daughters, not sons. “Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”

It’s not uncommon for sentiments such as this to be misquoted, or even re-directed. Still, I think the message remains strong, whether we’re talking about sons, daughters, or even ourselves. But, like many other such quotes, it’s easy to take it out of context and miss the meaning entirely.

“Don’t grow a wishbone.” Those four words, taken by themselves, have some pretty strong implications that fly in the face of what I’ve been promoting all this time. I talk about the importance of dreaming, and how it drives us to bigger and better things. And the closing words, “where the backbone ought to be,” could be misinterpreted as well. It would be easy to read this entire statement as, “Don’t dream of the things you want – stand up and demand them!”

And, to be honest, there are people in this world who live by that mantra. If you want something, take it. To the victor go the spoils, and everybody else can just live with their loss or grow a backbone of their own. We’ve all met people like this.

And, the problem with that line of thinking is that it assumes every gain in life must be balanced by a corresponding loss. I’ve been in business a few different times, and something I’ve never understood is the concept of a balance sheet. I guess for accountants, it’s pretty simple. But the notion that assets and liabilities must always balance out to a sum total of $0 is beyond my comprehension.

I read another post this morning, in a comedy forum of all places, that said “A rising tide raises all boats.” Now, there’s something I can understand. And, we’ve talked about this before – the concept that, by elevating those around us, we elevate ourselves as well. When the collective total increases, so does the individual average.

In accounting, balance sheets make sense (I guess). But in life, dreams are not a limited resource, nor are the things that enable our dreams. Money is a renewable resource. So are fancy homes, boats, airplanes, RVs, vacation packages, and just about anything else you can imagine. Winning yours doesn’t mean somebody else has to lose. There’s more than enough to go around.

So, let’s assume Ms. Paddleford wasn’t suggesting we don’t dream, or that we should “grow a backbone” and take what we want. I think the statement goes much deeper than that. To me, it says don’t let your ability to dream overcome your will to achieve. If there’s something you want in life, and you want it badly enough to wish for it, then have the guts to pursue that dream.

In terms of dreams, having a backbone means standing in the face of adversity and saying, “You can make things tough on me, but you can’t make me quit. I’ll stand against you day after day until you give up or just move on to somebody else, because I have already decided this shall be, and there’s no turning back. So, give it your best shot. I’ve got this.”

I doubt you can point to very many things in life that you achieved without any resistance whatsoever. Okay, people who have won the lottery may not agree, but that aside, just about every worthwhile thing you’ve accomplished in life came with some challenges. But determination and commitment carried you to the goal. Simply stated – you didn’t quit.

Should we grow a wishbone? Absolutely! And, unlike the one that comes with our Thanksgiving turkey, we need to make sure our own wishbone isn’t quite so brittle. It needs to be strong and resilient, something that can be bent, but never broken.

And that, my friends, takes commitment. It takes an unwavering belief in our ability to reach the goal, and a determination that nothing will stand in our way. Starting to sound a little like a backbone? I like the way you think!

A wishbone by itself can’t accomplish anything except pipe dreams. A backbone by itself can’t accomplish anything except standing in the way. But when you make the two work together, there’s nothing you can’t do, no goal you can’t achieve. At that point, the world is your playground, just waiting for you to enjoy whatever your heart desires.  

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

© 2018 Dave Glardon

The Time is Now

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

Before I launch into today’s message, I want to thank my good friend Mary Sanders for her messages of inspiration while I’ve been laid up. I know the commitment it takes to do this each day, and I can never thank her enough. Hopefully she’ll continue to share her thoughts with us, because she’s touched each of us more than she will ever know. Please be sure to send Mary your thanks.

My recovery is going really well. It’s hard to believe you can have brain surgery and then go home two days later. The healing has been fast, and right on schedule. But I’m learning why they call this a recovery period. Healing is only part of the battle. Recovery takes a bit longer.

The night before my surgery, my wife and I went out to dinner and had a pretty serious discussion about things we don’t often talk about. You know, the kind of things people our age should have discussed a long time ago, but something else is always more important. Besides, we’re going to live forever, right?

It amazed me how easily the conversation flowed. She asked about some of my preferences, and I answered. No sighs, no tears, just an honest, open conversation. And, as many of our conversations do, it led us to tropical beaches where the water never gets cold.

Both of my wife’s parents made their wishes known – they wanted to be cremated and have their ashes spread at their favorite beach on Florida’s Gulf coast. So, that’s what we did. The whole family had to travel from other areas to get there, but that was their final wish.

And, it occurred to me that we can always find a way to get to those locations after this life is over, so why is it so hard to get there while we’re still alive? Why do we wait for our loved ones to take us on that one final trip instead of being able to enjoy it with them?

We talk a lot about dreams and different ways we can work to achieve them, but something we never really talk about is the concept of “now.” It’s always “one of these days …” And you know what? That’s not a goal. That’s not even really a dream. It’s just a passing thought. Passing, because it’s gone as quickly as it pops up, only to be replaced by a reality that dictates what we can do, and when.

I have a picture of a motorhome over my desk with the words, “If not today, when?” Okay, I checked my bank account and I won’t be sitting in the driver’s seat any time soon. But if I set aside that dream until my bank says it’s time to go shopping, it’ll never happen. I have to get started now.

It’s easy to dream. But committing to that dream means making a conscious decision, followed by action. It’s even more than setting a goal. It’s making a statement that “this shall be.” Not “I want …” or “one of these days I’d like …” If you describe your goal in those terms, you’re still just dreaming.

“This shall be” is a commitment. And it changes your whole mindset. No longer are you worried about how you’ll make it happen. You’ll find a way, because you’ve already decided what the end result will be. Once you’ve made that commitment, nothing can stand in your way.

When a baby decides it’s time to walk, the end result is inevitable. They’ve made up their mind, and no amount of setbacks or obstacles will keep them from their goal. We’re all born with that determination. We use it all through our lives to master new skills, to overcome challenges, and to get the things we want.

And, just as a child learning to walk, once you commit to your dreams … fully commit … the end result is predestined. It’s no longer a matter of if, but when. Suddenly, the impossible becomes not only possible, but inevitable. Roadblocks become detours. Obstacles become speed bumps. And inaction becomes unacceptable. Because you’ve decided “this shall be.”

This isn’t rainbows and unicorns, and it’s not just Dave spreading positivity. If you look back over your life, every worthwhile accomplishment came as the result of commitment, followed by action. It works, and it works every single time. We never fail until we stop trying. And anything you haven’t accomplished yet is still out there waiting. All you have to do is make it happen.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. Sure, work is part of the equation, but it’s not everything. Get out there and live. Build memories. Don’t relegate your dreams to your last will and testament. Make time for them now. Make the decision and commit to it. And don’t let anything stand in your way.

That’s all for now. Have a fantastic day and an awesome weekend!

© 2018 Dave Glardon