You Can Only Achieve What You Believe

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

I read a quote yesterday that struck a nerve and made me think a little. Actually, I think it was the title of a motivational CD. I have a few of those. Like a couple hundred. I just like the sound of somebody telling me I can achieve greater things in life. There are certainly enough people out there trying to convince me otherwise. The title of this CD was “You will see it when you believe it.”

That’s a bit of a reversal on something most of us have said over the years – “I’ll believe it when I see it!” And all it means is don’t give me empty promises, give me results. The advertising world is full of empty promises. Only Fifth Avenue could come up with the concept of a better sex life by using a certain brand of dandruff shampoo. Well, I tried it for several years. Let’s just leave it at that.

So, with anything that’s even slightly beyond what we already know to be true, it’s natural to approach new things with a certain amount of skepticism. We want proof, or at least a decent level of confidence in the outcome, before we invest our time and effort into achieving the desired result. We want to see the result first. Only then will we believe it can actually happen.

Of course, it doesn’t quite work that way. You can get a glimpse of success by looking at the success of others, but that doesn’t really do trick. You can go to the RV dealership and take a test drive, but there’s still that nagging issue of having the money to drive it home. You can kick back in the boss’s chair after he goes home for the day, but tomorrow morning you’ll be back in your own cubicle.

Make no mistake, there’s something to be said for dream-building. If you never drove through a neighborhood of waterfront homes, it might be hard to feed the dream of owning one. And sitting in the driver’s seat of a new car can definitely fuel the urge to buy one. There’s a reason dealers are so eager to let you take a test drive. They understand the value of dream-building as well.

But unless you believe you can someday reach your goal, you’ll never put forth the effort to make it happen. If you knew you could never advance in your present job, how late would you work each day? But if you saw other people around you being promoted on the basis of competence and hard work, you’d probably be a lot more willing to put in those extra hours.

Armed with the belief that success could be within reach, you’ll work that much harder. And the harder you work, the greater your odds of success. But without that confidence, your efforts will be half-hearted and you’ll probably give up at the first sign of resistance. When we believe failure is the likely result, it’s not hard to find reasons to support that notion.

But when we believe we can succeed, we begin to find reasons to support that belief as well. We put in the extra effort and work through any obstacles that may come along. Before long, those obstacles don’t seem as prevalent. Things start going your way. You find yourself moving closer to your goal every day, and with each step closer your belief becomes that much stronger.

Success and defeat are not verbs. There’s no action involved other than the efforts we take to make them happen. They’re not even really destinations or outcomes. They’re nothing more than a frame of mind. And when we approach any new goal, the outcome depends almost completely on our frame of mind. Whatever outcome you believe is almost always the outcome you’ll achieve.

And we can believe just about anything if it’s what we want to believe. Religion teaches us to believe in something we can’t see. We go to work each day believing there will be a paycheck at the end. We raise our kids believing they will achieve even greater success than we have.

We could just as easily believe the opposite to be true. We could disavow any notion of spiritual guidance. We could work as if the company would cheat us out of our pay. And we could raise our kids with the expectation that they’d fail miserably in life. And the outcome would almost always be less than optimal.  

Believe in success and you will see success. Maybe not at the level you’d imagined, and maybe not as quickly as you’d hoped. But you’ll always achieve a higher level of success than you would have by accepting defeat. Success and defeat are just a frame of mind that sets you on a path toward an inevitable outcome. You’ll see it when you believe it. So, believe in something you really want to see.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

As Long As There’s Hope, The Dream is Still Alive

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

It’s hard to believe the weekend is here again. Or, depending on your perspective, it could seem like it took forever getting here. For myself, that feeling changes through the week, and sometimes even throughout the day. It just depends what kind of day I’m having. Can I get an amen?

We all have good days and we all have some pretty lousy days. Between the stress of work, bills to pay, errands to run, and chores stacking up, some days can try our very soul. Throw in kids testing our patience and the occasional (I hope) disagreement with our significant other, and sometimes it feels like we’ll never get back on top. Then along comes a good day to bring it all back into balance.

It would be nice if life worked that way but, for most of us, a good day here and there doesn’t really bring everything back into balance – it just makes it easier for us to endure those other days as we wait for another good one to come along. Or maybe even a few in a row. Wouldn’t that be something?

Hope is what gives us the strength to carry on through those tough days. Hope that we’ll get this project finished on time. Hope that we’ll mend our relationships. Hope that we’ll lose that extra weight or get through this current illness. If it weren’t for hope, there’d be no sense trying.

If you took a jar, filled it with fleas, and then put a glass cover on top, the fleas would try to escape. They’d jump up, bump into the glass, and fall back down. In time, they’d realize the cover was there and jump just short of it. At that point, you could remove the cover and the fleas would stay in the jar. They’d never jump out, because they’d never know they could. They’d just stay in that jar and die.

It’s the same with hope. If you thought you could never accomplish a goal, you wouldn’t even try. If you tried and failed enough times in a row, it would be easy to quit. And if you didn’t think all your effort would someday lead to a more enjoyable existence, you’d probably stop trying. Meanwhile, that glass cover may have been removed, allowing you to jump as high as you want. If only you knew.

Every night, my dog wants to get in bed with me. He doesn’t really want to sleep there – he just wants to snuggle for a few minutes. And before any of you “no dogs in the bed!” types get your feathers ruffled, it’s my dog and my bed. He gets a bath, and he’s never had a single flea. Besides, he’s not a pet – he’s a member of the family.

Anyway, every night he stands at the end of the bed and whines as he makes anywhere from three to ten false starts at the single jump that’ll put him where he wants to be. It’s like he’s looking up at that mattress, wondering how we keep raising it higher every night, and his little brain is saying, “I think I can, I think I can!” Finally, he works up the nerve and makes the jump. He does this every single night.

It’s cute, but it illustrates an important point. The goal is right where it was from the beginning. It hasn’t moved and it’s not like we’ve surrounded it with a moat and stone towers. It’s just as accessible every night as it was the night before. All that’s changed is an eight-year-old dog’s confidence in his ability to reach the top.

We’re not so different. We see a goal and decide it’s something we want. We reach out and it’s not quite close enough. So, we take a step or two and we’re still not there. Then something gets in our way and we have to deal with that. Then something else comes along, and something else after that. After a while, we don’t reach out quite as far, because we’re not quite sure we’ll ever get there.

But here’s the thing – the goal hasn’t moved. It’s still right there where it was. And, unless we’ve taken a step backward, we’re no further away than we were before. What stops us from reaching that goal isn’t the obstacles that pop up along the way – it’s simply our perception of those obstacles and the power we think they wield. It’s a lack of hope.

No matter what kind of day you’re having, your goals are still out there waiting to be achieved. They say it’s always darkest before the dawn. And when the sun finally comes up, you often find yourself even closer to your goal than you’d imagined. As long as you stay focused and never lose hope, you’ll get there. And just think how much better it’ll feel when you do!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Swing Like You Mean It!

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

My office at work is right across the street from a minor-league baseball stadium. You can always tell when the team is in town for a home game, because of all the fanfare in and around the stadium. And the home team has as many die-hard fans as any major-league team. They just don’t have to pay quite as much to watch a good game.

As a young boy, I loved playing baseball. That is to say, I loved putting on the uniform, biting off a big chunk of bubble gum, and standing out there in right-field pretending somebody would actually hit a ball in my general direction. Let’s just say I spent a lot of time kicking daisies off their stems.

And when it was my turn at bat, there was little doubt I’d be heading back to the dugout empty-handed. The only way I got on base was if the pitcher couldn’t throw three balls in the strike zone. I’d swing – sometimes. But even when I did, it was a half-hearted swing because I had accepted defeat before I ever stepped up to the plate.

I always thought failure is probably one of the worst feelings in the world. Years ago, my wife and I owned a NASCAR souvenir shop. We built it from nothing – a few ball caps, some tee shirts, and a display of coffee mugs in the local flea market. We grew that into a fully-stocked weekend store, then opened a kiosk in the local shopping mall, and finally went into a real retail storefront.

I’ll never forget those last two days after the “Closed” sign was placed in the window for the last time. There were boxes to pack, full of items nobody wanted. There were shelves and racks and display cases waiting for somebody to haul them away for half what we paid. Finally, our name was removed from the front window, and it was official – we had failed. Life was pretty bleak.

But as bad as it feels to fail, it’s even worse stepping up to the plate expecting failure, knowing that no matter how hard you try, it’s the inevitable result. In baseball I didn’t swing as hard. I’d look at a perfect pitch and hope the umpire went temporarily blind. In my store, I’d sit behind the sales counter watching cars go by instead of making phone calls. The shelves were dusty. I just quit trying.

I’m sure every one of you has been there. Nothing seems to go right, and each thing that goes wrong becomes just one more example in a litany of excuses for why it was never going to work. After a while, you become your own worst enemy. You hang your head and look for new excuses. And when none present themselves without any effort, you make things go wrong. You’ve long since given up on the idea of success – all you want right now is validation for failure.

Missing a goal feels pretty bad. Do it a bunch of times in a row, and it can really start to wear you down. After a while, you look around at other people who aren’t even trying and begin to think maybe they know something you don’t. You’re over here beating your head against a brick wall and they’re lounging around in the back yard with frozen cocktails. It’s not hard to envy that life.

And then your subconscious mind kicks in and regurgitates every negative thought in its arsenal. “What made you think you could do this? You had to know you’d fail. If it was that easy, everybody would be doing it. How much time have you wasted when you could have been enjoying life? You wouldn’t be feeling this way if you’d never set a goal in the first place. Just give up!”

If any of that sounds familiar, welcome to the human race. It happens to all of us. And the more it happens, the more we begin to believe it. Negative thoughts can be pretty convincing, especially in the absence of success. And with every failure, those negative thoughts just get stronger. It’s like pouring gas on a fire except, after a while, the fire begins to pour gas on itself.

It’s only when we put those negative thoughts behind us and replace them with a newfound confidence that we can turn those failures into successes. Approach a goal with the expectation of success and your odds increase exponentially. With every swing, expect a hit and be ready to run to first base when it happens.

Step up to the plate. Swing confidence and conviction and keep doing it no matter how many times you miss. That perfect pitch is coming, so be ready when it happens. This is your time to shine.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Advice Can Change Dreams In An Instant

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

Have you ever decided there was something you were going to do, a goal you wanted to accomplish, but you didn’t want to tell anybody else? Making the commitment to do something positive should be one of the happiest moments of our life (aside from actually accomplishing it), but all too often we hold it in because we don’t want to deal with the inevitable responses.

You see, when you share a dream with somebody, rarely do they just say, “That’s awesome!” There’s always a more in-depth response, usually focused in one of three directions. Quite often, they’ll try to talk you out of it, explaining all the reasons it’ll never happen. You know, “for your own good.”

Others will tell you what a great idea it is, and how much they hope you succeed, because they want to be in your inner circle in case you actually succeed. But all too often, those same people are having a laugh at your expense around the water cooler. “Did you hear what Jim’s trying to do? And he thinks he can pull it off! I think he’s got a screw loose.”

And then, there’s that very small group who gives your plans a little thought, and then says, “You know what? That’s awesome! And I know you can do this. How can I help?” Okay, it’s not usually a group, even a small one. If you could find one or two people who respond in that manner, you’re among the truly blessed. Hang onto friends like that. They’re pretty rare.

But consider this – when somebody shares their dreams with you, how do you react? Do you look at the possibilities instead of the challenges? Do you focus on the qualities of that person that makes them most likely to succeed? Do you point out those attributes? Do you build their confidence? Do you offer to help?

More often than not, the reason we don’t share our dreams with others is because we know how we’d respond if they shared the same dream with us. We mean well. But nobody wants to see a friend bang their head against the wall trying to accomplish something the whole civilized world knows is impossible. Right?

So, instead of offering help and encouragement, we offer advice … well-intended, but very often, badly misinformed. Because, unless you’ve already done what they’re trying to do, you really don’t know what it takes to be successful. You may have read stories or heard people talk of their own failures. But that’s all second-hand knowledge. In a court of law, it would be inadmissible.

And, in all honesty, it’s inadmissible in the mind of the person receiving your advice. They don’t want to hear it. They’ve already decided to do something grand, and the last thing they want to hear is a litany of reasons they can’t succeed. So, all that insight you shared so freely goes in one ear and out the other. You may as well have saved your breath.

It would be great if that’s how the story ends. But it’s not. Because when you share your thoughts with another person, they don’t just go in one ear and out the other. A little bit sticks somewhere in the middle, whether the recipient wants it or not. It falls onto the subconscious, a place in the brain where every thought is truth, and every opinion is fact.

You may not have talked your friend out of their dream, but you have planted the seeds of doubt in their mind. They begin to question something that, before you came along, seemed certain. Let a few other people share similar thoughts, and before long failure becomes the expected result. They can’t shake that nagging thought – “Why are you even trying this? You know it’ll never work!”

When you see somebody who’s about to make a huge mistake, it’s natural to speak up. But there’s a fine line between keeping somebody safe and holding them back. And here’s the question – is it a huge mistake in your mind, or in theirs? What is the real cost? A little time? Some money? The ridicule of people who don’t share their vision? Maybe that’s a risk they’re willing to take.

Before you offer that advice, consider the potential impact against your expertise and motives. As a friend often says, there are a lot of thousandaires offering advice on becoming a millionaire. And there are a lot of entry-level workers with opinions on what it takes to become an executive.

Keep that in mind, as you offer advice to others and as you receive it from them. Every thought that enters our brain, verbally or otherwise, finds a resting place where it can have a profound effect on our ability to succeed. Make sure the thoughts you share and receive are worthy of that power.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved