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