Don’t Just Look Ahead – Look Forward

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

It’s hard to believe this year is almost over. I read a post last night that said the way this year has gone, after 11:59 pm tomorrow, the clocks will change to 11:60 and just keep going from there.  It’s like all those butter-tub leftovers in Mom’s refrigerator. Some of those things are NEVER going away.

On the other hand, woe be to the person who dares to open one up, especially if the lid is bulging. You take those things straight to the dumpster, in tongs, at arm’s length, and still wear protective clothing. I think that’s the way 2020 will be. Throw it out and don’t dare take a peek to see what you missed. You can thank me later.

It’s been said that there’s a reason the windshield is a lot bigger than the rearview mirror. I guess that means what’s coming is more important than what’s passed. Besides, if there’s a semi with no brakes coming from behind, it’ll fill that mirror soon enough. And when you stop spinning, whatever was in the rearview may be in the windshield. Then it’s important again.

On the other hand, I once rode a rollercoaster where the trains on one track were facing backward. A mirror sure would have been nice there. Not that it would have done any good, because once you start up that first hill, you’re just along for the ride anyway. Oddly enough, it was a smoother ride not seeing what was coming. Facing forward, I always got beat up.

Sometimes, not seeing the future is a blessing. If we knew everything that was going to happen long before it does, we’d just spend that time worrying about the bad stuff and trying to make the good even better instead of just enjoying the ride. Oftentimes, I’ll ask my wife what she wants for dinner, and she just says, “Surprise me.” Okay, I only fell for that once.

There’s that part of us that needs to have a plan and know what to expect. It’s especially true with men. I think women are a lot less rigid about that, because they can always blame us. But statistics show that women, on average, live longer than men. Could it be that all the worry and planning and anticipation not only takes the fun out of life, but shortens it as well?

Besides, if you knew exactly what was going to happen, what would you do to change it? What could you do? I guess that depends what’s coming. If it’s a bill that’ll come due next month, you can spend that time trying to earn a little extra money. If it’s a tornado in the next county, all you can do is hunker down and hope for the best.

It all goes back to the serenity prayer. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom always to know the difference.” Powerful words. Yet it’s something we never seem to fully embrace, because we want the power to change everything. You know, so we can screw that up as well.

Knowing what to expect every minute of the day means you don’t have to put any thought into what you’re doing now or what you’ll do next. And the moment we stop thinking, creativity goes right out the window. Sure, you know what’s coming. You have a plan. And your plans never change because you know the outcome already. Boring!

Some of life’s greatest moments come when we least expect them. A race car driver learns to steer out of a sideways slide in one instant of unexpected drama. A chef creates a masterpiece recipe by substituting one ingredient when they run out of the other. And businesses learn a whole new way of marketing when a virus closes their stores.

Sure, one day the race car driver looks like a hero and the next day they spin out of control and hit the wall. Sometimes the chef creates a legendary recipe, and sometimes it can’t go in the trash fast enough. And, sometimes new ideas change the face of business forever, and other times it’s like the “New Coke.” I’m betting a few executives lost their jobs over that one.

But as long as we straddle the rails on the known path, we never push ourselves to try anything different. We take life exactly as it comes, with no thought of changing anything. And yes, change is scary. Sometimes it leads to disaster. But life’s greatest successes came as the result of somebody stepping off the rails and trying something new.

Look ahead, not to see everything that’s coming, but to see the opportunity that’s waiting. Embrace obstacles. Learn from every mistake and gain from every loss. You already know how the story ends, so don’t let the bumps and dips spoil the ride.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Can’t Have Green Grass Without a Little Bit of Poop

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

You know how you buy something, hoping you’ll never need it, but you think it’s a good idea anyway? Like car insurance. Nobody wants to use car insurance. We hope we’ll never need it. But it’s one of those necessary evils. Too bad the deductible is more expensive than the window some idiot shot out with a BB gun. For that matter, it’s more than the value of the whole car.

Well, I got through the weekend without having to call a claims adjuster. But I do remember telling my wife about a month ago that we should buy a first aid kit for the RV. Because, accidents happen. Especially when a clod like me is walking along, looking down at the ground, completely oblivious to the bedroom slide that’s sticking out right in front of his head. WHAM!!!

I didn’t knock myself out, but I did have to re-level the coach after I picked myself up. It’s not like I hit the corner from not stepping far enough to the side. That would be too easy. No, I walked right into this thing full speed ahead. There’s a gear track along the side that’s used for opening and closing the slide. The top of my head has six perfectly spaced holes to match that gear.

On a positive note, it did get me out of making the bed that morning. Small victory, but that’s a tough job. You’d think somebody would invent some kind of tongs to grab the sheets and blanket and tuck them into a crevice three feet beyond the reach of any normal human being. I’m thinking a fireplace poker may get the job done. But only if she’s not watching.

Right about now, some of you are racing through your brain to come up with some kind of bed-making solution that every RV owner on the planet will pay big bucks to buy. All I ask is that you send me a free prototype since I’m the one who gave you the idea.

The whole purpose of this outing was to simply run the coach through its paces, make sure everything works, and figure out what we still need to buy. I did get it weighed yesterday, and we’ve got another 1200 pounds to go before we start overloading the suspension. I’m not sure how that translates into shopping dollars, but I have a feeling we’ll find out.

One thing I haven’t been able to figure out yet is our dog. He loves to go for a walk, and he marks every tree, shrub, stop sign, fire hydrant, and tall weed along the way. No inhibitions whatsoever. Until it’s time to poop. He still hasn’t figured out that it’s okay to do that on a leash. Well, not ON the leash, but you get the idea. I’m thinking a fireplace poker … never mind.

Yes, with men it all comes down to fires and the implements that allow us to create and exercise dominion over them. With my wife, it’s about placemats and bedspreads and napkins and rugs and vacuum cleaners and how do I manage to track in so much dirt every time I walk inside? Um, because it’s there. Duh!

Every new adventure comes with new challenges, new joys, new heartaches, and apparently, the occasional injury. The alternative, of course, is to never try anything different. But that means never knowing what might have been. Every married couple tried something new. Every parent took a risk. Everybody who has ever been employed gave it a shot.

Life is about opening doors to see what’s on the other side. It’s about setting goals and chasing dreams. And it’s about accepting the risk that things won’t always be just perfect. But it’s in those moments of imperfection that we find a spark of creativity to solve life’s most difficult challenges. Like making a bed that was never intended to be made.

Unless we’re willing to accept those moments of imperfection and the risks they present, we’re destined to stay right where we are for the remainder of our lives. To most of us, that’s a risk we’re not willing to take. We do want more. We want to accomplish more. And the only way to do that is to stretch your boundaries and try something completely new.

You were born to thrive, not just survive. Make the most of every moment, and never let an opportunity slip past. It may not be the opportunity you were hoping for, but it may be just the one you need. And isn’t that what really matters?

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Adversity is the Teacher – Creativity is the Result

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

Yesterday was an especially productive day. I tackled something new at work, or I should say, new to this particular role. It’s work I’ve done before, just not exactly in this context. So, I had a little past experience to tap on, and a little leeway to adapt that experience for this particular application. That’s when you really feel like you’re earning your keep. It felt good.

In almost every job description I’ve ever read, the word “creativity” is in there in some form. They want you to be creative. And that begins with the resume. “Wow, this is impressive!” Yeah. And if you think that’s good, give me an hour or two and I can make it even better! Okay, I’m giving away secrets I should probably be keeping to myself. But you get the idea.

There are times in life when creativity is exactly what’s needed, and other times when it can be your worst enemy. As I write my morning posts, it’s imperative that I can apply a little creative thought. But if your job involves assembling nuclear weapons, it’s best to stick to the script. There’s no room for creativity in a job like that. Just do what you’re told and nothing more.

When we’re starting something new, we generally prefer detailed instructions. I’ve done my job, in various forms, for the past 21 years. I’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and I can pretty much figure out anything I’m asked to do. But, starting a new job, I want a little more instruction. I know what works – I just don’t know what my employer wants to see. The two aren’t always the same.

That’s why we ask a lot of questions. The answers may not always make sense, and sometimes we’re thinking, “Seriously? That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. There’s a LOT better way to get that done.” But we do what we’re told to do and save those creative suggestions for later.

And sometimes, in following those instructions, we learn a different way of getting the job done. It may not necessarily be a better way, but in certain situations it could be the only way. What would happen if you couldn’t find the right tool, or if your preferred program on the computer suddenly crashed? That’s when a combination of the boss’ way and your old way can come in handy.

We gain experience through adversity – having to figure out a situation that’s not ideal and working our way through it. And that’s where creativity is born. It’s easy to screw in lightbulbs all day. But when a bulb breaks off at the base as you’re installing it, there are no written instructions to help you get the broken base back out. You figure out a solution and move on.

Funny, one of the oldest tricks in the book on that one is to cut a raw potato in half and use it to remove the broken light bulb base. Now, how many electricians carry a raw potato in their toolbox? It was just a crime of opportunity. After several unsuccessful attempts to correct the situation, somebody saw a bag of potatoes and thought, “Hmmm …”

That’s how creativity works. Sometimes we’re able to look at something and a light goes off in our brain. Other times, we have to stumble through several failed attempts before we accidentally find something that works. But it’s not really accidental – it’s a process of elimination. It’s a methodical approach to problem-solving that we learned early in life, long before we took our first steps.

Creativity is simply the ability to put those skills to work. It’s not a section of the brain that, for one person, is bigger than it is for others. And it’s not like any one of us is more gifted than others in that regard. It’s a natural ability in each of us that some just choose to use more than others.

Instructions get us started in the right direction. They give us the basics and help form the foundation for success. But it’s creativity that lets us achieve a higher level of success. If every one of us did the same thing the same way every day, we’d all end up at the same destination. Think it might be a little crowded?

To reach a different destination, we have to do something everyone else isn’t doing. We have to go the extra mile. And more often than not, that extra mile isn’t even on the map. It’s something we find through a combination of experience, opportunity, and just putting ourselves in a position to find it. Success presents the way when we put ourselves in a position to succeed.

Creativity isn’t something that’s limited to the fortunate few. You’ve got it. Let the foundational instructions put you in a position to succeed, and then use your creativity to cross the finish line.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Sometimes the Well-Trodden Path is Still the Best

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

I’ve talked a lot this week about creativity and thinking outside the box. I guess it all goes back to the old adage that insanity is doing the same thing the same way every day and expecting different results. We all know that if we want things to change we have to try something different. But sometimes, things are working just fine and then we get creative and throw a wrench in the spokes.

When I got up this morning, the bathroom scale gave me an encouraging sign – my weight is finally starting to go back down. I didn’t really gain that much over this last stumble off the wagon, but I had been headed steadily in the right direction until I decided I was smart enough to tweak things a little. After all, will a cheeseburger and fries really make that much difference?

With most things in life, small changes can make a big difference. Sometimes we need to make those small changes to speed things up a bit. And other times, we need to just stick with what works. Anybody who’s ever started a small two-stroke engine, like that on a weed-eater, knows exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t hold your mouth just right, you’ll be there all day.

Some changes will make things better. Some don’t seem to make any difference at all, but they do. The impact just isn’t as readily apparent, but over time it’ll show. And other changes, like ditching the meal bars in favor of a cheeseburger, have exactly the result we’d expect. Granted, sometimes you need to indulge a little. But when “sometimes” becomes every day, we have a problem.

On your job, you were likely taught to do things a certain way. With many computer programs, you have to do things in a specific sequence to get the desired result. Mop the floor before you sweep it and you’ll end up with a muddy mess. And anybody who’s ever tried using vise-grips instead of a socket wrench knows the inevitable result of that mistake.

On the other hand, there was a point in history when somebody set down a hand saw, rubbed their arm, and thought, “There has to be a better way. What if the saw could move itself back and forth? But the mechanism required to do that would consume a lot of energy. So, what if we changed the shape of the saw? What if we made it a circle? Then all we’d have to do is spin it really fast.”

Granted, the saws of the day were pretty impressive. And so were the biceps of the people using them. It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention. And all through history, ordinary people have dreamed up some of the things that make our lives so much simpler every single day. Cars, airplanes, computers, power tools, kitchen appliances … the list goes on and on.

My dad was an aircraft mechanic for nearly fifty years, and he taught me most of what I know about tools and how to fix things. Granted, there came a time when I had to try something he’d never shown me, like replacing disc brakes or rebuilding an engine. But the basics of what he’d taught me were the foundation for all those new learning experiences.

I made mistakes along the way, and I’m sure he did, too. That’s all part of it. But when we learn the basics from somebody with the skills and experience to teach us right, the results can be pretty impressive. It’s when we try to toss their advice aside and do things our own way that we get in trouble.

We all know the things we should be doing. And, even though there’s that part of our brain that really wants to come up with a better way, sometimes it’s best to shut that down for the time being and just follow the plan. When the team is ahead by forty points, the coach can afford to run new plays. But when the score is zero, you stick with what works.

There’s a time for creativity and a time to just follow directions. Success is all about knowing when to do what. And, more often than not, if we just follow the lead of those who have gone there before us, we’ll at least find ourselves on the right path. Once we reach our destination, we can think about better ways to get there.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved