Take Life at Your Own Pace – You’ll Enjoy the Ride a Lot More

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

In yesterday’s post, we talked about making the most of our time. Normally, that presents an image of somebody who’s up and running, working from morning till night, cramming something into every minute of their day. And for some people, that works. It suits their personality and gives them energy to do even more. But there are times when we need to slow down and just appreciate the world around us.

The movie Dirty Dancing has been on several times lately. I think the program directors in some of these broadcast stations pick three or four movies for the month and just put them on a loop. During the holidays, there are a few that’ll completely dominate the airwaves. “Hey kid – you’re gonna put “your eye out!” (That was strictly for those of you who love “A Christmas Story.”)

At the end of Dirty Dancing, the owner of an exclusive summer retreat comments that kids don’t want to go to camp with their parents and take foxtrot lessons. “Trips to Europe – 14 countries in three days!” I actually remember a time when travel agencies offered such trips. It sounds like fun until you think about what that means. “Get back on the bus!  We’ve got a schedule to keep!”

When I was in the Navy, we made a port visit to Naples, Italy. I really wanted to see Rome, so I bought a tour ticket. It was only $20 and included everything from the train ride to a full day of sightseeing in one of the world’s oldest cities. I was really looking forward to it.

But at the time, I had a real problem with oversleeping. I couldn’t wake up on time if my life depended on it. And, as luck would have it, I overslept that day. By the time I woke up, the tour had already departed. I was heartsick. I had breakfast and reluctantly decided to go ashore for another day of walking, cheap wine, spaghetti, and negotiating with street vendors for cheesy souvenirs.

But I still had that burn – I wanted to see Rome. So, I went to the USO and asked about getting there. They told me which train to take and suggested taking bus 61 to the USO in Rome, where I could get a map of the city and see the sights on my own. And I had a day I’ll never forget. I didn’t get to see everything I wanted, but I saw most of it.

At the end of the day, as the tour group was on the train headed back to Naples, I was sitting in St. Peter’s Square watching the sun go down. It was the most peaceful moment of my entire life. Sitting at the base of the Vatican Obelisk, a tall spire that likely inspired the Lincoln Memorial, I was captivated by a feeling of complete ease. It was the perfect end to the perfect day.

I was on the move most of the day, simply because there were so many things to see. But I got to see them at my own pace, taking time when I wanted and moving on when I was good and ready. Luckily, bus 61 ran past most of them. And as I think of that day, it stands in complete contrast to the stressed bustle of attempting to see 14 countries in three days.

When we talk about making the most of our time, it doesn’t mean we have to be on the move all day. Sure, you make hay while the sun shines, or so it’s been said. But there’s something to be said for quietly enjoying what’s around us as we plan what we want to do next. It’s hard to focus on your dreams when you’re up to your elbows in work. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is slow down.

It’s in those moments of quiet reflection that we’re able to think more clearly and visualize not only what’s right in front of us, but what we want it to be. It’s a lot easier to imagine a life on the ski slopes while you’re relaxing on a beach than in the middle of your best day at work. Find those quiet moments and let your mind take you where you want to be. When you know the destination, you’re already halfway there.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Wait For Time to Come to You – Reach Out and Grab It

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

Last night, I got together with some close friends for a weekly business meeting. We’re a supportive group, and when one of us has a special need, we set aside some time to rally around them in prayer. Such was the case last night. One is in the hospital battling recurrent cancer, and we were able to give her a call and let her know we’re all thinking about her. Sometimes, it’s the little things that count.

As I drove home, I thought about how in all this talk of dreams and goals, what is the one thing she would want most right now? I doubt it would be anything material, though she did mention she’s keeping her eyes open for single doctors.

But my guess is that if you were to ask her for the one thing she wants most, it would be time. Not necessarily more time to live – for all I know, she may outlive every one of us. But I would bet that she’d like to have more time to enjoy the things she enjoys most – family, friends, travel, adventure, and maybe even a little more quiet time at home. We all need these things more than we may know.

And as I draw closer to the age of retirement, time is a lot more important than it once was. Again, not necessarily time to live, because I don’t plan on checking out any time soon. But I do look forward to having the time to enjoy my family, to play with the kids, to take my wife to some of the countries I’ve seen, and when the mood strikes, to just enjoy quiet time at home.

I remember watching a documentary years ago about a professional stock investor. He earned a seven-figure income by knowing exactly when to buy and sell certain stocks. And, because a stock exchange is always open somewhere in the world, he literally worked around the clock. All through the night, he would be awakened to a phone call advising him of price changes on a particular stock.

I remember thinking, sure, he’s a lot wealthier than I’ll ever be, but who wants to live like that? Hopefully at some point he’ll take a step back and enjoy the income he’s built, but when you work like that every day it becomes more than a job – it’s who you are. It’s what you do, not because you have to or even because you want to, but because it’s the way you’ve conditioned yourself to live.

Of course, any doctor would tell you that working like that is a quick way to put yourself in an early grave. Yet most of us, to a large degree, do the very same thing. We may not have a have people calling at all hours, asking us to make snap decisions in a fog of sleepiness that could affect our portfolio (and that of our investors) by several million dollars. But we do put a heavy emphasis on work.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but what are you working for? Are you working just to pay the bills? Are you working because you want a new car? Are you working because your parents made you? Or are you working to reach a point in life when you can slow down a bit and have time to enjoy the things you’re working for?

Time is one of our most valuable commodities. And yet, we spend very little time doing the things we enjoy. Our days are mostly spent working, whether that’s on a paid job or taking care of things around the house – cleaning, laundry, repairs, lawn care, getting the kids ready for school, and all those other things that consume our day. What little time is left is spent sleeping so we can do it all again tomorrow.

And then comes that day when we don’t have to do all those things anymore. The kids are grown, we downsize into a condo where somebody else takes care of all the maintenance and yard work, and we can finally carve out a little time to do the things we want. Only now, our bodies make some of those decisions for us. We know what we’d like to do – we just can’t actually do it.

Time is not a renewable resource. You get one shot to get it right. If there’s something you want to do, a burning desire that just won’t go away, make it happen. Don’t wait for a better day, or until somebody else tells you it’s time. Because when that day comes, all the money and possessions you’ve accumulated won’t replace the time it took to get there.

We all get 168 hours each week and no amount of money will change that. So, change what you can. Make time work for you. It’s the one thing you have that nobody can take away. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Hard To Improve What You Won’t Take Time to Learn

Good morning! I hope your day (and your week) is off to a great start.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit in on a training session with somebody who had just begun a new venture. It’s always fun to see the excitement in somebody’s eyes as they think of the many things they hope to accomplish and, maybe for the first time in their life, actually feel like they can do some of those things. Doubt is replaced by confidence and imagination takes place of fear.

I’ve been there, sitting in that seat, and thinking of all the things I wanted to accomplish, with somebody offering their time to show me how to do it. And I have to be honest. The whole time, my brain was moving faster than my ears, filtering out the parts I didn’t want to hear. Just tell me the fun stuff. I like fun. All that other stuff is for the people who really need it. I’m different.

If that sounds familiar, welcome to the club. It’s a lot more common than we’d like to think. The first day on a new job, we’re listening and learning, and just as quickly as we’re learning, we’re trying to think of a more efficient way to get the job done better and faster. Okay, maybe not the first day. But it usually doesn’t take long.

And the truth is, there may be a better way. Managers love it when an employee can come up with a new suggestion that saves money and gets things done more efficiently. But sometimes you have to stumble through a lot of messes to come up with something that’s truly better. And unless you’ve been around long enough to get away with that, creativity may not be your best bet.

Sometimes, it’s best to just go with the tried and true formula. There’s a reason they call it that – it’s because it’s been tried a bunch of times, and it works. And sometimes, with all the other ways that something can be done, the first approach was truly the best. I’m sure a lot of people have tried to improve on the basic concept of the wheel, but so far, a perfectly round shape seems to work best.

Many of you are too young to remember when Coca Cola tried to boost sales by “improving” their flagship product. The company spent $40 million in research and taste-tests to find a formula that would put an end to the long-running “cola war” with Pepsi and others. The result was deemed one of the largest marketing blunders in history. Three months later, with $300 million in unwanted product on hand, the company went back to their original formula.

The Ford Motor Company learned a similar lesson years earlier when they attempted to take the automotive market by storm with a car that was so far ahead of its time, nobody wanted it. There were other factors in the Edsel’s failure, but it’s a classic example of how a drastic deviation from the tried and true can sometimes result in complete failure. All told, it cost the company the equivalent of $4.8 billion in today’s dollars.

When we start something new, we want it to be our own. That’s the creative spirit that lies within each of us. It’s the creative spirit that allows us to imagine something beyond our current reality, to dream of something better. And it’s that same creative spirit that often gets in the way when we begin chasing that dream, because we don’t want to do it somebody else’s way – even if it works.

It’s natural to want to come up with great ideas on our own. Every technological advance in history was the result of somebody thinking, “there has to be a better way.” But before you can invent a better way, you must first understand and apply the tried and true method to find out what works and what doesn’t. Or, as Mom always used to say, you have to crawl before you can walk.

Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, you can usually find somebody who’s willing to show you how to do it. And their way may not be the best way – but until you learn what works, it’s hard to improve upon it. Sometimes, we have to be satisfied with steady progress instead of a jump to the end. We have to take time to learn and apply the principles that have been proven over time.

There’s nothing wrong with creativity. The trick is knowing when to apply that creativity, and when to be quiet and listen to somebody who’s been where you are and at least knows how to get you headed in the right direction. Emulate those who have proven what works before you try to improve upon it. Your journey to success may not be immediate, but once you’re on the right path, you can always go a little faster.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Good Health Takes Time – So, What Are You Waiting For?

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

It’s hard to believe, with temperatures in the high 80s, that we’re just a few weeks away from bundling up every morning. Normally by this time of year, we would be seeing some signs of cooler weather. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. Summer could last all year and I’d be perfectly happy. But here in Ohio, the reality is a little less perfect. Winter will come and it will be cold.

Winter is a time of year full of wonder and enjoyment. I love a snow-covered landscape, icicles hanging off the roof, and kids sledding down the hill.  In fact, I could sit inside a toasty house next to the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and stare at it for hours. But sooner or later, I have to go out in it. That’s when I start using words that are not pastor approved. Lots of ‘em.

I guess it’s a good thing that winter brings the holidays, because otherwise people like me would just sit around and sulk. And the more we sit around, the more we keep breathing the same germs that also don’t like the cold, so they just sit inside the house and breed more germs. It’s what doctors affectionately refer to as cold & flu season. And it affects most of us to some degree.

I’ve been lucky in that regard. When everyone around me is sick, I usually breeze through unscathed. If I do get anything, it just sideswipes me. I’ll get a bit of a scratchy throat or a runny nose and that’s about it. In the past few years, I’ve only had one good chest cold. That’s also about the same amount of time I’ve been taking a good plant-based vitamin. Coincidence? Maybe. But I’ll take my chances.

Lots of people start loading up on healthy foods and vitamins in the winter, because they know what’s coming. That usually starts at the first sign of a cold, and as soon as it’s over, the healthy stuff goes back on the shelf. A few weeks later, here it comes again. And we wonder why we can’t stay healthy.

How often do you take your car for an oil change? Do you wait until the engine starts making a funny noise and that flashing idiot light comes on? Or do you follow a schedule of routine maintenance? With colder weather approaching, you might want to have your furnace serviced. If you have a snowblower, now would be the time to crank it up and be sure it’s ready to roll.

We do these things because we anticipate the need, and don’t want to get caught in the cold (no pun intended) when the time comes. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We’ve all heard that, but do we really follow that advice? Is it easier to go to the store when you’re sick and stock up on cold medicine, or to start working on prevention now?

Unlike a car, where we can drain out all the dirty oil and replace it with something new in a few minutes, our bodies aren’t quite that simple. It takes about two months to completely replace your blood supply. Any changes you make that are intended to enhance your body’s ability to fight illness will require at least a couple of months to take full effect. Cold & flu season is two months away. You do the math.

If there’s something you’d do to prevent illness this winter, now is the time to get started. Give your body a head start so you don’t spend all winter fighting off colds and trying to get back to ground zero. Eat healthier. Exercise. Take some good vitamins. The changes you make today could have a profound effect on how you weather the storm.

And once the winter is over, keep up those good habits. If you slide back into your old routine, you’ll find yourself in the same position a year from now – racing the clock to see if you can build your body’s defenses before the first round of colds comes along. And we all know what happens when we try to beat the clock. Sooner or later, we lose.

Good health isn’t just for the winter. It’s not just for those summer vacations. It’s for life – every day, every week, every month, and every year. It’s about making the most of your days instead of spending them in bed. It’s about not only trying to live a little longer, but having the ability to enjoy those extra years.

Good health is the greatest asset to a long and enjoyable life. But like that dirty oil in your car’s engine, sooner or later it’ll demand your attention. It’s always easier and cheaper to avoid problems in the first place. Give yourself a fighting chance. Get started today. You’ll have the rest of your life to be thankful you did.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Have to Think Anyway, Think Big!

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

I remember a day almost thirty years ago when my youngest daughter was sitting on Dad’s living room floor with a Toys R Us catalog, pen in hand, carefully thumbing through page after page. It was about a month before Christmas, so we all knew what she was up to. Well, we thought we knew.

Dad finally looked over and chuckled and said, “If you have to look through a catalog to find something you want, you must not want it all that much.” She just shrugged her shoulders and replied, “I’m not looking for things I want – I’m crossing off the things I don’t want.” That, my friends, is the very essence of thinking big. No sense messing around with small potatoes – go for the gold.

I’m currently reading, or I guess I should say re-reading, The Magic of Thinking Big. It was the first motivational book I ever read, back in the day. The original copyright was 1959, two years after I was born. And two chapters in, I’m finding that it’s every bit as relevant today as it was way back then. I suspect it’s always been that way. It just took until 1959 for somebody to put it in writing.

The concept is pretty simple. We think all the time. We think of things as they are happening all around us, we think of what to expect next, and we think of how we would like things to be. We envision a future. We dream. We want. These thoughts are going through our head every second of the day. And if we’re going to think anyway, why not think big?

Every modern convenience, every medical advance, every technological achievement, was the result of somebody looking at things as they were and thinking of something better. Some of those came as the result of gradual improvement, but most were the result of thinking big.

The first cell phone I ever saw was on a cartoon back in the 1960s. It may not have been under development at the time, but somebody had already dreamed that it would someday be a reality. It takes unlimited vision to imagine such things. Or, what corporate executives like to call “thinking outside the box.” Don’t be constrained by what is – think of what could be.

We all have dreams. But how big are yours? Take a look around. Much of your life, as it exists today, was once a dream. You dreamed of driving your own car. You dreamed of living in a comfortable home. You dreamed of a job that would pay the bills. You worked to achieve these things and celebrated at least a little when you achieved them.

Maybe what you have today isn’t exactly what you dreamed of, but here’s the real question – did you ever dream of anything much greater? As you were looking at homes, did you look for what you really wanted, or what you thought you could afford? Did you apply for the job you really want to have, or the one you think you’re qualified for?

Okay, we all have to live within certain boundaries, but only for the moment. I live in the home I could afford at the time. But that doesn’t mean I have to live here forever. I look at waterfront homes and think, “Man, would that be nice!” Well, it would. And I could find out if I really wanted to badly enough. It would take time, but I’ve got time. I’ve got the rest of my life. And so do you.

Get out this weekend and take a drive. You know, in that part of town. The part where the homes are bigger, the cars are a little nicer, the lawns are nicely manicured, and the streets are always freshly paved. You know the difference between their life and yours? They didn’t limit their dreams to their current reality – they dreamed of something better. And just like you, they’re still dreaming.

What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. You’ve heard those words before. All it takes is imagination, belief, conviction, and effort. And here’s the thing – you had to employ every one of those elements to achieve the life you’ve got. Imagine where you could be if you’d just stretched that a bit.

If you have to think anyway, think big! The CEO of your company works about the same number of hours as you do. It takes the same amount of effort to create their lifestyle as it did to create yours. You can achieve any goal, no matter how great or how small. So, don’t let your imagination hold you back. Think big. Dream big. Then chase those dreams. You’re closer than you think.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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

Don’t Let the Job Description Keep You Out of the Game

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

Yesterday at work, I was asked to go through my job description, line by line, and indicate whether I actually do all those things on a fairly regular basis. On the one hand, it can feel like you’re ratting yourself out on the things you don’t do. But in reality, it’s a good exercise to go through, especially as we’re trying to hire more people on the team. It lets the bosses know what we really do each day.

I learned years ago that job descriptions are little more than a wish list dreamed up by eager managers with a little help from somebody in Human Resources who has absolutely no idea what’s required in that role. Nothing against HR reps, that’s just the way it is. The finished product usually covers most of the important items, but with a lot of fluff.

Have you ever looked over a job description and talked yourself out of it without even applying, simply because it lists a bunch of things you’re not sure you can do? I almost did that thirty years ago. It was a job as an electronics technician, and in everything on the job description I had the experience. All except one – “Must be able to use a spectroscope.” I’d never heard of one, much less used one.

I started to talk myself out of applying, and finally thought okay … I can learn how to use just about any piece of test equipment. If I get the job, I’ll just go in, take one look at it, and say “We used a different kind in the Navy. Can you show me how to use this one?”

Well, I got the job, and over the course of almost ten years, I never saw a spectroscope in that company. They didn’t own one. As it turns out, the manager who wrote the job description didn’t know much about the job. He was thinking of an oscilloscope, and couldn’t remember the name, so he wrote the first thing that came to mind – spectroscope. I’d used dozens of different oscilloscopes.

Had I put too much emphasis on that one line in the job description, I’d have never even applied for that job. I worked there for almost ten years and, during that time, transitioned from electronics technician to technical writer, a career change that’s taken me in a completely different direction and has led to where I am today. And I could have chickened out and missed it all.

The same thing happens when we look at people who have attained a level of success that’s higher than our own. We’d like to live like they do – a bigger house, nicer cars, better vacations, more family time, and a daily lifestyle that comes with having the means to make each day whatever you want it to be. Wouldn’t that be nice?

But as we look at these people, we begin to justify why they’re where they are and why we’re not. We think maybe they’re a little smarter or got a better education in the things that count. Maybe they were born into wealth and all they have to do is maintain it. They’re younger, better looking, more popular, or just plain lucky. There has to be something they have that we don’t.

And the truth is, they don’t have a thing on you except a little bigger resume of accomplishments. You’re writing their job description as you think it should be, with qualifications that would make them laugh. They know better. They know there’s nothing all that special about their abilities that led them to success, other than the willingness to work past their shortcomings and get the job done.

These are the people who, if they’re being completely honest, would look at you and say, “You have everything it takes to be right where I am. You have all the experience, all the knowledge, and all the ‘special gifts.’ All you lack is the acknowledgment of your own abilities, and the confidence to do something about it.”

Some people will always achieve more than others. We can’t change that. But to look at those super-achievers and think they have something you don’t is like talking yourself out of a dream job because of one line in the job description. You’re up to the task. You have what it takes. And whatever you don’t know, you can learn. Give in to your dreams. The life you want is waiting for you to claim it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved