Is Comfort Holding You Back?

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

I’ve been bad about getting my posts out each morning. I could make some excuses for that, but the bottom line is I just haven’t done it. There’s something about not having to get up for work each day that changes the whole routine. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been up, most days at the same time as before. But I have to admit, I’ve allowed my days to start off a lot slower than before.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re all creatures of habit. Some more than others, and I tend to fit into that category really well. I used to be spontaneous, but somewhere along the line I found a level of comfort in repetition and settled into a groove. That groove has served me well over the years, but I’d like to start shaking things up a little. You know, just enough to keep it interesting.

We’ve talked about this before, but comfort is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives you peace of mind. You know what to expect, and as long as nothing comes along to upset your routine, you can go through the day without much challenge. Life is good, and that’s the way you want it to be.

On the other hand, comfort breeds laziness. I’m not talking about kicking back on a beach after a year of working every day and saving money so you could spend a few days in a tropical paradise. That’s reward. You’ve earned it. But when you go back home, if you slip back into that routine of going to work every day and planning next year’s vacation, that’s your comfort zone.

That sounds counter-intuitive. I mean seriously, work is your comfort zone? Well, if it’s what you do every day without thinking about it too much, that’s exactly what it is. It’s your daily routine and you don’t dare shake things up. Because that involves risk – you know what to expect every day, even if it’s not something you really love. But it pays the bills and puts food on the table. Case closed.

Hopefully you’ve got a job that provides for your daily needs and lets you take that annual pilgrimage to the beach, or wherever you like to unwind. But here’s a crazy thought. What if you worked a little harder and took two trips to the beach instead of one? Maybe you could buy a condo and go there any time you want. What if you moved into that condo and could stroll the beach every day?

If you can dream it, you can do it. But accomplishing those dreams means doing something different, maybe something you’ve never done before. It means stepping outside your comfort zone. It might mean taking some classes or spending a little extra time at work learning a new skill. Maybe it means taking a second job and investing your paycheck. Or maybe even starting a business of your own.

Think for a moment about your greatest dream. Not a weekend vacation or a new car, but something really big. Now, ask yourself this question – if I knew that doing a certain thing each day would eventually lead me to that dream, would I do it? Then, ask yourself one more question. Within the bounds of legal and moral standards, is there anything I wouldn’t be willing to do?

That last question is important, because it exposes the limits of your comfort zone. Would you be willing to talk to strangers? Would you be willing to work a few extra hours every week? Would you be willing to learn a completely new skill, or study a topic that never caught your interest before? Would you be willing to travel to places you’ve never heard of, where nobody else wants to go?

As you enjoy your next vacation, take a good look around. There are people just like you who get to do this once a year and will soon head back to a routine existence that, if they’re lucky, will let them do it again sometime. And there are others who do this all the time, who will leave this destination for another one. The difference between them lies within their own personal comfort zone.

It’s good to be comfortable. We work for it, and we deserve it. But if you’re willing to stretch things a little, to step outside that comfort zone, you open a world of possibilities. If you can dream it, you can do it. The only limitation is within your own comfort zone. Take a look outside and see what’s there. It just may be worth a try.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Practice, Practice, Practice

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

I read an article a few days ago that suggested if you want to make positive changes in your life, you should strive to be at the top one percent in something. In fact, the writer went on to say that it doesn’t even matter what you decide to be good at – just be in the top one percent of anything. Okay, I found that to be just a little intriguing.

Let’s set aside the familiar discussions of top one percent, which normally relate to income and wealth. In the US last year, the top one percent earned a total of 13.4 percent of the nation’s total wages, about $718,000. I guess I could live on that. But this isn’t about income. It’s about finding something you want to be good at and being your absolute best.

We’ve all heard the story of a tourist who asked a New York taxi driver how to get to Carnegie Square, and the driver responded, “Practice, practice, practice.” Or the football fan who showed up at the Cleveland Browns stadium and the ticket agent asked, “Are you here to watch or play?” Sorry, I had to throw that in. Being from southern Ohio, there’s a bit of a rivalry.

But the point is pretty much the same. If you want to get out of the spectator seats and onto the main stage, there are two ways to do it. Dedicate yourself to becoming the very best at whatever it is you want to do or look for something where everyone else is performing like a rank amateur. Both will get you closer to the big game. But only one will carry you through life to bigger and better things.

We’ve all worked with people who try to get ahead by making others around them look incompetent. They take on all the “important” work and leave everyone else to do the menial tasks, beating their chest in front of the boss the whole time. But what does it say about you if you’re the best of the inept? Wouldn’t it mean more to shine brightly among a sea of stars?

Practice, practice, practice. Very few things in life come naturally, with no practice involved. If you don’t believe me, watch a baby try to master the most basic human skill of walking. It takes skill, determination, and practice. Sure, it becomes second-nature after a while. And most of us are pretty good at it.

But is it more impressive to run a relay race with hurdles, or walk in circles around a baby who’s just learning to crawl? Being a good walker doesn’t put you in the top one percent. It puts you in the top ninety-nine percent. And if you strut around in front of a room full of people in wheelchairs, it just makes you a jerk.

If you want to really stand out, be good at something where others have an equal chance. And if you find yourself surrounded by people who aren’t quite as good as you are, help them become better. Hang around a group of comedians after a show, and you won’t hear much in the way of gossip. They’re too busy congratulating one another on a solid performance and offering suggestions.

When I had the opportunity to headline a show and bring my own opening acts, I always looked for people who were as strong as I was, or even stronger. Nobody wants to hear someone after the show say, “You were pretty good, but those other guys sucked.” Putting the strongest acts in front of me made me work that much harder to deliver my very best. And everybody benefitted as a result.

And how do you get good? Practice, practice, practice. You don’t get to Carnegie Hall by practicing once or twice a year. You don’t get there by practicing once or twice a month, or even a couple of times every week. You get there by practicing every single day, without fail. No breaks, no excuses. You make the commitment and stick to it.

Do you want to be a better leader? Maybe a stronger employee, a better parent, a more loving spouse, a better woodworker, or more successful in business? Then practice. Do it every day until it becomes part of who you are. Build on your strengths, and work on your weaknesses. And surround yourself with people who are better at it than you are today. Watch them. Learn from them.

It’s easy to rise above a room full of people who are sitting down. Instead, find a room full of people who are where you want to be, and make a commitment to be among the best of them. No matter what it is, you can do it. None of them got where they are by natural talent alone. It’s only when their talent becomes their passion that they rise to the top. And you can, too. All you have to do is practice.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Make Success the More Attractive Option

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

In Sunday’s sermon, our pastor pointed out the fact that it, according to studies performed by somebody who at least claims to know, January 12 is the date by which most New Year’s resolutions go by the wayside. That means if you got through the day yesterday with your resolutions still intact, you’re above average. Kinda sobering, isn’t it?

This doesn’t mean that most people fell off the wagon and had a bad day in the first twelve days of the year. It means they simply quit trying. Out with the new, in with the old. It wasn’t that important anyway. Besides, there’s always next year. And the year after, and the year after that. Yet, according to a Quinnipiac poll, about 75% of Americans are optimistic about a brighter future.

Well, not to be the bearer of bad news, but the words “brighter future” imply change. That means we can’t keep doing the same things we’ve been doing and expect better results simply because we’re good and we deserve it. If we want our future to change, we have to change our present. That could be simple or extreme, but the longer things stay the same, the longer they’ll keep staying the same.

I guess what troubles me the most isn’t that people slip up and fall off the wagon on their resolutions so early in the year. Falling down is a part of moving forward. We all do it. But, if the people who conduct these studies are correct, it means that the majority of people stopped even trying to get back up. They fell down, possibly into a comfortable position, and just decided to stay there.

When we decide to make a change, we often give ourselves an out … a place of refuge in case things don’t go according to plan. My wife wanted to sell our house, buy a motorhome, and hit the road. I want to buy a less expensive motorhome and keep the house. You know, just in case. Now, you can decide for yourself which of us has the better plan. But it does illustrate my point.

One school of thought says before you make a drastic change, have a fallback plan. Give yourself an out in case you need it. Of course, that gives you the option to chicken out when things get a little rough. On the other hand, nothing says commitment like jumping off a cliff in a glider you designed and built yourself. It’s called sink or swim. Success is the only option. Other than … you know.

But most of the changes we decide to make aren’t that clear-cut. If your goal is to go on a diet and lose weight, what happens if you fail? Well, you go back to eating the foods you’ve always loved and never have to exercise. If your goal was to quit smoking, failure means you get to avoid nicotine withdrawal and foul mood that goes along with it. You simply go back to what you were doing.

Unless we find a way to make failure more unpleasant than success, we’ll never change anything. “I’ll donate five dollars to a rival political party every time I use the F-word.” That’ll get your attention! Especially if you commit and don’t give yourself a free pass just because you slammed your finger in the car door. Or you accidentally broke the yolk on your egg. You know, whatever.

The best way to make failure more unpleasant than success is to focus on why you want to make a change. See yourself in a smaller bathing suit by summer. Better still, go online and order one. Commit. Get rid of all the ash trays. Commit. Write a check to you least favorite politician. Then deposit that money in your vacation account. Every day, you get to decide which is more important.

If you’ve made it to this point in the year without completely giving up on your goals, you’re ahead of the game. The odds of success are already in your favor. That doesn’t mean you haven’t slipped up once or twice. It means the dream is still stronger than the urge to give up. And as long as you keep your priorities lined up that way, there’s nothing that can stop you from achieving your goal.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don't Wait For Luck – Make Your Own

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

A few days ago, I stumbled across a video montage of people who were involved in close calls that almost resulted in disaster. There was the guy walking down the street and a speeding car slid into a light pole inches away. Another person stumbled off a train platform and was pulled to safety with less than a second to spare. You know, the kind of videos that make you go, “WOW!”

Thankfully, luck was on the side of each of these people and they lived to tell the story of what could have been their final moment. Some would say they were the beneficiary of divine intervention, that it just wasn’t their time. I won’t argue either way, except to say something or someone was there to save them from certain death. And that, my friends, is the textbook definition of luck.

We tend to attribute lots of things to luck. One person just seems to catch all the lucky breaks, and another attracts nothing but bad luck. Casinos invite you to try your hand with Lady Luck. Game operators at the carnival call out, “Do you feel lucky today?” And what about the lottery, the ultimate test of luck? You put down a few dollars and wait for random numbers to pop up.

And then there’s the person who started out working alongside you in an entry-level position, but through several promotions and pay raises, now enjoys an office instead of a cubicle, tropical vacations instead of tent camping, and a home on “that” side of town. Meanwhile, you’re still struggling to pay the bills. Yes, some people seem to get all the luck.

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but luck has nothing to do with it. Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparedness. It’s the result of recognizing an opportunity and being in a position to capitalize on it. That may mean learning new skills, taking a few classes, or simply going out of your way to meet the right people. But without that preparation, luck will simply pass you by.

Sure, we’ve all seen cases where somebody got a promotion simply because of their last name. The boss’ kids will always have some level of preference when it comes to promotions. But, in most cases, they have to be up to the task, or they’ll get passed by. Business owners don’t achieve success by putting imbeciles in positions of leadership. If they do, they won’t be successful for long.

More often than not, if we’re really honest, we can look beneath the surface and see a pattern of preparation that puts one person in a position to succeed while others around them feel left out. Sure, we have names for the people who come in early, stay late, and always have the report on the boss’ desk early. But when opportunity comes along, who do you think will get the first shot?

Success isn’t a matter of luck. It comes to the person who can spot an opportunity and is prepared to capitalize on it. Winning the lottery is luck. It takes no skill, and no preparation other than buying a ticket. Ever wonder why nearly 70 percent of lottery winners are bankrupt in less than five years? There’s your answer. Success takes a little more effort.

I talk a lot about dreams and goals, and hopefully you think about those things just as much. And make no mistake, the opportunities are there. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow. But unless you’re prepared to capitalize on those opportunities, they’ll move on to somebody who is. And preparation begins with an open mind.

How many times have you seen somebody achieve incredible success in the most unlikely venture? Odds are, they weren’t the first to be exposed to the idea or opportunity. But they approached it with an open mind and put in the effort while others scoffed at their ambitions or simply looked away without a second thought. Was it luck? Or was there a little more to it?

For any goal you may have, or any level of success you wish to achieve, the opportunity is there. Find that opportunity and you’re halfway there. Maybe you’re ready today, maybe not. But once you know how to succeed, it’s easy to put the remaining pieces in place. Don’t rely on luck. Success comes to those who make their own luck. It’s there waiting for you. What happens next is up to you.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Resolution or Resignation? It's All About Commitment

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

Did you make any resolutions for the New Year? How are you doing so far? I normally don’t make resolutions, because I don’t like being reminded halfway through January that I already failed. But this year I did. They’re personal, and mostly related to my mindset and outlook. And, I’ve decided that 32 years after leaving the Navy, it’s time to stop talking like a sailor. Okay, I had good intentions.

Resolutions are simply a new start. Doing something we want to start doing or dropping habits that no longer fit who we want to be. It’s about change and moving forward. Out with the old, in with the new. It’s the start of a journey toward a better version of ourselves, something we aspire to be. It’s a dream. But the moment we resolve to make it happen, we commit ourselves to that dream.

According to some sources, as many as 80% of us will fail to achieve our New Year’s resolutions. Why? I guess there are a lot of reasons, and I won’t go into them here. But the main underlying cause is that we just lack the commitment. We want to make a change. We know we should make that change. But at the end of the day, it’s just a little more trouble than it’s worth. Old habits die hard.

And nobody wants to admit they lack commitment, especially when we make that commitment to ourselves. We know deep down that we can accomplish anything if we just set our mind to it, but it’s hard to fully commit to something when deep down we’re not sure we want to do it. We want the result – just not the work that goes into it.

So, we make a half-hearted resolution that sounds something like this … “I need to lose some weight this year. I probably won’t be as skinny as I’d like, and I’m not giving up any of my favorite foods, but I’ll see if I can eat a little less and maybe exercise once or twice a week.” Sound familiar?

If you read that “resolution” again closely, you’ll see it’s full of everything except commitment. “I need to” … “I’ll probably come up short” … “I’m not giving up any of this” … “I’ll see if I can” … and “maybe”.  It’s just a lot of words, mixed in with a few excuses and an overall prediction of failure. If somebody said that to you, would you put any money on their chances of success?

Another reason we fail at resolutions is because we lack belief. Oh, we know it’s possible. Just not probable.  Before we even start, we put our success in the hands of fate. “If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.” That’s a nice sentiment if you don’t have any desire to influence the outcome of your own life. Instead of hoping for a miracle, how about creating one of your own?

It takes 21 days to change a habit. That doesn’t mean you can completely drop a habit in three weeks or form a new one. It means that if you keep repeating the same behavior for three weeks, it begins to fit into your comfort zone. It still takes a little willpower to stay on track, but in that short period of time, it starts to feel more natural. It’s becoming more a part of who you are.

And the easiest way to get through 21 days is one day at a time. When I quit smoking, I never once said “I’ll never smoke again.” I simply said, “I won’t smoke today.” That simple substitution of words made all the difference in the world. You can do anything for a day. And if you did it yesterday, you can do it again today. And tomorrow and the next day. One day at a time.

And if you happen to fall down, it’s only one day. You don’t have to start all over. Just pick up where you left off and get back on track. Strengthen your commitment. Write a short list of the reasons you made this decision in the first place and read it every morning until the urge to fall off the wagon starts to fade. If you can do it for a day, you can do it for life.

Change is hard, but it’s a necessary part of growth. As you envision the changes you’d like to make, don’t focus on the change itself but the end result. See yourself as the person you want to be. Reaffirm your ability to attain that goal every day. Believe in yourself, and anything is possible. Combine that belief with commitment and it becomes inevitable.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You're Going to Think Anyway, Think Big!

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

Yes, I’ve been away again. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve undoubtedly seen the dozens of pictures my daughter posted from her trip to Orlando for my granddaughter’s birthday. Well, as you may have guessed, we went with them. For personal reasons, I don’t talk about these trips in advance, but we sure did have a good time. Got to visit my dad as well, so that was a pleasant bonus.

Okay, so eight days into 2020, what are your plans? The first thing on my list is to not repeat the stunt I pulled this morning. There’s nothing like a cup of hot coffee on a cold morning. And nothing quite like dumping the entire cup all over the dining room table, my computer, three light blue placemats, a stack of mail, and the motivational book I’m reading that’s teaching me not to cry over spilled coffee.

Hopefully I’ll be able to read the second half of the book, now that the pages are coffee stained. Oh well, some people pay extra to “age” photographs with a similar effect. Maybe my book just increased in value. Either way, I’ll finish reading it. Here’s a tip – any time travel includes flying, along with all the associated airport waiting time, take along a good book. It sure beats staring at the clock.

As a kid, I used to read everything I could get my hands on. Sometime in my twenties, I stepped back from that a bit. And once I started writing professionally, I stopped reading altogether. When you stare at words on a page (screen) all day, it’s nice to take a break from it in the evening. It’s kind of like cleaning toilets all day and then coming home to a mess in your own house.

But over the past few years, I’ve developed an affinity for motivational books. The one I’m reading now is one of the all-time greats – The Magic of Thinking Big. I know, thinking big is just dreaming big, right? Well, yeah. And a lot more. It’s about finding the value in yourself that allows you to succeed at anything you desire. Every one of us was born to achieve. But first, we have to dream. That’s how it works.

Since the beginning of time, people have watched birds soar through the air and dreamed of being able to do the same. The freedom of being able to go anyplace you want, over any obstacle, and with a view of the world unlike any other. And they tried. I imagine a lot of people met their demise at the bottom of a cliff, for one shot at accomplishing the impossible. Still, they tried. And tried and tried.

We all know how that story ends. As I boarded a plane in Jacksonville yesterday morning, our pilot announced that we would have a one-hour, eighteen-minute flight to Washington DC. He then told us that trip would be over ten hours by car. That’s the result of thinking big. It wasn’t enough to soar over a hundred feet of sand dunes in North Carolina. Our dreams took us higher, faster, and farther.

That’s the way dreams work. Anything the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. If you can imagine something better and truly believe not only that it’s possible, but that you can do it, your mind will fill in the blanks and show you how to make it happen. Every modern convenience we enjoy today began as a dream. And we’ve only scratched the surface.

As we basked in the warmth of a water park on January 2, I began to dream. That dream quickly turned to a burning desire, and then a commitment. I want this. I want the ability to do this any time I want. And why stop in Orlando? There are lots of warm places in January. The Caribbean, Hawaii, Tahiti, Australia … the list goes on. And the only thing standing in the way is me.

If you’re going to think anyway, why not think big? Forget all the negativity that holds you back and focus on the reality that you can accomplish anything. And, that being the case, why dream of small achievements when you can just as easily have so much more? This isn’t about material gain. It’s about maximizing your own potential. It’s about enjoying life on your own terms. It’s about success.

So, as you begin the new year, take a little time to dream. Then take those dreams a step further. Think big! The world is more than happy to let you know if your dreams are too grand. But remember, Wilbur and Orville Wright were told it was impossible to fly. Anything that can be built can be built for you. And if it hasn’t been built yet, then get busy and show the world how to make it happen!

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Forget the Resolutions – It's Time to Dream!

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

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve. Not only the last day of the year, but the last day of the decade. Twenty years ago we were all freaking out about global devastation as our computers mysteriously lost their ability to know what day it was. I wondered about all those poor souls whose lives depended on a computer-driven cardiac pacemaker. That had the potential to be a midnight we’d never forget.

By some estimates, companies spent today’s equivalent of more than $400 billion to combat the perceived threat of what was commonly known as the “Y2K bug.” For those of you too young to remember, it was pretty simple. Computers used to use a two-digit date format (e.g., “99” instead of “1999”), because nobody really expected them to last long enough to see a new century. They did.

So, all of a sudden, we were faced with the prospect of a device that was supposed to be smarter than a three-year-old suddenly thinking it was operating in the year 1900. It was kinda like that NASA probe that crash-landed on Mars because a bona fide rocket scientist calculated the descent speed in feet per second rather than meters. Oops!

Well, we rang in the year 2000 without any of the disasters that could have been caused by computers run amok. And a lot of the people working in the IT industry on programs to prevent those disasters were suddenly out of work. So, they went home and invented social media. And here we are.

As we ring in the New Year, our minds often turn to our hopes and dreams. It’s not like we can’t dream any other time of year, but this is when we really stick our neck out and go for the gold. “I’m gonna quit smoking, lay off the booze, stop chasing wild women, lose 200 pounds, and become a millionaire!” Okay, alcohol is usually at the root of those aspirations, but you get the idea.

This is a time when we dare to dream just a little more. Because we’re not talking about what we plan to do tomorrow, or even next week. Besides, for a lot of people, tomorrow will involve an ice bag and a lot of aspirin. But it’s easy to make plans when you’ve got a whole year to get started. And therein lies the problem. The end of January comes, and you say, “But I still have eleven months!”

Then comes February, and March, and April.  By June you’re saying, “As soon as summer break is over, I’ll get started.” Then comes September and the kids are back in school. And guess what? You still haven’t made a step in the right direction. Oh well, there’s always next year.

Well, this time we get not only the start of a new year, but a new decade. Now, if you took that to mean you’ve got ten more years to get started on your goals, we need to talk. The idea is to get everything done long before then so you can start on something else. Because, trust me, nothing you can dream of today can hold a candle to what you could potentially do ten years from now.

What stops us from dreaming, or at least halts those dreams before they ever take flight, is one simple question … how on earth can I ever do that? It’s been said that when there’s a will there’s a way. Sometimes we don’t have to know how we’ll do something. We just need a goal. In a little over three hours, my job will come to an end. I don’t know how I’ll find another one. I just know that I will.

So, instead of worrying about the details of how you’ll accomplish your goals, take a day or two to just focus on the dream. Put it in writing. Get pictures. Fill in all the details. Make that dream so crystal-clear in your mind that you can see and feel it wrapping closer around you with each passing day. It doesn’t matter how you’ll do it. What matters is knowing the end result.

I’ve asked this question several times in the past – what would your goals be if you knew you couldn’t fail? For the next two days, approach your dreams from that perspective. Put failure out of your mind and just focus on the goal. Then see what kind of ideas pop up over the coming days. You already know what to do. All you need is a reason to do it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day, and a safe and happy New Year!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved