Focus on the Effort – The Results Will Come

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

It’s Monday again, and you know what that means. Play time is over and it’s time to get back to the old grind. I say that as if we spend a lot of our weekend playing, and as if going to work on Monday means we’ll work that much more than we did during our “rest” time. But we all know better. The work continues, no matter what day it is. All that changes is the location.

I guess for some folks, things like shopping and cooking burgers on the grill are relaxing. I’d like to meet those people and learn a little about their secret. Because for me, anything that doesn’t involve a sunny beach is work. Any more, even sleeping feels like work. All night long, I’m waking up to adjust my CPAP mask to get it to stop hissing. I think my face changes shape as I sleep.

And I’m pretty sure if I could spend my days on a sunny beach, that’s exactly what I’d do for the first week or two. If I felt really industrious, maybe I could do it for a month. But after a while, I’d find myself looking for other things to occupy my time. Because there’s always that part of us that needs to feel productive. I guess that’s what happens when you work for 45 years.

But more and more, I’m seeing younger people who have decided that working for 45 years isn’t all that glamorous. At least, in the traditional sense. A lot of these folks have a college degree, so it’s not like they can’t find a job. But they’ve decided that life is short (it is) and that waiting until your body is old and frail to get out and enjoy life just doesn’t make sense (it doesn’t).

Some of them work a fulltime job from home, and home is wherever they want it to be. Some travel around and find a different job wherever they happen to be. They may be freelance writers, web designers, software developers, or anything in between. The ways in which they earn an income are as varied as the people doing it. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

The one thing all these people share in common is a burning desire to live life on their own terms, to the extent possible, and a commitment to making that happen. Employers are learning that, when people work from home, they tend to be more productive and take less time off. And the reason is simple. They don’t want anything to jeopardize that working arrangement.

And the truth is, it can be a lot harder to find a job like that than it is to actually do the work. I’ve done a lot of freelance writing over the years, and it’s not for the faint of heart. For every hour I spent working on an assignment, I spent several hours looking for work and dealing with the inevitable rejections and shady employers looking to get something for nothing. It’s a lot of work.

But we tend to be short-sighted when it comes to these things. It’s easy to focus on the short term, with immediate results. You get a job or an assignment, and then get paid. Mission accomplished. But keeping that job requires a little more forward thinking. You have to look at the big picture and put in some extra effort now and then to build a reputation and keep what you’ve worked so hard to find.

But we’re not always so energetic when it comes to things where the payoff isn’t so immediate. We get an idea, visualize the potential rewards, figure out a plan, and take the plunge. Then reality hits. All that work you did last month, and you didn’t make a dime. If you’re lucky, you at least broke even. But how long would you work like that without some kind of tangible reward?

In most cases, the answer is not long. But sometimes, that’s exactly the kind of commitment it takes. It’s called paying dues. And the greater the potential reward, the more dues you’ll have to pay to get there. And that’s not easy to do when the results just aren’t there, or worse yet, when you seem to be sliding backward. It happens. And that’s when it’s time to dig in and work even harder.

The path to success doesn’t change based on results. All we have to do is follow it. There may be speed bumps and detours along the way, but if we stay focused on the effort, the results will come. And at some point, it won’t take as much work to achieve the same or even greater results. All you need is a goal and the determination to make it happen. The rest is simply a matter of time.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Give It All You’ve Got – Even if You Come Up Short, You Still Win

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

I was watching my youngest grandkids the other day, simply amazed at how much they’ve learned. To hear them talk, to watch them play, to hear them sing complete songs and spell out words – it’s incredible what they’ve been able to master in such a short time.

I thought about those first days in school, when the teacher taught us the letters of the alphabet, to sound out simple words, and to add with our fingers. It was the basics of what we’d need to know to complete complex mathematical equations and read anything that’s put in front of us. Or even to sit at a computer at 6:00 in the morning and hammer out a mildly coherent motivational message.

We were proud of those accomplishments. I remember feeling pretty grown up at the ripe old age of 6. Because with every success, every little thing we learned, every little mistake we had to overcome, we learned a much more valuable lesson – there was absolutely nothing we couldn’t learn. It gave us the motivation to take on even bigger challenges. And look at us now.

In his book, The Miracle Equation, Hal Elrod makes a point our teachers knew way back in kindergarten … the purpose of a goal isn’t to accomplish that particular goal, but to become the kind of person who can accomplish any goal. Once you know how to add small numbers, you can add any set of numbers. Once you can sound out a few small words, there’s nothing you can’t read.

I’m sure the teacher’s goal wasn’t to make us memorize the multiplication tables as much as learning the mechanics of multiplication. They wanted us to know enough about how the process works that we could tackle any problem, and how to work any problem to the end. It formed the basis for areas of math I never really learned, but long after a building crumbles, the foundation is still there.

My first week in the Navy, we were taken to the gymnasium for a run. The goal was simple – we had to run for ten minutes. It didn’t matter how fast we ran. It didn’t matter how far. All they cared about was that our feet were moving in some kind of generally recognized running pattern for ten minutes.

Later in my training, distances and times became more important. But the whole purpose of that first exercise was to teach us how to run – to begin building the foundation of a person who could run any distance. And make no mistake, several of us couldn’t run the entire ten minutes. But along the way, we learned how to pace ourselves and work through those moments of sheer exhaustion.

Have you ever been given an impossible assignment – something you know you won’t be able to accomplish, but you still have to work like crazy anyway? Maybe you surprise yourself and beat the odds. Maybe you pull it off and accomplish the impossible. And maybe you don’t. But, along the way, you tapped into a couple of important characteristics – focus and determination.

It’s the same focus and determination that taught us the alphabet and how to perform simple addition. It’s the same focus and determination that taught us how to sing a song or play an instrument. Believe me, there is nothing “successful” about a person’s first attempts at playing a violin. It can literally wake the dead. But all that screeching helps them become the kind of person who can master one of the world’s most beautiful instruments.

When you tackle a goal, you flex those invisible muscles that allow you to accomplish any goal. You may not achieve your desired objective every time. But let’s say your goal was to build a house by a certain date, and when that date arrived, you’d completed everything but the roof. Would you stop? Or would you work even harder to finish what you’d started?

Every marathon runner knows the fastest two parts of the race are at the very beginning and the very end. You burst out of the gate, full of energy and conviction. As the race wears on, you’re not thinking about the end – you’re only focused on that next mile. But once the finish line is in sight, you get a burst of energy that pushes you to run a little faster toward that once elusive goal. You’ve made it!

Set goals for yourself – challenging goals. Work toward them as if failure isn’t an option. Give it everything you’ve got. You may come up a little short, and that’s okay. The work you’ve done still stands. And along the way, you’ve become the kind of person who can accomplish any goal. Success at anything you choose to do is no longer just possible – it’s inevitable.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Stay Ahead – It’s the Best Way to Keep From Falling Behind

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off just right.

Yesterday was a productive day. I picked off some routine assignments, the kind of thing I do every day. And then, I tackled something a little more intense – one of those jobs that really needs to be done, but you don’t want to start unless you’re certain you can finish because, by the time you get back to it later, things will have changed. Know the feeling?

Now, that doesn’t mean it’ll still be in the same shape when I get to work this morning. But at least we’re at a solid ground-zero. It’s like cleaning my garage. Last time my daughter did it for me, and it looked awesome. For a week or two. But once you start actually working in there again, things get moved around and before long, it’s just one big mess again.

I guess if I were the kind of person who always puts everything in its place and cleans up every time I do anything, that wouldn’t happen. I’ve got two neighbors who are never embarrassed about leaving their garage door open. They even invite people inside. If I let anybody in my garage, they may never be seen again.

But that’s a story for another day. The point is, you can give something your very best effort and make it really shine, but without regular attention, it’ll soon look like my garage. I mow the lawn, and it looks beautiful. A week later, it needs it again. If I wait another week, it’ll look pretty bad. One more week and the city will be mowing it for me. And I hear they put a pretty high value on their work.

I guess it’s a good thing work doesn’t get done once and never have to be done again, because if it did, we’d all be unemployed. Sure, it’s frustrating to find a mess after all that hard work, but that’s why they pay us to come back. And, thankfully, you’re usually not doing the same work again. It just feels that way.

Try doing something positive for yourself, and you’ll see this in full swing. You save a little money, and an unexpected bill comes in. You save a little more, and the refrigerator breaks. You save again, and the car starts sputtering. No matter what you’re trying to do, life goes on in the background. And sometimes, it seems you’ll never get caught up.

But here’s the question – do you quit your job because the bills keep coming in? Sometimes it’s tempting, but it’s also a quick way to find out what happens when you stop treading water and let gravity take the wheel. Or do you dig down a little deeper and find a way to solve the problem?

Two steps forward, one step back – seems I’ve heard that somewhere before. But even at that pace, you’ll eventually get where you want to go. Getting ahead takes more than just doing what’s necessary to keep up. It means doing a little extra. If you stop every time you make a little progress, you’ll soon find yourself right back where you started. Because life moves whether we do or not.

Staying ahead of the game means getting up a little earlier, going to bed a little later, or putting in a little more effort when you’ve earned a break. And sometimes it means realizing that the progress you just made will soon be erased, so instead of waiting for the inevitable, you get ahead of the game. If I’d done that with my garage, I’d be able to walk through it without tripping.

On the job, we know this. We put in that extra effort because that’s what we’re paid to do. But when it comes to our own personal goals – you know, the ones where nobody is paying us – it’s a little easier to take a breather, especially if you just accomplished something worthwhile. “Wow, I had to work hard for that one! And as soon as I catch my breath, I’ll move on to the next one.”

The problem is, we never seem to fully catch our breath unless something is driving us to keep moving. It takes a lot more energy to stop and start than it does to just keep things moving. That’s momentum. And every time we stop, not only do we have to find the energy to get moving again, the rest of the world keeps moving. Forward, backward, it doesn’t matter. Life never stands still.

Build on your successes. Find a strategy that works and just keep repeating it. If what you’re doing isn’t enough, then do a little more. There will always be setbacks. Things will break, deals will fall through, and some of what you’ve done will need to be done over. Keep moving, and those setbacks become speed bumps – they may slow you down, but then can never really stop you.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Can Make it to the Finish Line, You Win

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

Not long ago, a friend at work was training for a marathon. I remember thinking I’d like to be able to do that someday. Not because I love running – I’d rather get another vasectomy. And I couldn’t win if everybody else made ten wrong turns and took a nap in the middle. I’d like to be able to do it just to prove to myself that I can.

Now, let’s set some expectations. In my case, “running” a marathon would include 100 yards of light jogging at the start, followed by several miles of walking at various levels of slowness, with a halfhearted jog in the final 50 yards. And maybe a few jogs in the middle if there’s a particularly attractive woman looking my way. You know, like Sandra Bullock. In a bikini.

I don’t know that I’ll ever run a marathon, or even a half-marathon. But I would like to get out and do a 5k walk. My doctor says walking is healthy. He says it’ll make me lose weight. Well, the jury is still out on that, because either the doctor or my bathroom scale has been lying. But I do find that I’m able to get through cold and flu season mostly unscathed. That’s worth a few blocks after lunch.

I also take vitamins – really good vitamins that have proven their value over and over. I knew I was onto something when the doctor looked at my blood test results and smiled. He never smiles. My numbers aren’t perfect, but they’re a lot better than they were before. And at this age, better is good enough. Better can add a few years to your life and ward off infirmity a few years longer as well.

Sometimes, it’s not about the win, but simply staying in the game. I used to watch NASCAR races every week. Invariably, people would spin out and crash into the wall, and cars would be completely demolished. The team would work feverishly to get their car back on the track, no matter how long it took. Meanwhile, the rest of the field kept racking up the laps.

Finally, you’d see the car come back out, looking like a bulldozer held together with duct tape. The front bumper was hanging off, the hood was crumpled, the back end looked like it had been smacked by a freight train, and every side panel was rippled like a crinkle-cut French fry. The engine was smoking, and the car could barely run the speed limit. You know, in a residential area.

And you’d have to wonder why they even bothered. There’s no way they could win the race. Sometimes, they were so far behind they couldn’t even add a single point to their total for a possible run at the season championship. They were on the track for one reason and one reason only – they came there to race. And as long as the car was able to complete a single lap, they were going for it.

We face similar decisions all through life. We start something we know we can’t finish, but we try anyway. The boss gives us a job we’ve never done before with an impossibly short deadline. We know we’ll never get it all done in time, but we give it our best. And somehow, in the 11th hour, things start going our way and we get a lot more done than we’d ever imagined. Maybe not all, but enough.

If you think about it, I’m sure you can come up with several examples of that in your own life. So, let me ask you a question. What personal goals have you set aside year after year, simply because you can’t see yourself ever crossing the finish line? Or maybe you just realized it would take several years to get it done and you’re waiting to find a shortcut that’ll get you there faster. Meanwhile, nothing gets accomplished.

I’ve been trying for several years to lose weight. By that I mean I’ve been thinking and talking about it for several years. And along comes the doctor, telling me that I should set a goal of losing 1-2 pounds per month. “But it’ll take TWO YEARS to do that! I can’t wait that long!” Well, you know what? If I’d started two years ago, I’d be a lot closer to my goal today. Maybe not all, but enough.

Sometimes it’s not about coming in first, but simply making it to the finish line. It’s about setting a goal, and not letting anything keep you from trying. You may fall down. You may spin out. And you may even hit a concrete wall. But as long as you’re willing to get back in there and give it your best, you win. Put together enough of those little wins and nothing can stand in your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Just Stay in the Game!

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

I have two different routes I take on the way home from work each day, depending on what time I leave. Okay, I haven’t even left for work yet and I’m already thinking about how I get home. My manager probably won’t be too impressed by that but bear with me. There’s a point and it’s not how quickly I can end my day and get out of there.

As I said, I have two routes. There’s the express route, a six-lane highway that everybody else seems to find convenient as well. If I get out early enough and beat the traffic, that’s the easiest way to go. But lately, “early enough” doesn’t seem to be quite … well, early enough. I guess a few other people have caught onto that trick.

My other route takes me through residential areas and small country roads which, by coincidence, are right along the path of a huge tornado just a few weeks ago. There’s a lot of devastation along that route, and the last thing I want to do is get in the way of the cleanup. They’ll be at it for months.

But even in the few short weeks since the storm rolled through, a lot of the damage has been removed and reconstruction is well underway. Power lines are back up, stores are open again (for the most part), and people are back in what’s left of their homes. Blue tarps cover a lot of the buildings, and downed trees still dominate the landscape. But slowly, life is getting back to normal.

There’s a professional restoration service specializing in disaster cleanup whose slogan is, “Like it never even happened.” That’s a comforting thought, and I’m sure there comes a point where the visual reminders are largely gone. But there’s more to rebuilding than putting things back the way they were. The emotional restoration can take a lot more time and effort.

I’m sure nobody went to bed that night thinking they’d be awakened to the sound of tornado sirens, or that, before midnight, they would be standing outside what’s left of their home checking one another for injuries. Life has a way of throwing us a knuckleball now and then, and they tend to come without warning. One minute we’re on top of the world, and the next we’re fighting to survive.

Thankfully, most of life’s ups and downs aren’t quite that severe. You have a bad day at work, or the kids are being especially disobedient. The car has a flat tire, the power goes out, or the weed-eater won’t start. That last one happens a lot. Any one of these things can stress you out and take the smile off your face. But in the overall scheme of things, they’re pretty minor.

And all it takes is a small change, and the problem is gone, like it never even happened. Your day at work ends and traffic is light for a change. The kids give you a hug and tell you they love you. The spare tire is on, the power comes back up, and the weed-eater starts. All the frustration is behind you and you get back to whatever it was you were doing, without giving it another thought.

It’s too bad we can’t dust ourselves off so easily when it comes to other things … things that are probably just as important, if not more, but that we tend to take much more personally. Relationships would be at the top of that list. “I can forgive, but I can’t forget.” Okay, but if what you’ve “forgiven” keeps coming to the surface, odds are you’re still not quite there.

And we do the same thing with ourselves. We try something new, only to fall flat on our face. Whether it’s a new skill, a new business, a new job, or simply a new way home from work, we don’t go into anything expecting to fail. If we did, we’d never even try. That makes it all the harder when we do fail. Instead of learning from the experience, we beat ourselves up for even trying.

Success isn’t about avoiding failure. It’s about looking failure in the eye and saying, “I’m not afraid of you.” It’s about picking up the pieces when things go wrong and coming back even stronger. It’s about taking a look at what went wrong, and then turning your attention back to the goal. It’s about refusing to be beaten by something you didn’t even want in the first place.

Life isn’t always kind, and anything worth having will undoubtedly present some challenges along the way. But success isn’t about avoiding challenges – it’s about overcoming them. Keep your eye on the goal and never give up. You can do this!

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

Keep Swinging – You May Be Closer Than You Think

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

Well, the weekend is over and it’s Monday again. For most of us, that means a new week at work and a morning of facing all the things we didn’t get done last week. I guess there’s a reason so many of us aren’t overly fond of Mondays. But on the other hand, it’s a new week full of opportunities to do some of the things we’ve been putting off and start crossing them off the list.

I’m not talking so much about things you do at work. Trust me, somebody will be there to remind you about them, especially if you start falling too far behind. But what about those things you’ve been planning to do for yourself? You know, the ones that seem to slip from one week to the next, and by Friday, you’re just saying, “I’ll get started on this next week.” Well, it’s next week.

One of the problems with personal goals is that we go into them with the best of intentions, and we tend to aim high. Maybe a little too high. And when things don’t happen exactly the way we thought they would, we beat ourselves up and set the same goal again, only this time with a little more admonition than conviction. And trust me, friends, that admonition can wear you down fast.

It’s the same issue with New Year’s resolutions. We vow to make some huge change in life over the coming year. Part of our brain says we’ve got a whole year to get it done, so what’s the rush? But when February comes, and then March and April and May, and we’re still no closer to getting it done, it begins to wear on us. By June, we’ve pretty much given up. Besides, there’s always next year.

But what if we were to re-define success? What if, instead of actually attaining the final goal, “success” was simply movement in the right direction? Putting the goal firmly in front of you, establishing the mindset that you really can do this, planning a course of action, and then taking the necessary steps to make it happen – regardless of the actual results, isn’t that something worth celebrating?

It’s like chopping down a tree. You make the decision. You look at the tree and think, “I can do this.” You sharpen the axe, decide on a plan (like, which way you want it to fall), and take the first swing. A small chip hits the ground, but the tree is still standing. So, you swing again, and again, and again. Before long, the results of your effort begin to show. It gives you hope, and you continue.

Now, imagine that you’re swinging that axe blindfolded. You can feel the axe hitting the tree, but you can’t see the chips falling. Your arms are getting sore and blisters are forming on your hands. You begin to wonder if you’re even hitting the right tree. But, as any lumberjack will tell you, there’s no way of knowing which swing will finally bring the tree down. You just have to keep swinging.

We’ve all felt the same frustration with things we’re trying to accomplish. We put in the effort, but nothing seems to be happening. So, we re-assess our plan and move to another side of the tree. Maybe the wood is a little more “friendly” on that side. We swing several more times and the tree is still standing. Finally, in frustration, we move on to another tree or leave the axe to rust in the rain.

Progress isn’t always readily apparent, but any action you take toward your goal gets you closer. And, much like taking chips out of a standing tree, you never know when you’ll start to hear the welcome sound of wood fibers tearing away as the tree begins to fall on its own. From there, success is inevitable. The laws of gravity and physics take over, and all you have to do is get out of the way.

Meanwhile, you’ve been building up your arms for that next tree. You’ve learned a thing or two about how to swing an axe for maximum effect. Your experience tells you which side of the tree to hack away at first if you want it to fall in a certain direction. And, when you face that next tree, there’s little doubt in your mind it’ll eventually fall. Success isn’t just possible – it’s inevitable.

With each step you take toward a goal, you’re not only wearing away at the final objective, you’re building the person doing the work – you’re transforming from the kind of person who can imagine a goal into the kind who can accomplish that goal. More importantly, you’re becoming the kind of person who can accomplish ANY goal. And that, my friends, is the true definition of success.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved