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

Keep Going – You’re Moving Faster Than You Think

Good morning! It’s Monday, and that means the beginning of a brand-new week! I hope your day is starting off well.

For those of you who were with us Saturday, I slipped on in on you. I hope you’ve had time to read it, because it pretty much tied up all the loose ends from the topics we talked about last week. If you missed it, see if you can find time to go back.

Okay, so last week got a little intense. That was by design, even though, as I’ve said before, sometimes these posts are more stream-of-consciousness than something with a planned direction. Still, once I got started in that direction last week, I felt compelled to continue. Hopefully you were able to glean some useful thoughts from it.

As we begin this week, I’m ten days from a goal that looks increasingly large. Know the feeling? It’s like having a stack of bills on the table marked “Past Due” and the bank account is empty. I think most of us have been there. But we all have to ability to correct that situation and, as the saying goes, it’s not over until the fat lady sings. The story can change up until the very last moment.

We had a large initiative at work last year with an aggressive due date that was enough to make the most seasoned specialists cringe. “Are they kidding? There’s no way!” These are common thoughts at the outset of a goal, especially one that was imposed by somebody else. And, the entire time, with every little setback, those thoughts rise to the surface again. “We’ll never get this done!”

When you’re in the car driving to a particular destination, it’s easy to measure progress because it’s linear. Except for time spent in abnormally heavy traffic, your progress is pretty much the same the entire time you’re on the road. You set the cruise control and you can pretty much know where you’ll be in a few hours or by the end of the day.

But with most other things, progress isn’t so linear. All that work you do up-front doesn’t seem to yield any progress at all. In fact, sometimes all you do is uncover an even bigger mess and now you’ve got more work than you’d bargained for. Can I get an amen?

When you build a new home, the job starts with clearing trees and leveling the site. What started as a beautiful work of nature is now a big mud pit and the clock is ticking. Next you dig even deeper to make room for a foundation, and then load up the site with construction materials. All that work, and not the first piece of the house is built. Instead of a beautiful homesite, it’s an eyesore.

But the work continues and, slowly but surely, a structure begins to emerge. You’re looking at the calendar, wondering how on earth it’ll ever be done on time, but the builder assures you it’s time to start packing up your old house, because this one will be finished soon. Weather delays will occur, and the carpet may not arrive on time. But they’ve done this before. They know it’ll happen.

Now, let me ask you, if the builder were to look at the calendar early on and decide it’s a futile race against time and that the goal was unrealistic to begin with, how hard do you think they’d work to get it finished? The moment we agree to back off the original goal, our effort declines. And the more our effort declines, the more distant our revised goal appears. And around we go.

When we focus too heavily on visible or measurable results, it’s easy to lose sight of the original goal and the effort we’ve put in to that point. And, much like a new house, while all that effort may not be apparent in our progress to date, it creates the foundation on which success will ultimately be built.  

As I begin this week, the measurable results toward my goal are pretty dismal. But the work I’ve done to this point was important work, and a required part of achieving my goal. I could change that goal a little if I wanted, and I don’t think anybody would come down too hard on me if I came up a little short. But nobody imposed this goal on me – I came up with it by myself. I own it.

Take ownership of your own goals and don’t let anything stand in the way. Put in the effort, even when it feels like you’re just spinning your wheels. Because sooner or later, those wheels will heat up and gain traction. From there, you’re off to the finish line in a race you were destined to win from the start.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Focus on the Outcome – The Way Will Present Itself

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

I guess by now, you all think I wake up each morning with thoughts racing through my brain, just waiting to be spilled out onto the keyboard. I wish that were the case, but more often than not, I sit at the computer with no real thought as to what I plan to write that morning. It just happens. Some days it’s not all that great, and other days make up for it. That seems to be the way life goes.

In my younger years, if you wanted to take a trip from one city to another, you either looked at a map beforehand or relied on directions from others. GPS was something for ships and transcontinental airliners. And if the route you were on was closed for some reason, you’d simply get off that road, pull in someplace and ask directions (ladies?), and keep driving until you got there.

For the record, yes … I have actually gone into a gas station or convenience store and asked for directions. If that means I have to hand in my “man card” so be it. I’ve also opened a second screen on my computer in the morning to look up a statistic or find out who was the first to offer a specific quote. If you thought all those facts just rattled around in my brain all day, think again.

In the days of Christopher Columbus, navigation was done mostly by dead-reckoning and looking at the stars. You would take a known starting point, head in a specific direction, estimate your speed, and hope the wind and waves weren’t blowing you too far off course. At night you relied on the stars to get you back on track. Except on stormy nights. Then you just hung on for dear life.

Of course, that approach relied on one critical factor – knowing where you were headed. According to historical folklore, Christopher Columbus had set off to prove the world was round by sailing west to India, a country that everybody knew was to the east. What he didn’t know was that there was this huge continent in the middle that stretched from the top of the globe almost to the bottom.

A lot of mornings as I write my post, I find myself in a similar situation. I think I know where I want to go, but end up someplace completely different. And sometimes the goal is simply to get a positive message online, one that will hit home with at least one or two people, with no real sense of how I’ll get there. If you couldn’t already tell, today is one of those days.

Sometimes, too much planning can get in the way. You have a goal and an idea of how you’ll achieve it. You formulate a plan and start working through the details. You decide ahead of time exactly how you’ll get there and how long you think it’ll take. And then you hit the road with blinders on, focused only on that pre-defined route.

But you’re missing all the scenery along the way. You blow right past the on-ramp to a newer and faster route because you’re stuck on plans made from a ten-year-old map. You miss opportunities not only to expedite the completion of your trip, but to enjoy it more along the way. And then comes the dreaded “Road Closed” sign. Now what do you do?

If the destination is known, all you have to do is keep moving in the right direction. And when the GPS says, “Recalculating,” you make a turn and get back on track. Sooner or later you’ll get there. Destinations don’t move. What changes is the means by which we get there.

We talked yesterday about faith, the belief in something you can’t prove. In this case, it’s the certainty in a final outcome you’ve not yet achieved. But if you know where you’re going, and you believe in your ability to get there, how you do it isn’t quite as important. You don’t have to plan everything to the nth degree. Focus on the goal and the means will present itself.

The key here is that you have to begin with the courage to take that first step. You have to be open to options along the way. You have to be willing to try something new – maybe something so radically different that it almost doesn’t make sense. If you stick to the path everybody else is on, you’ll end up exactly where they’re headed, two steps behind.

You achieve new things by trying new things. Focus on the destination and believe in the outcome. Take off the blinders and be open to new opportunities. The path to success may not look like anything you’d imagined. But what’s more important? The destination, or the color of the car that gets you there?

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Greater the Challenge, the Sweeter the Success

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend.

Did you accept my fifteen-minute challenge from Friday? I did. Okay, I spent a lot more than fifteen minutes, but the house was empty and I didn’t have anything better to do with my time, so I set about a few different tasks and got a lot done. Granted, there’s a lot more still to do, but that’s another story.

We all tend to be a little optimistic when it comes to setting goals, but then as time goes by, we begin to wonder if we were a little too optimistic. Part of the problem is that we’re content to just let time go by instead of putting it to better use. And what ends up happening is we realize we may have overcommitted, so we begin to look for ways to trim the fat. Off our goal, that is.

We compromise and bargain like a used car salesman. Only they’re trying to get more out of us, but we’re trying to get a little less. “Well, I may not make it all the way to my goal, but if I can get a little closer, that’s better than nothing, right?” Okay, that would be a true statement. Anything is better than nothing. But that doesn’t mean it’s enough.

Because every time we come up short on a goal, no matter what kind, we have to admit a certain level of defeat. And defeat is just a more passive word for failure. We didn’t exactly fail – we were defeated. And hey, that happens to the best of us. So we pat ourselves on the back for whatever we did get done, and walk away wiser and maybe even a little smug. We did all we could do.

But did we? Could we have put in a little more effort? Could we have recommitted to our goal and faced the obstacles head-on instead of just waiting for them to move? Could we have put our creative energy to good use and figured out a different approach? Could we have called a friend and asked their advice? Could we have actually followed that advice?

The truth is, any one of these things would have put us closer to our goal and may have actually seen us through to success. But it’s easier to just accept fate and tell ourselves we tried. “It’s the thought that counts.” Sound familiar? Well, that may be true … when it comes to giving someone a gift. When it comes to your goals, it’s an easy way of admitting defeat. But at least you meant well.

Right now I’m facing two monumental goals. One is a little less time-sensitive and, because of that, I haven’t been overly concerned about how quickly it gets done. Cleaning my office yesterday was just the start of my household reorganizing and de-cluttering. But if I can take a little bit at a time, as I did yesterday, it’ll get there.

The other goal is very much time-driven, and I’m a little more than halfway to the end with little to show for my effort. I’ve done all the right things, but this is one of those cases where the “right things” don’t always turn into measurable results. It’s like swinging the bat against a really good pitcher. You miss more than you hit, and when you do connect it’s rarely a home run.

When we set a goal and then allow ourselves to fall short, we re-live that moment every time we try to do anything. We’ve allowed ourselves to accept something short of what we’d deemed acceptable, and it’s not quite as hard to do that the next time. And with each of those defeats, we develop an inner expectation that, no matter what we try, we’ll always come up a little short.

Part of the answer to that is making sure your goals are realistic. But they also need to be challenging. Tying your shoes is realistic, but is it really worth celebrating? Find something that will drive you to a certain level of excellence, something that’ll take a strong level of determination. Then do it. And if you find yourself coming up short, then turn up the heat.

We were born to do great things, and to succeed in whatever we desire. And there’s no greater success than taking on something you’ve never done before, something that’ll stretch your abilities to the limit, and then doing it. Go ahead. Stick your neck out. Swing for the fence. And don’t let anything get in the way. Then listen to the crowd cheer as that ball goes sailing out of the park.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Always Get More Than One Try

Good morning! I hope you all had an awesome weekend! Mine was everything I hoped it would be.

Last weekend I cut the grass and, wouldn’t you know it, I had to do it again yesterday. Seems it works that way this time of year. Mowing the lawn is one of those jobs you don’t get to do once and say “it’s done” because before you can even put the lawn mower away, it’s growing again already.

Of course, the nice part about that is if I miss a spot or gouge a certain area, the mistake will only be visible until next week. No matter what, you always get a chance to do it again. So, I guess mowing the lawn isn’t as much a job as a dress-rehearsal … one that repeats itself over and over and over, from spring until the onset of winter.

Now you know the one thing I look forward to each year when the weather turns cold. At least twice during September, I’ll mow the lawn and proudly proclaim, “That’s probably the last one until next year.” Then we get another week of unseasonably warm weather and I get to do it all over again. Like I’d complain about another week of sunshine. Not in this life.

Every time I get a haircut, as the stylist asks twenty questions to figure out exactly what I want done, I always tell them the same thing – “If you take off too much, it’ll grow back.” Now, for some men, that may not be the case. And I know others are a bit more particular about their hair. As long as mine looks reasonably presentable, I know the results are never permanent.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. No matter how badly you’ve messed things up, you can usually undo the damage and try again. Relationships are a bit trickier in that respect, and losing a job for insubordination can leave you in a bit of a bind. But beyond that, most things can be fixed. And for those that can’t, you’ll usually get another chance to start from scratch.

Monday mornings are a good time to remember that. Whatever mistakes you made last week, no matter how dire they seemed at the moment, have faded somewhat. This week will bring new challenges and, no matter how badly you messed up last week, you can rest assured somebody else will top that feat before Friday. It happens every time.

Meanwhile, you’ve got a little time and a fresh mind to go back and fix whatever you messed up. Or the whole cycle starts over and you get a chance to get it right this time. And when you do, nobody will even remember last week’s mistake. Never once has one of my neighbors stopped by after a weekly grass clipping and said, “Nice to see you didn’t blow it this time!”

Still, we put such pressure on ourselves to be perfect, that it often keeps us from taking chances that can lead us to better things. And the greater the potential reward for doing the job well, the more we tend to talk ourselves out of even trying until we’ve rehearsed to the point that failure would be a welcome reprieve. At least we could move on to something more worthy of our abilities.

Of course, the problem is that we never get the job done and we never know what might have been. Moving from where we are right now requires doing something we’ve never done. Or maybe we’ve done it a thousand times, but never before on this particular day and in this exact setting. The great job you did last week is in the past. It’s what you do this week that counts.

If there’s something you need to do, especially something you find a little intimidating, just do it. If you wait until you can perform to perfection, you’ll be waiting a long time. Odds are, if you blow it this time, you’ll get another chance. And with each one of those opportunities, you’ll get better and better until you wonder why you were ever afraid in the first place.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Forget the Clouds and Focus on the Forecast

Good morning, and happy Hump day! I hope your day is starting off well.

Those of you who have been following my posts for a while know I’ve been trying to lose weight. The bathroom scale knows how well I’ve been doing in that endeavor. For a while it was smiling at me almost every day. But over the past week or so, it hasn’t been quite so gracious. I’m thinking it needs a new battery. Maybe a few.

One of the reasons it’s so hard to lose weight is because the feedback is both instantaneous and brutally honest. The scale isn’t out to ruin your day or make you feel like a big fat loser. It has one job – report the facts. And the fact is, our weight can fluctuate from one day to the next. That’s why it’s important to focus on the overall trend instead of the daily feedback.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. A couple of years ago, my grandson and I built a shed with nothing more than a pile of lumber and my own imagination. And let me tell you, nothing very gratifying took place in the first few days. Turning over the ground and leveled is not fun work, and at the end all you have is a rectangle of dirt and some patio stones to show for your effort.

But over the next few days it began to take shape. And what sits in my backyard now is something worthy of all that effort. But there was enough frustration early on in the project to make us both question our sanity in taking on such a project. It happens.

In our business, things don’t always go according to plan. I’ll do the work that needs to be done, and nothing happens. I’ll fill my calendar with appointments, and the gods of destruction will swoop in and fill everybody else’s calendar with something else. People I need to call are not available. Customers need a little more time to decide. It’s all part of the game.

And any one of those setbacks could be enough to make a pessimist point to them and say, “See? I told you this won’t work!” But the overall trend tells a different story. It says, “You’re moving, and in the right direction. Just stick with the plan and you’ll get there.”

Setbacks are inevitable in anything we try to do. The boss changes requirements of the job just as you’re almost finished. Parts break. Pipes leak. Fuses blow and lights burn out. And that all-important tool you just can’t do without is nowhere to be found. Sure, it’s frustrating. But do we throw up our hands and walk away, or keep pushing forward?

When it’s our daily job, we don’t have a lot of choice in the matter. We mumble under our breath, let out a sigh of exasperation, and get back to work. We may even spend our entire lunch break checking the local job boards. But, short of actually finding another job, we do what has to be done.

So why are we so quick to give up on the things that matter most to us? There’s something you need to do toward your goals, but by the time you get home from work you’re just too tired. Besides, there’s grass to mow, bills to pay, dinner to eat – who has time? Excuses, excuses, excuses.

And it’s even harder in the very beginning when progress is that much harder to see. If I’d already lost thirty pounds, a week of bad news each morning would be a minor setback. But looking at the scale every day and seeing your original weight is a little harder to overcome.

The closer you are to the beginning of your goal, the harder it can be to see progress. My grandson and I spent a lot of time getting the ground leveled for that shed, and our only visible reward was a rectangle of dirt. The foundational work isn’t very gratifying, but it still needs to be done. Because, until we’ve built that foundation, we can’t begin to build on top of it.

As you define your goal, remember that every little step you take is a step closer toward your eventual success. But you have to keep taking those steps. Setbacks are simply a reminder that, if this was easy, everybody would be doing it. They exist to give us those gentle course corrections we need from time to time. And they’re a reminder that we need to keep going, to work past them.

Don’t let setbacks keep you from reaching your goals … on the job, at home, on the drive, or in your personal endeavors. Just keep doing what you need to be doing, and you’ll get there. It works every time.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved