Opportunity Flows Easiest Into an Open Mind

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

Mine began with a moment of frustration. After weeks of considering what to do with two old gas grills that have been rusting on the back porch since the days of Moses, I finally dragged them out to the street. It’s garbage day, and we always have people cruising the streets looking for scrap metal or anything else they can use. Well, as it turns out, almost always. Guess what’s still sitting on the curb?

Now I have to go out there before I leave for work and drag them back up to the house. Isn’t that the way it works? People will come along and collect any kind of junk on the planet, but my junk doesn’t rise to their standards. Broken down lawnmowers, old furniture, TVs and even fried-out microwave ovens, all get picked up by somebody. But my old grills, full of recyclable steel, get left behind.

You can never predict what will appeal to another person. Corporations spend millions of dollars trying to figure it out, and millions more convincing us that what they sell is exactly what we want, whether we already knew that or not. I guess I could find a way to make those old grills more appealing, but then I’d be tempted to put them back on the patio for another ten years.

Have you ever seen somebody driving a car that you think is the ugliest thing on the planet? And not only are they sitting in the driver’s seat where everybody can see their smiling face as they drive past, they adorn the car with equally ugly after-market accessories that probably cost as much as a week’s groceries. You’d never be seen dead in it, but they think it’s the most awesome car around.

One man’s junk is truly another man’s treasure. It works that way with a lot of things. Every day, we encounter people in professions we’d never consider. Sometimes they’re quick to let you know it beats unemployment, but other times they seem to love their work. You just never can tell. And if they knew what any of us do for a living, they’d probably shake their head and say, “Not on your life.”

I guess it’s why my mom always insisted that we take at least one bite of everything on our plate. Sushi isn’t the most attractive food I’ve seen, and the thought of it was a little revolting. But I tried some one time and liked it. Over the years I’ve developed a taste for all kinds of things. Except broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. I’m convinced God created them as a punishment for eating apples.

The point is, we never know what may appeal to another person, and things we never considered before sometimes become a little more intriguing. Even our values change over time. I often find myself debating topics with people who feel exactly as I once did, and as fervently as they now do. Yet, over the years, my viewpoints have grown. That’s not to say I’m any more right – I’m just more “me.”

It’s easy to look at another person, even a member of our own family, and think, “They’d never be interested in that.” Believe me, I almost fell over when my wife and I took a weekend vacation to the mountains and she suggested hiking. And I’m sure she was equally shocked at how much I enjoyed our day in a restored Shaker village, learning about their tools, furnishings, and unique way of life.

All through your life, people will suggest things you never would have thought of on your own. It may be as simple as a different food or drink, or as complex as a side business or new career. It’s easy to shrug it off and say, “That’s just never been my thing.” Yet, the very fact that you can go into a grocery store and come home with a variety of foods is proof that you haven’t always been so closed-minded.

We find new things by opening our mind to new things. We may or may not come to truly enjoy any of them, but we never know unless we at least give them some consideration. It’s just possible all those people out there running marathons know something I don’t. “But I tried running once and didn’t like it.” Seems I’ve heard those words before.

Just because we didn’t like something before doesn’t mean we won’t like it now. And things we didn’t consider before somehow begin to make sense. But only if we open our mind enough to change the question from “why” to “why not?” It’s a simple change. One extra word. But it’s a change that can lead us to new opportunities, greater accomplishments, and a more fulfilling life. And isn’t that what we wanted all along?

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Earn What You Deserve, and You Deserve What You’ve Earned

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is starting off just right.

So, the year is half over … how are you doing on your goals for the year? Yeah, I know. I didn’t even set that one up with a light jab. I just went straight for the knockout punch. But it’s a question we all need to answer if we want to accomplish anything worthwhile.

And I’m not even talking about New Year’s resolutions, because we all know how that went. According to Forbes Magazine, only 8% of us have accomplished our resolutions for the year. The rest of us gave up long ago. I made a resolution once to never again make a New Year’s resolution, and I even broke that one. Go figure.

I’ve made a little progress toward my goals for the year. Not nearly as much as I’d envisioned by this point in the year, but it’s a step in the right direction. And sometimes, that’s the hardest part. It’s easy to make a decision, to commit to making a positive change. Doing something about it takes a little more effort. And that’s where most of us fall short.

The problem is largely in our minds – we know what needs to be done, but maybe we don’t think we can actually do it. Or we blow it out of proportion and make it a lot more dramatic than it really is. After all, who wants to celebrate tying their shoes every morning? If I’m going to spend my time and energy on something, it’s got to be something BIG!

Another thing is that sense of entitlement, or the lack of it. We know what we want. We’re even willing to work for it. But do we really deserve it? After all, everybody around us is right about where we are in life. What makes us so special? Why should we have anything more than the people who are doing exactly what we’re doing every day?

Well, if we’re going to put forth exactly the same amount of effort as everyone else, then we haven’t really earned anything better. That kid who studies hard every day, puts forth their best effort, and turns in every assignment on time, deserves an A. And then there’s that kid who goofs off all day and would love to get an A, but knows deep down he doesn’t deserve it.

It’s when we question our entitlement to enjoy a better life that we find it hard to put forth the effort. We dream about it, but deep down there’s that nagging reminder that, for most of the people enjoying that life, they already put forth the effort. They did the work and now they’re reaping the reward. And here we are, still thinking about it.

What sets achievers apart from the rest of us isn’t heredity or education or upbringing or even blind luck. It’s the willingness to work for something better. It’s having a dream, believing in themselves enough to go for it, and following through until they reach their goal. And, just like that student in school working for an A, they’ve earned success. They deserve it.

And make no mistake, there will be some who scoff at their ambitions or try to take away that sense of entitlement for something they’re doing the work to accomplish. “Seriously? You’ve lived on this side of town your whole life! You never even went to college! What makes you think you deserve to live over there?”

And if nobody says that to us directly, we’ll fill in the blanks. Because our brain only knows what it’s been taught. Every bit of knowledge comes from something in our past – something we experienced, something we learned, or even something we saw somebody else try. And it’s hard to get our brain to think beyond what it knows.

But if you’re out there working for something you want, not letting anything stand in the way, you absolutely deserve the success for which you’re working. If that person sitting next to you thinks they deserve the same level of success as you, then maybe they should be out there working for it as well.

Dreaming is easy, and it’s really not so much of a stretch to believe we could someday achieve our dreams. But that element of entitlement, of knowing we’ve earned the success we desire, comes from putting forth the effort. The harder you work, the more deserving you feel, and that makes you want to work even harder.

You deserve whatever level of success you desire and are willing to work to achieve. Life isn’t always fair, but it tends to show a preference for those who earn what they desire. Take that first step. It’s really not as big as it seems. Just do the work and believe in yourself. The reward will be that much sweeter knowing what it took to get there.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Work Hard, Play Hard – You’ve Earned It

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

I’m taking a rare day off in the middle of the week. I’d like to say I just felt like it, but that’s not quite true. I just don’t like to use my paid time off without a pretty good reason. I’d rather save it up for something fun. If I take off sick, halfway through the day I’m bemoaning the fact that I burned up a day of vacation time to sit around the house and feel bad. It’s just never been my thing.

I guess I got that trait from my dad. I remember asking him once if we could put the boat in the water and spend a day fishing. But Dad’s job required that he worked weekends, with two weekdays off. I remember saying, “Just call in sick. You’ve got all that sick leave anyway.” He said no and told me, “You never know when I may need that sick time for something real.”

Well, not too many years later, that premonition came home to roost. After a massive heart attack that almost ended his life, he had to spend the next three months going through corrective procedures and recovery before he was able to return to work. And he had enough sick leave on the books to cover every single day of that time. Message received, Dad.

Last year as I faced surgery, it was comforting to know I had enough paid time off on the books to cover the time before short-term disability would kick in. And, even at that, I still ended up having to sell back some vacation time because the company wouldn’t let me carry over more than 140 hours to the next year. I’ll have a balance at the end of this year as well.

Now, all that sounds good and responsible, right? But you know what else it is? It’s exhausting. There’s a reason companies don’t let us carry over an unlimited amount of vacation time from one year to the next. They want us to use some, because they know all too well the effects of burnout. It robs us of productivity and, left unchecked, can lead to some pretty serious health issues.

In my posts, I talk a lot about work and effort and getting things done. And those things are important. They keep our mind and body active, and that helps keep us alive. But there’s also a time to step away from work and enjoy a little of what you’ve been working for. Whether that’s a family vacation, a weekend outing, or just some quiet time at home, we need it.

Make no mistake, some of the healthiest and most vibrant people I know are the ones who always seem to be coming back from vacation in places most of us only dream about. And it shows in their productivity on the job. It’s not hard to put in a little extra effort when you’re well-rested. It’s also not hard to put in that extra effort when you know there’s something enjoyable coming.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I keep a picture of a motorhome on my desk. It’s not there to keep me from forgetting what it looks like. I can see them every day on the road as somebody else motors down the road, living my dream. I keep that picture because it reminds me every day of what I’m working for. It’s why I do the extra things I do. It’s what makes that extra effort worthwhile.

A song in the 1980s suggested that everybody’s working for the weekend. I think that was more a reference to short-term romance, but it raises an important question. Are we all just working to get through the week and take two days off, or do we have something bigger in mind? Is there something other than Friday that motivates us to get out of bed every day? I sure hope so.

We all have to earn a living and, for most of us, that means going to work every day. If you have dreams that your job won’t quite support, you may have to put in a little extra work on the side. But if you don’t take time to rejuvenate, and don’t have a reward waiting at the end, it’s just work. Do that for 45 years and you’ll see firsthand why some people grow old way before their time.

If you’re going to work, make sure you know what you’re working for. And take a little time along the way to sample the lifestyle you hope to achieve. The break will do you good. And the people around you may thank you for it as well.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

When You Know the Destination, the Path Will Present Itself

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

Have you ever walked through an airport and seen people lined up for a plane going to someplace you’ve never had any desire to visit? In fact, you’ve never even heard anybody talk about going there. You think, “Is that the best they could afford?”

But what we never seem to think about is the fact that, for a good number of those travelers, the plane’s destination isn’t their final stop. It’s just a place to stop and change planes for someplace better. And, if you look a little closer, you can usually pick up a few clues. If they’re wearing short pants and sandals, it’s not likely they’ll be spending a lot of time in Detroit.

Sometimes, we find ourselves on a journey we never thought we’d take because it leads us to someplace better. I mentioned a while back that, when I was in high school, trash collectors in New York City were being paid $30 an hour. Now, that’s decent money today, but imagine how much it was forty years ago. It would be the equivalent of more than $130 an hour today.

Now, I seriously doubt that when the kindergarten teacher went around the room and asked the class what they wanted to be when they grew up, that a single person said, “I want to drive a garbage truck!” More likely, they saw an opportunity to do a job most other people weren’t willing to do, and to make a lot of money doing it. Do that for a few years and you open up a lot of options.

Likewise, none of us took on our first job in high school with the intent that it would be our lifelong career. I made okay money bagging groceries, but it was more about having a little money in my pocket without having to cut grass in the south Florida heat to get it. It was simply a way to get closer to the path I really wanted to be on … you know, being a rock star.

Now, how exactly does bagging groceries prepare you for life as an internationally-acclaimed recording artist? It doesn’t. There were a dozen other jobs I could have done, from fast food worker (been there) to pumping gas at the service station (yes, I really AM that old). It was simply a way to get from point A to point B, with point B involving some extra money to buy stage equipment.

Along the way, my career changed. Several times, in fact. If anybody had told me as a teenager that I’d end up as a business analyst for a health insurance company, I’d have fallen down laughing. If they’d told me I would start that journey as an electronics technician, with detours in long-haul trucking and stand-up comedy, I’d have never believed it. Yet, here I am.

And you know what? This still isn’t the final leg of my journey. I love the job I have today, but let’s qualify that statement with, “If I have to get up and go to work, I’m very happy with the job I’ve got.” But it’s not what I want to do every day for the rest of my life. At some point, I’d like to step back, hand over the reins, and see what all these retired people are so happy about.

And you know what? It takes money to retire, just as it takes money to buy stage equipment. I’ve been building a business on the side so that, instead of having to divide my savings by the number of years I hope to live, I can maintain an income through retirement. Financial experts call that “diversification.” I call it survival.

And, if you’d told me forty years ago that, of all the businesses out there this is the one I’d have chosen, I wouldn’t have believed it. But when we’re looking at the destination, it’s sometimes hard to know the path we’ll take to get there. You go to the airport and tell the ticket agent you want to go to Tahiti. Next thing you know, you’re on a plane for Detroit. Who would’ve guessed?

If you know your destination, how you get there becomes a little less important. You don’t mind doing something you hadn’t imagined beforehand, as long as it takes you where you want to go. And, it’s not like anybody is asking you to ride in the back of a dump truck. There are lots of ways to get where we want to go in relative comfort and ease. We just have to pick one.

It’s when we close our eyes to possibilities that the destination becomes harder to achieve. The quickest path to that destination may be the last one you’d have considered. But once you’re on that plane, it doesn’t matter where you stop next. All that counts is where you’re going.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Excuses Are Free – And Worth Every Penny

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

Okay, so for those of you who may be wondering, I’m not going to dodge the issue of all the work I was supposed to do this weekend and talk about puppies and butterflies. Both are a lot more enjoyable than the work I had on my list for the weekend and would be my usual go-to when I missed a goal that I’d already told everybody about and had to come up with something quick.

I don’t have to. I did exactly what I said I’d do this weekend. My office now occupies a freshly cleaned space in the basement and the old office is now a bedroom. And, because I know my cousin won’t let me off the hook on this, I got the new toilet seat installed. Now I need to go to work so I can get some rest.

Once I got started, it didn’t take all that long. Don’t get me wrong, we were still working on it past 10:00 last night. But that’s how things seem to go. You put it off until there’s no other option, and once you get started you find energy you didn’t know you had. And all those interruptions that previously kept you from working become just another part of the job.

I guess it’s normal to put off something unpleasant, especially when it cuts into our “me” time. But one look around my basement and it’s obvious what that kind of procrastination creates. (If I made you think the whole basement is cleaned, think again!) The work we need to do never just sits there and waits. It multiplies. Meanwhile, we’re just delaying the inevitable.

And I won’t lie. At the start of the weekend, I had a mental list of reasons that maybe this wouldn’t be the best time to get that work done. My wife must have sensed my lack of enthusiasm, because she started making excuses for me. On the other hand, that may have just been a built-in defense mechanism. It’s hard to get upset with somebody for being lazy when you gave them permission.

Now, as I face the coming week and the things I need to get done, excuses pretty much go right out the window. Especially when it comes to those seemingly minor tasks I always seem to avoid. You know, the ones that nobody is paying me to do, so nobody can complain if I wait another day. Nobody, that is, except me.

There are things I need to do for my personal goals, aside from my job and cleaning and moving heavy furniture up and down a flight of stairs. Those things will always be there. And, I can always use those things as an excuse when I don’t work on my personal goals. Come on! I’m tired! Is a little rest too much to ask? Besides, it’s not like I can’t do it tomorrow! Sound familiar?

And, the truth is, it really can be done tomorrow. Or the day after, or next week, or next month. But meanwhile, that dream sits in a corner and collects dust. Or worse yet, it waits for somebody else to come along who wants it more. And we’ll find an excuse or two along the way. But not one of those excuses will get us any closer to our goal.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a picture of a motorhome hanging over my desk. I’ve seen it up close. I’ve sat in the driver’s seat, reclined on the sofa, stood in the shower, and checked out the fridge. And, in my mind’s eye, I’ve seen those miles of open road and beautiful scenic views unfold through the windshield as we explore yet another new destination.

I want that motorhome. I want it so bad I can taste it. But what I have to decide is which I want more … the motorhome, or the excuses. Because I can’t have both. Just like I couldn’t have an office and a third bedroom occupying the same small space. In the end, it all comes down to a choice. Which is more important?

You have dreams. If there’s something you need to do in order to accomplish those goals, then do it. This book I’m reading points out that the purpose of working toward a goal isn’t as much to accomplish that specific goal, but to turn you into the kind of person who can accomplish any goal. Likewise, doing what needs to be done turns you into the kind of person who gets everything done.

More often than not, the things we need to do aren’t monumental. They’re simply a series of small tasks that, taken in succession, lead to success. Find those small tasks and start knocking them out. The results may not be immediately visible, but with each step you’re that much closer to your goal.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Make Every Day Your Special Day

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

It’s Monday, and you know what that means. A whole new week to get out there and get closer to your dreams! What? Did you really think I was going to remind you that it’s a new week at work? You already knew that. And just in case you didn’t, there are plenty of people there who will be happy to remind you.

Monday is one just another day of the week, but it sure seems to get a bad rap. Ask somebody how their day is going, and the common answer is, “Not bad, for a Monday.” I guess if you set your expectations low enough, it’s not hard to measure up. Funny, you never hear anybody say their day is going pretty well for a Friday. I guess Friday gets a free pass based on its position on the calendar.

But it’s all a matter of perspective. If your goal is to just get through the week as quickly as possible, Monday is an obstacle and Friday is the reward. The other days just go by without much fanfare. Wednesday gets a little extra bump, simply because it’s the halfway point. It’s “Hump Day.” Thursday is “Friday Eve”, and Tuesday is “Well, at least it’s not Monday.”

It would be comical if not for the fact that we go through the same ritual every week. Unless you’re on vacation. Those are the weeks that fly past despite our best effort to make the days drag on as long as possible. Have you ever heard anybody on a cruise ship say it’s an okay day, considering it’s Monday? It’s more like, “What day is it? Monday? Wow, this week is going by fast!”

The key to making any day special, something you look forward to, is having a personal goal for the day. I’m not talking about meat loaf night, which would certainly be high on my list of things to make the day special. I’m talking about a goal that, once you’ve accomplished it, puts you closer to an even greater accomplishment that you can truly celebrate.

In my early days of stand-up comedy, we had Blue Monday at our local comedy club. Tuesday night there was a local open mic show, Wednesday was showcase night, and so on. Every weekday it seems, I had opportunities to get onstage somewhere and work on my set. Weekends, on the other hand, were reserved for those who had already paid their dues. The rest of us just sat and watched.

Back then I went through most weekends looking forward to Monday. Sure, I had to get up first and go to work. But I had a personal goal for each day during the week, something aside from just getting through another day at work and getting one day closer to a weekend when I’d have to sit there and wish I had something “fun” to do. As I said, it’s all a matter of perspective.

I’m once again in a position where I look forward to Monday, and each day of the week. I’m working on a goal that requires being around other people, interacting with them, and sharing ourselves with one another. Every day is a prime day to work toward that goal, but weekdays are best because people are just generally more accessible. On weekends, they’re all off doing something else.

So, I wake up each day during the week with a goal, something I want to accomplish before the day is done. And achieving that goal is as simple as doing what I said I was going to do. I don’t need instant results to validate that effort. It’s not about seeing how quickly I can reach my ultimate objective, but just doing what needs to be done to get there. The results will come.

When you look at the day in those terms, every day takes on a whole new importance. Maybe you’re into cross-stitch, and you’re trying to spend an hour each day working on your next creation. Maybe you’re trying to write a book and your goal is three new pages each day. Every day becomes yet another opportunity to put you closer to your goal.

We can spend our days just trying to get to bedtime, to the weekend, through the month, and through the year. Ultimately, that’s just a beeline to the other end of life, and often with nothing more to show for it than a tired old body and a lot of unfulfilled dreams.

Make each day special. Define your dream and decide what you need do each day to get closer to it. Commit to the effort, then follow through. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time – just enough to put you a little closer to your goal. Do that, and you’ll look forward to every day. Even Monday.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Every Failure Brings You That Much Closer to Success

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

You know that feeling when you’ve been working away at something day after day with no visible results? You know what needs to be done, and you’ve been doing it, yet none of it seems to have moved you any closer to your goal. For all practical purposes, it seems you end each day right back where you started.

I imagine it feels that way for software developers. You write line after line of code, for days on end, with a simple goal in mind – you want to turn on a computer, press a few keys, and see things magically happen. But until that last line of code is written, you have no way of knowing for sure if what you’ve done will yield any measurable results. Everything in between is just work.

It’s that way with a lot of the things we do. We work and work and work, and waiting for the visible results can seem to be an eternity. This is especially true with raising kids. You put forth the effort every day for years before you find out if you did the job well. Oh, we’ll get little indications of success along the way, but it can literally take a lifetime to see the full impact of our effort.

Still, every little thing we’ve done contributes in some small (or not so small) way toward the overall results. We may not see the results immediately, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. When you’re on a cross-country trip, you probably don’t celebrate every one of those mileposts along the way, even though each one is getting you closer to where you want to be.

But when the road is closed, and a detour takes you several miles out of your way, you breathe a big sigh of relief when all those twists and turns finally put you back on the highway you were on. The goal is that much closer, and you set the cruise control with a feeling of accomplishment at having navigated unfamiliar territory without getting lost in the process. You da man!

For the past several weeks, I’ve been putting forth a fair amount of effort in one of my personal goals without any visible results. It happens. My mentors, people who have been where I am and have gone far beyond where I hope to be, all keep telling me the same thing – just keep doing what needs to be done. Put forth the effort on a consistent basis, and the results will come.

Well, they were right. Over the weekend, some of that work paid off and I was able to celebrate a win. It’s a small win in the overall scheme of things, but one of many that will lead me closer to my goal. And, for that very reason, it’s a huge win. Because every step in the right direction validates not only the effort, but the self-confidence that got you moving in the first place.

As challenging as it can be to succeed, it’s even more challenging to work through those times when things just don’t work the way we’d planned. To be certain, some of those times actually put us further from our goal than we were to start with, and it takes that much more work just to get back to where we started. After a while, you begin to wonder if it’s even worth taking that next step.

But sometimes we have to find out what doesn’t work in order to find what does. Mom used to say there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and she was right. But for everything that gets the job done and brings you closer to your goal, there may be hundreds of approaches that won’t work. And in the very act of eliminating those that don’t work, we move closer to the ones that will.

Those software developers know exactly what I’m talking about. If any of them ever tell you they’ve never written a faulty line of code, and that every one of their creations worked exactly as planned on the very first try, don’t trust them in a real estate deal.

Creation, of any kind, is a process of trial and error. You have to be willing to fail in order to succeed. And when those failures come, you have to be willing to dust yourself off and keep moving. Because what you’ve experienced isn’t truly a failure – it’s just another step along the path to success.

Decide what you want and then put forth whatever amount of effort is required to get you there. Remember these words – I will, until. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll experience setbacks. But as long as you keep doing the things you need to do the results will come. Stay focused and keep moving. Success isn’t just possible – it’s inevitable.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved