It’s Okay to Be Comfortable, But You Still Need a Backup Plan

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

There are lots of things we take for granted. Your parents love you. That’s a big one. When you strap yourself into an airplane, you’ll arrive safely at your destination. That one involves a little more trust, but odds are it’s a safe bet. And when you flush the toilet, its contents are transported into a medieval abyss, never to be seen again. Unless you use too much paper. Then you’ll do more than just see it.

When you’re in an RV, there’s a way station between the commode and that mythical destination, one that fills up until you step outside and do something about it. And it’s not exactly like the scene from Christmas Vacation where Cousin Eddie is standing at the storm sewer in his bathrobe pumping you-know-what from a gurgling hose. I’m usually in pajamas and slippers.

Too much information? I know. But it’s one of the realities of RV living. The good part is you have another tank, one with a mild concentration of clean soapy water from the showers and sinks that does a really good job of flushing all the nasty stuff from the sewer hose. So, the last thing you see draining through that clear elbow at the end of the hose helps restore your appetite in time for dinner.

How long would it take you to make a list of all the things you take for granted? You know, things you just expect to happen a certain way, a cause and effect that occurs without so much as a second thought. It would be a daunting task and would likely fill an entire book by the time we’re done. And even then, we’d be taking it for granted that there’s nothing else we take for granted. Getting dizzy?

Taking something for granted amounts to nothing more than a leap of faith. If I turn the key, the engine starts. If I pull the ripcord, the parachute opens. And that gauge on the wall that says my RV’s propane tank is empty means it’s almost empty. God, please, let that be what it means. Otherwise, we’re in for a really cold night.

Taking things for granted is pretty much a way of life.  When a student applies for a college loan, they take it for granted they’ll find a job that, over the course of two decades, will pay a little more than the cost of the loan. And the lender takes it for granted they’ll pay the loan back. Talk about a leap of faith!

All our lives we’ve been told to get an education, find a good job, and climb the corporate ladder. And that’s great if you’re into ladders. The problem is most corporate jobs can be done just as well by somebody overseas for a whole lot less money. If you really want job security, become a plumber or learn to work on cars. Sorry, I just report the news. Don’t shoot the messenger.

I’m good at my job. I’ve never had to worry about being replaced because I don’t measure up or haven’t stayed up with emerging technology. Even at my age, employers place a premium on experience versus the potential health issues of age. Still, I know that any day they could come to me and say, “Dave, we’re sending your job offshore. It’s not personal – just business.”

Thanks to modern technology, remote work becomes more feasible and profitable by the day. That’s why I’m able to work from the RV, regardless of where it’s parked. It’s also why finding somebody halfway around the globe who’s willing to work the night shift in their time zone opens a world of opportunity for employers who need to cut costs.

So, while I take it for granted that reliability and doing a good job will keep me in my employer’s good graces, the reality is that I’m only here for as long as it’s profitable to keep me. And most of us, especially if you sit in a cubicle or work from home, are in the same boat.

So, what’s a person to do? Well, let me answer that with a question. Do you keep a spare tire in your car? Do you have a few dollars set aside for an emergency? Do you keep a few extra light bulbs in the house? Does your pantry have food you don’t plan to eat today? I could make some kind of profound statement here, but I think you get where this is headed.

Never before in our lifetime has it been more important to have a Plan B. Yes, rely on what you’ve built to this point in life and make the most of it. But realize that, in a moment, everything can change, and you may have to find a completely new way of getting things done. The sooner you find that something new and get started on it, even if it’s just on the side, the better you’ll be in the long run.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Don’t Have To Be Great – Just Good Enough

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

Last night I gave a presentation to a group of aspiring entrepreneurs. I like talking. If you knew me well, you’d already know that. And I like talking about dreams, motivation, and success. You know what they say. Those who can, have – those who haven’t, teach. Well, something like that. In other words, fake it till you make it. I’ve done that several times in my life.

I remember when I first took a job as a technical writer. I’d been a writer in my previous job, but I wasn’t hired in that role. I just convinced the right people I could do it, so they sat me in front of a computer. It was that or let me keep working on the shop floor, and by then I’d shared all my secrets with younger technicians who didn’t cost as much. I never said I was smart.

When I started my new job, I was excited. I remember telling my wife that my career title had forever changed. No longer was I the technician who could also write – I was a professional writer! Two weeks later, when I realized they’d hired me to write software documentation, my excitement at a new job title turned to panic that they’d soon figure out I was just faking it.

A couple of months later, my manager called me into her office. I remember thinking, “Here it comes.” I looked around at my desk to see if I had more than one box-full of personal effects and made a mental note of who all would be there to witness my inevitable walk of shame.

As I sat down, my manager asked me to close the door. Not a good sign. Then she said, “I don’t want any of the other folks to hear this, but every project manager has been asking for you to be assigned to their team. They said you’re the best technical writer they’ve ever seen!” I remember thinking, “Who the hell have they been working with???” I still wonder.

For each of us, there comes a point where we realize we’re better than we thought. Maybe at one thing, maybe at several things. Turns out I’m pretty good at putting away cheeseburgers & fries, too. You play the hand you’re dealt. A friend, who at the time was a novice newspaper columnist, once asked me, “Do you ever feel like we’re just faking it?” Yes. All the time.

It’s one thing if you can hang a diploma on the wall and add a few random letters after your name. That’s a qualification. It means you’ve earned the right to do whatever it is you do. You’re a trained expert. So what? Nobody taught Eric Clapton to play a guitar and he doesn’t have a single diploma hanging on his wall. Just a bunch of gold records. What a phony!

As a writer, it’s pretty simple. If you can write something people want to read, you’re qualified. The same is true of comedians, musicians, speakers, and just about everything except surgeons and airline pilots. I pretty much insist on seeing their credentials. But a diploma doesn’t make you good at something, and if you’re good enough, a diploma doesn’t matter. It’s just a formality.

Now, if you read that as “forget the education and just go fake it,” you missed my point. What I’m saying is that we all have some natural talents that, with a little development, can put us on top of our game. Whether that’s in creative pursuits, or business, or almost anything, your success is based more on desire and confidence than any amount of formal education.

There are things in this world that require the formalities and certifications, and for good reason. But there are many, many more that don’t. If you have a genuine desire to excel and a bare minimum of natural talent, there’s not much you can’t do.

I’ll never be a great singer. My choir director will back me up on that. But there are lots of other things I can do as well as anybody else, and so can you. Don’t let the lack of credentials or experience stop you from pursuing your goals. For every successful endeavor, somebody with no experience did it first. Everybody else is just imitating their success. Why not you?

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Keep Feeding Your Brain – There’s Always Room For More

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

This will be a week of training for me. Two different topics, and it’ll take up nearly every moment of each workday until Friday. Then we get to catch up on everything else we missed during the week. Isn’t that the way it usually goes? It’s like taking vacation. You get a week off, but you spend a week getting caught up before you go and another week catching up when you get back. Fun.

Still, I’ll never forget the advice my dad gave me when I joined the Navy. Well, the advice I can share here, anyway. Some of the rest is a blur. But one day he told me to never turn down any class that was offered – get as much education as they were willing to give. That’s the one piece of Dad’s advice I followed, and I still follow it to this day. You can never learn too much.

Well, again, I guess that depends on the setting. My oldest daughter used to give a little more information than I cared for. Ignorance may not be bliss, but sometimes it beats the alternative. But when it comes to something I can use on the job, or that can get me closer to my dreams, I’ll take all I can get.

Best of all, most of my co-workers will be in town this week to join us. Most of our team is home-based in states I normally only pass through, so the only contact we have is a morning conference call and texting about work. It’s rare that we actually get to see one another.

There’s a lot more going on this week besides the training, including a quarterly meeting for our entire team. And we’ve mixed in some after-work activities as well. Nothing like getting together with some old friends for an evening of camaraderie (and drinks). Last time we went bowling. Suffice to say we won’t be doing that again. Hopefully ever.

I don’t think most of us actually look forward to sitting in a classroom all day, trying to take notes and keep up with the instructor while battling the effects of carbohydrate overload that comes from sampling too many donuts and bagels. Some days, there isn’t enough coffee in the world. In the Navy, they always told us to stand up if we got sleepy. I never sat down.

Still, there’s something about learning a new skill, even if you don’t think you’ll ever use it. Just to know some of the background workings of the systems we use is interesting, and sometimes helpful. Because when you know how a system is put together, you know its strengths and limitations. And when things break, it gives you a little background on what it may take to fix it.

Granted, there are times when we fill our head with so much information that it’s hard to see past the written facts. The Navy took a lot of time to teach us the inner workings of a transistor, from a purely theoretical perspective. To this day, I can’t tell you a thing about it, other than to rattle off some terminology that means nothing to me. All I needed to know was how to tell when it’s broke.

But, as with most other things, you can’t really tell if something’s working unless you know what it’s supposed to do. Unless you can define success, failure becomes a lot more ambiguous. That’s why we sometimes find ourselves running full speed ahead down the wrong path – we don’t have a clear idea of the intended outcome, so we just keep going and hope the goal will step into our path.

We don’t know anything without learning it first. Even things that seem obvious, like “don’t put your hand on a hot stove” had to be learned. And some of those lessons came the hard way. So, any time you can put yourself in a setting to learn something the easy way, take advantage of it. Your brain can absolutely handle the excess knowledge. And you never know when it may come in handy.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved