Effort and Belief – It Takes Two

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

I’ve been reading a new book, The Miracle Equation by Hal Elrod. If you’re into motivational books, I highly recommend this one. If you’re not, I highly recommend you give it a try. There’s none of the mystery or romance in a typical novel. Just a couple-hundred pages of info on how each and every one of us can make our lives better. You know – boring stuff.

That’s what you would think by the way some people react. “How can you read that stuff?” My response to that is, “How can you not?” We’ll read a recipe book. We’ll read an instruction manual on how to fix a car. For some people, romance novels are a “how-to” for their love life (or what they wish it could be). But we won’t read a few pages about how to achieve success in life.  Seriously?

What I like about this book is that it takes a detour from the beaten path and suggests a concept many of the others tend to leave out. While some authors put all their emphasis on self-confidence and focusing on a dream, this book suggests that believing in yourself (unwavering faith) is only half the equation – you may have to actually work for it.

The two, faith and effort, go hand-in-hand. Have you ever set out on a trip with no confidence you’d reach your destination? Okay, I’ve owned a few cars that made me say an extra prayer, but you get the point. If we had no faith in our ability to safely reach a destination, we’d never leave the house.

But, sitting around the house staring at pictures of the beach won’t make it materialize in your front yard. If you want to smell the salt air and feel the warmth of the sun, you have to put down the travel brochure and do something about it. You may even have to drive. A lot. And with each mile that passes, the closer you get to your destination, the more real it begins to feel. And the more real it begins to feel, the more determined you are to get there.

I talk a lot in my posts about dreams as the basis for action. I talk about how we’re all wired for success and are naturally driven to it. I talk about believing in yourself enough to know that you can accomplish anything. But something I don’t talk about much is the effort that makes it all happen. I guess I don’t like talking about work any more than most other people.

But work is an important part of the equation. In the popular children’s book, a little train engine sat there repeating “I think I can, I think I can!” But until it put forth the effort to start moving, nothing happened. It was the combination of faith and effort that made the little train move. We’re no different. We can sit there and think about it all day. But at some point, we have to take action.

In the past, I’ve quoted Napoleon Hill who once said, “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” I love those words, because they simply say if we can dream something up and have faith in our ability to achieve it, nothing can stop us from doing it. But it leaves out one very important part – we have to do the necessary work to make it happen.

And that begins with having a plan, knowing what to do and how to get the most from all that effort. A couple of days ago, a pickup truck next to me sat at a traffic light spinning its tires so fast they were smoking. There was a lot of “think I can” going on there, a lot of exuberance on the part of the driver, and a lot of effort (gas) being expended. But the truck wasn’t going anywhere.

We sometimes do the same in the excitement of starting on a new goal. The light turns green and we mash the pedal to the floor. As we’re sitting there burning through all our energy, the rest of the world calmly moves ahead. It doesn’t take long for us to realize we’re not going anywhere, so we back off the gas and try a different approach. Hopefully we still have some energy left.

On the other hand, too much planning can be paralyzing. It’s one thing to think about what you need to do. It’s another thing to just sit there and keep thinking about it. At some point, you have to take a leap of faith and get started.  You’ll know in an instant if you’re moving forward or spinning your wheels.

Belief makes things possible, but effort makes things happen. Believe in yourself enough to do the work, and work hard enough to justify your belief. Then do both for as long as it takes. The reward is worth it. And so are you.

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

Give Your Best in Whatever You Do

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

This has been a week of pretty intense work. It happens that way sometimes. Assignments are coming in as fast as you can handle them, and they’re all the kind that requires a lot of thought and effort. It’s not always fun when you’re in the middle of it, but it does make you realize why the company pays you to do this job.

I’ve often said that, especially at this age, we don’t work for a paycheck as much as we work for the satisfaction of knowing we made a difference. Sure, pay is important. But so is the personal gratification that comes from making the most of your skills to do the job well.

We do the same thing off the job, whether we realize it or not. Raising kids is one of those areas of life where you have to constantly tap your knowledge and experience and pull out the very best from your bag of tricks to do the best job possible. That’s not to say you’re doing anything deceptive. Just that you learn (sometimes the hard way) the best approach for each situation.

When I cut the grass, I tap on more than fifty years of experience. When I work on the car, I know exactly which tools I’ll need and when to use them. When I paint a room, I know why it’s important to cut in around the ceiling and baseboards before I grab the roller. And I know the value of a drop cloth placed carefully over upholstered furniture. As I said, some lessons we learn the hard way.

My granddaddy always used to say if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Everything we do is worthy of our best effort. Whether it’s something major, like building a storage shed from scratch, or something as routine as going to the grocery store, if we have to do the job anyway, why not give it our best effort? And in doing that, we build the experience to do it even better the next time.

Until they change up all the aisles in the grocery store and move everything where you can’t find it. Stores love to do that. It’s their way of keeping you in the store a little longer so you’ll see items you’d normally walk right past as you search for the items you want. They’ve learned that, by moving things around a little, you’ll pick up a few extra items along the way.

Now the stores are offering a service where you don’t even have to go inside to shop. It doesn’t matter where everything is hidden, because all you have to do is go online and tell them what you want, then sit in the parking lot while they load the groceries into your car. In fact, some are now offering in-home delivery where they bring the groceries in the house and put them away.

It’s all about standing above the competition, doing the job a little better than anybody else. And they’ve learned that times are changing, and some people really don’t like to shop. Brick & mortar retailers have put a lot of effort into building a strong online presence because more and more, people prefer the convenience of shopping from home.

But what would happen if the grocery store put its worst picks of produce and fattiest cuts of meat into your order, leaving the “pretty” stuff for customers who took time to go inside and pick out their own groceries? Not only would you stop using their online service, you’d probably find someplace else to shop and they’d lose your business for good. They know that.

So, again, if the job is worth doing, it’s worth doing the job right. It’s worth going the extra mile. And we all do it. What services do you offer, either on the job or off, to make people appreciate your effort and give them confidence in your ability to do the job just a little better than anybody else?

Some people bring donuts to work. That’s always a pleasant surprise. Some wipe down the counter as they’re waiting on coffee to brew. Maybe you take a little extra time to highlight areas of a report that you know the boss will want to see. Maybe you add a special ingredient into your family’s dinner. And maybe, instead of just reading a book to a toddler, you read it with enthusiasm.

All through the day, we do things for the benefit of others. We don’t do it just to stay busy. We do it for the satisfaction of a job well done and maybe to gain a little appreciation along the way. If you’re going to do the job anyway, give it your best. It’s a habit that’ll spill over to other areas of life where that extra effort could make all the difference in the world.

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