Opportunity Knocks, But Only if the Door is Open

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

Sometimes, when you’re looking for solutions to a problem, things begin to appear out of thin air. At least that’s the way it feels. You know what you think you need, but something you never really considered comes along and says, “Here – try me.” It may be something very familiar, or something completely out of the blue. You just never know.

Yesterday morning, as I was starting my day, I got a completely unexpected email offering me some ongoing freelance work for the next several months. It’s work I’ve done before, and for a company and team with whom I truly enjoy working. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Anybody who’s ever applied for a military career has taken the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB as it’s known. It’s a long test full of questions designed to identify your ideal vocations. At the end, they give you some recommended options from which to choose. And the whole time you’re thinking, “Who wrote these questions???” Well, that would be me.

I first stumbled across this opportunity several years ago when my contract ended in a previous job. Unemployment will get you busy, and there’s no telling what you’ll turn up. And in all honesty, most of it is garbage. I’ll never forget the guy who wanted me to write a federal grant proposal so he could get the money to save a few acres of hunting land in a divorce. I wish I was making that up.

But somewhere through all of that, I came upon the opportunity to write a series of questions relating to general shop knowledge – wood shop, metal shop, etc. That blossomed into writing for four different sections of the test, and when the assignment was over, they promised I’d hear from them again. More than 1,000 questions later, they still reach out to me every time they get a new contract.

So, I guess you could say this one didn’t literally just drop out of the air. I have a history with this company, and it’s paid off well. But if I had never gone looking for freelance work that first time, I’d have never heard about the new opportunity today. They’d have found somebody else years ago who could do the job just as well, and that’s who would have gotten the call this time.

It’s hard to tell sometimes exactly what will grow when you plant a seed. But if you never went looking for a seed in the first place, the answer is weeds – because, in my experience, weeds are perennial and grow in every square inch of ground that doesn’t have something else growing in it. The best way to avoid weeds is to choke them out with the good stuff.

Sometimes, the best things in life take the longest to cultivate. I read that a cherry seed can take up to 100 years to germinate and begin to grow. In that length of time, it’s likely the grower will have gotten impatient and planted a dozen other things right next to it. But sooner or later, a stalk with a few little leaves will begin to emerge and grow into a magnificent hardwood specimen.

It works that way with relationships, jobs, business ideas, and any number of things we really want. But unless you go looking for a seed in the first place, there’s nothing to plant and nothing to cultivate. And in its absence, weeds will grow. The most beautiful sprawling lawn was once an undeveloped eyesore. Somebody had to see its potential beauty long before it began to show.

If there’s something you want to do, something you’d like to improve, or something you think you’d like to drop out of thin air when you need it the most, now is the time to start planting those seeds. If we wait until we’re hungry to plant a garden, we’ll be eating dirt for several months before anything good comes up. Dig the well before you get thirsty. Find the solution before you have the need.

We can’t take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way. But make no mistake, if we don’t take a chance on any of them, we’ll find fewer new opportunities coming along behind them. Opportunity favors those who seek it. It only knocks if the door is open and the lights are on. But if you close the door and turn off the lights, it’ll just move on to somebody who wants it more.

Plant those seeds. Put a little faith in something that may not look so awesome on the surface. The most radiant diamond was once a chunk of coal. If you open your eyes and your mind, there’s a diamond in the rough right there in front of you. All you have to do is pick it up and do something to really make it shine.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Want to Change the Outcome, Change the Routine

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

As you go through your morning routine each day, does it ever occur to you just how much of a routine that is? With very minor exceptions, most of us do pretty much the same thing every day from the moment we get up until we get to work or begin whatever activities normally consume our day. I suspect even retired people have a routine. I’m not there yet, but I’ll find out soon enough.

My dog makes sure at least part of that routine goes uninterrupted. He’s patient while I get a shower and get dressed. But about the time he thinks I should be done, he’s patiently tapping his paws on the floor, waiting for me to sit in the recliner, give him his morning hug, and then let him out while I fill his food bowl. Then he comes in and starts the vitamin dance. He gets two. And he can count.

Dogs are such creatures of habit. And we are, too. When you get up tomorrow morning, try changing up your routine. If you normally brush your teeth first, do something else. Go to the kitchen and get a glass of water. Then brush your hair. Yes, before you get in the shower. Who cares if you’ll have to do it again? The fun part of this exercise is to see just how much it throws off your routine.

You may want to make a checklist the night before, because odds are you’ll forget something. You’ll get halfway to work and realize your computer is still sitting by the front door. Believe me, I’ve done that one without even trying. When we skip any step in our routine, intentionally or not, we’re like that confused dog, trying to find our place so we can get back to normal.

It’s all a matter of habit – habits so deeply ingrained in our very being that we do them without even thinking. Like wiping your mouth after a sip of water or closing a pen before you put it in your pocket. Oh, we miss from time to time. Something distracts us and we forget to do something. And then you get home and see a big blob of ink on your shirt pocket and realize what you forgot. Oops!

I guess I’m showing my age, because most shirts don’t have pockets anymore. Somehow, pockets have gone out of style. At least that’s what my wife keeps telling me. And that’s for women, because you carry a purse that’s big enough to hold the contents of six dozen pockets. If I need someplace to put a ballpoint pen, I’ve only got a couple of choices.

 And just like our morning routines, we have tastes in clothing, food, décor, and a bunch of other things that we’re reluctant to change. Are blue shirts a habit with me? Not really. But I do like blue shirts – with pockets. But, just like my favorite Halloween candy (peanut butter kisses), they’re getting harder and harder to find. So, I have to adapt. Reluctantly, I’ll admit. But I don’t have much choice.

We all like to think we’re spontaneous, but we’re creatures of habit more than we think. And if we want to change the direction of our lives, we have to change some of those habits. Because, just like a model train, the track always leads to the same destination unless we do something to change it. The train can’t make any turns on its own – it simply follows the track. Real trains do that, too.

It’s fun to watch a train run around in circles, but after a while it gets a little boring. The same thing happens when we put ourselves on a circular track where the scenery never changes. We get up every day at the same time, do the same things, follow the same routines, and then wonder why life never changes. It’s pretty simple. If you want to move ahead, you have to get on another track.

And that means shaking things up a bit. You have to break the routine and change some of those long-held habits. You might even have to try a different kind of candy or find someplace else to put your pen. But it’s the only way to move from where you are now to where you want to be.

Change is difficult, but you’ve done it before. All you have to do is decide on a new direction and break the routine enough to follow that path. The change may be so subtle, you barely even notice. But like a ship at sea, the smallest change can lead you to an entirely new destination. Set yourself on a new course and follow it to the end. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved