You’ve Practiced – Now Do It!

I was thinking about my grandson today, wondering how he’s holding up in boot camp. A lot of memories started to flood in, and among them was his penchant for rehearsing conversations that may or may not ever take place. Do you know anybody like that? We’ve all done it at one time or another. But this kid takes it to a level of commitment I’ve never seen.

And I guess it’s good to think through what you plan on saying, especially if it’s something that may not be well-received. Like when you’re telling the boss you want a raise, or letting your wife know you’d rather not eat last night’s “special” dinner again this century. Get that one wrong, and you may not want to eat anything else she cooks for a while. I’m just saying.

But there comes a point where we can rehearse things so much, we never really get around to the real thing. And, even if we do, odds are nobody else was there for rehearsal, so they don’t know how the conversation is supposed to go anyway. You say something, and they think you want them to respond with whatever comes to mind, not some carefully scripted dialogue only you know.

In his book Ten Powerful Phrases for Positive People, Rich Devos wrote “If you wait until you have all the knowledge and experience you think you need, you’ll never take a risk or achieve a goal.” My mom had another way of expressing that thought, but I won’t repeat it here. Her philosophy was don’t take up space in the outhouse if you’re just sitting there thinking about it.

When I was getting ready to begin my career in standup comedy, I read several books, watched a few live open mic shows, then wrote what I thought was the funniest five minutes of material in the history of show business. Then I set up a video camera in the basement and practiced. That alone should have deterred me from ever stepping onstage, but I never claimed to be a genius.

Still, there came that point where I had to turn off the camera, set aside my notes, and make a decision … do I call the club and get a spot on the show, or just sit here and dream about it? I made the call. Not only did I book myself in the next open mic show, I invited everybody I knew to come watch. I guess I figured there was no way I’d chicken out with that many witnesses.

That was the first of about 1500 shows for me and, after a while, I got pretty good at it. But it wasn’t until I stopped rehearsing every set word-for-word as I paced nervously outside the club that I finally learned to relax and enjoy it. And that’s when my audiences started to enjoy it as well. Sure, I missed a few lines and made some mistakes. But I was the only person in the room that even noticed.

There are things we need to rehearse, or learn to a certain degree of expertise, before we’re ready to share our newfound skill with the rest of the world. Flying a plane would be at the top of the list, along with wrestling alligators, performing a high-wire act, and defusing live bombs. Any one of those could really mess up your day if you aren’t up to the task.

But most other things in life are a bit more forgiving. Yet we still let the fear of being slightly imperfect keep us from taking the first step toward achieving our goals. As a teenage boy, I was hesitant to ask girls out. Not because they might not be interested in me, but because I was afraid of flubbing the words and ruining my one and only chance at happiness. Seriously???

And I see that scenario play out all the time. We know the things we need to do in order to achieve our goals, but we hold back waiting for the perfect opportunity, or the perfect conditions, or until we’ve rehearsed the perfect sales pitch. And, because nothing is ever perfect, we never even try.

Most times, the only thing standing in the way of our happiness is ourselves. We can achieve anything we want, but we have to first accept that the timing will never be just right, and we’ll have to work through some less than ideal conditions. From the back of the plane, the pilot’s expertise in navigating a thunderstorm is awesome. Only he knows how close we came to catastrophe.

It’s important to take time to learn new skills and practice what you’ve learned. But never let the fear of imperfection keep you from stepping into the ring. Any New Yorker will tell you the way to get to Carnegie Hall is practice, practice, practice. But none of that matters if you never take the stage. That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Awesome Dream! What’s Your Plan?

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

The week is almost half over. Depending on your perspective, that could be cause for celebration or trepidation. If you did your Monday resolutions and set some goals for the week, you may be facing the reality that you’ve fallen a little behind and now it’s time to catch up. Or you could just be working for the weekend, in which case your goal is getting closer simply by virtue of the calendar.

We all have goals. And this is the time of year when we tend to think about them a lot. That doesn’t mean we actually do anything about them, but it’s the thought that counts, right? Sure, if you’re doing something helpful for somebody else or giving them a gift. But if it’s a goal you hope to actually accomplish, it may take a little more than noble intent.

And that’s where a lot of us fall down. It’s not necessarily that we aren’t willing to do the work. We’re industrious and hard-working. We just sometimes lack the creativity to think outside the box. We want to accomplish a goal, but can’t we just do it by repeating the same thing we’ve been doing all these years?

Let me ask you a question. Let’s say one of your goals is to take your family on a Hawaiian vacation. You say yes, your spouse says yes, everybody says yes. Except the bank. And sadly enough, that’s where most dreams die.

But let’s say your CEO made you a deal. “Give me an extra 7 hours a week for the next year. Break them up any way you want, but you have to give me an honest 7 hours a week. Do that for a year, and I’ll pay for your vacation. First class tickets, a resort hotel, all expenses paid.” Would you do it?

Absolutely! If you’d known it was that easy to get to Hawaii, you’d have done it years ago, right? You can ask your CEO to make that deal, but odds are it’s not going to happen. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee it.

So, why not put in those 7 hours a week doing something for yourself? That’s one hour a day. If you knew how to spend those 7 hours, you could pay for your own vacation at the end of a year. And next year, you could go back and do it again. Except this time, instead of just sightseeing and lounging around on the beach, maybe you could be looking at real estate.

All too often, we don’t even try because we aren’t willing to spend a little time figuring out how we could actually do it. We know it’ll take work, and work is something we do all day anyway. An extra hour is no big deal. But what kind of work? What can we do that won’t require a huge investment in money or time, but can really make a difference?

And we think about that as we sit in front of the TV wishing we knew how to get to Hawaii. After a day or two, the dream begins to fade and we’re right back where we started. If you’re lucky, maybe there’s a show on TV where you can watch other people sitting on that beach as they contemplate a few real estate deals. I guess they already put in their 7 hours.

Having a dream is the first step. Translating that dream into a goal is next, because until we quantify that dream and give it a timeline, it’s just wishful thinking. But, even with a goal, nothing can really happen unless we have a plan and put that plan into action.

If your goal for this week was to lose two pounds, you probably gave some thought as to how you could do it. Exercise a little, cut out sugary drinks, yogurt smoothies for breakfast, and skip the afternoon snacks. That may be enough to get the job done. Either way, it’s a plan. You can try it for a few weeks, see how it’s working, and make adjustments from there.

Getting to Hawaii is no different. You just need a plan. And sometimes, that means keeping your eyes open to possibilities you never thought of. It means turning off the TV long enough to focus on ways to make it happen. And it means you may have to do something you’re not already doing, because what you’ve done so far hasn’t worked. If it had, you’d be dreaming of something better.

There’s not much you can’t accomplish in this world if you have a dream, a goal, and a plan. All it takes is an open mind, belief in yourself, and a little imagination. The rest is just work.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Normal is Good – But You Can’t Stay Here Forever

Most of us spend our lives doing pretty much the same thing day after day, to the point that it just becomes routine. And if anything comes along to upset that routine, we tolerate it for the time being … and in the case of fun things like holidays or vacations, we really enjoy it … but in the end, we’re just happy to get back to that routine.

I’ve often wondered why we’re always in such a hurry to get back to normal, especially when “normal” is usually something less than what we would like it to be. That’s not to say we’re unhappy with our everyday life, or at least I hope not. But there’s a difference between being happy and wanting something more.

No matter how well things are going, there are things we’d all like to make a little better – a relationship we’d like to improve, a new skill we want to learn, a stronger family, a newer car, whatever. The day we stop wanting these things is the day we stop trying. And when we stop trying, we begin to lose what we had.

Throughout life, we’re constantly moving. Nobody wants to stagnate. And thankfully, that’s just not possible, even in nature. When a body of water isn’t moving, we say it’s stagnant. But the truth is, it’s just sitting there getting more repulsive by the day. Moss and bacteria continue to grow, the smell gets worse, until one day it becomes so consumed with the slime that it ceases to exist.

We’re pretty much the same. Every day, we’re changing. We face new challenges, we adapt to new situations, we tackle new opportunities. Avoiding those changes doesn’t mean we cease to grow. It just means we grow in the wrong direction. We start backsliding until we hit a point of critical mass, where we either have to start moving forward or just cease to exist.

That doesn’t mean we die. It just means we stop living. There’s a huge difference. Because to live is to grow and thrive, to face those challenges and tackle new opportunities. And, because we’re not insects, there has to be an element of happiness along the way. But happiness alone doesn’t mean we’re growing. It just means we’re enjoying that temporary situation in which we live today.

Notice I said temporary – because no matter where you are in life, it’s never permanent. You can enjoy it or lament it today, but tomorrow it will change. The change may not be anything dramatic. In fact, you may not even notice it on a day to day basis. But, over time, it will become more and more distinct.

Hopefully most of those changes are for the better. I’ve seen people go both ways. And, after a while, that becomes their new “normal.” Not only the situation, but the general trend. Newton taught us that a body in motion tends to remain in motion. And we’re no different. If we start sliding backward, we generally continue in that direction until something changes.

That’s why it’s important to be continually moving forward. It’s okay to enjoy “normal” as long as we don’t hang around too long. Sooner or later, we’ll wear out our welcome and be forced to move again. And here’s the thing – it’s just as easy (and likely) to move back as it is to move forward. And vice-versa.

If we never allow ourselves to come to a complete standstill, odds are we’ll keep moving in the same direction. So, make sure you’re moving forward. Enjoy what you’ve worked for, make the most of your current situation, and do your best to be happy. But don’t let that sense of contentment trick you into thinking you’ve reached the ultimate destination. It’s still out there, waiting to be found.

Change is inevitable, and as long as we continue to draw air into our lungs, we’re never really sitting still. Make sure you’re moving in the direction you want and, if not, don’t just hit the brakes. Do a Hollywood-style screeching tire turnaround and start moving the other way.

Normal may feel comfortable. It may even fool us into a sense of complete satisfaction. But unless we’re willing to step beyond normal, we’ll never know how much better things can be.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Checked Your Belt Lately?

I had to buy a new belt yesterday. Normally, that wouldn’t be worthy of mention, but in this case, it wasn’t to make a fashion statement or even because the old one was just worn out. It broke. As I was putting it on, tugging against one side to embed the waistband of my pants deep into my belly, the largest metal piece of the buckle broke. Guess it had enough.

It was only a matter of time. When you take something that’s only meant to hold your pants up and put enough force on it to lift a railroad car, sooner or later it’ll snap. And that’s about what it takes to keep these pants up. I think maybe the gods are trying to tell me something.

You see, I carry all of my weight in my belly. According to health experts, that’s not a good thing. And because of that, I have two choices – I can wear my pants lower than a teenage boy on date night or wear my belt so tight it cuts off my spleen. Because, once my pants slip down past the middle of my belly, the laws of gravity take over. It’s really embarrassing in church.

So, I combined my trip to Belts R Us and stopped by the gym on the way home. Between lower back issues and that pesky brain surgery, it’s been a few months. And it shows. But I was a good boy and waited till the doc gave me the okay. He said to start easy, which isn’t a problem for me. Truly, I think he’s afraid of all that pressure from my midsection pushing against my brain.

Weight loss is never an easy thing, especially when you get to this age and you’ve been carrying it around for thirty years. I read an article a few years ago that said, once your body builds fat cells, they never go away. You can empty them out, but like politicians and the IRS, they’re always holding their hand out for more.

It doesn’t help that we’ve seen these reality shows where people lose up to 100 pounds in a few months. And it sets a very unrealistic expectation that, if you do things right, rapid weight loss is the natural result. Also, for the duration of the contest, these people spend their lives under the constant supervision of doctors and nutritionists, exercising several hours a day.

Even then, according to a study reported in the New York times, within a couple of years the overwhelming majority of contestants gained back most, if not all, the weight they had lost. In fact, some weighed even more. Care to guess why the show is off the air? Maybe it’s because they didn’t want to face a ten-year reunion show.

I feel for anybody who’s trying to lose weight. It’s hard, and we live in a world that is increasingly detrimental to those of us with the fat gene. First of all, finding a healthy meal, even at home, is getting harder by the day. Go out, and all bets are off. More often than not, one plate of restaurant food contains a whole day’s worth of fat and calories, with little or no nutritional value.

And, to reward us for our weakness, we have clothing stores and the airline industry. Even if you can find a pair of pants big enough, there’s no way you can squeeze them into the coach seat on an airliner. And they won’t upgrade you to first class just because you’re fat. The best they’ll do is hand you a seat belt extension in full view of all the other passengers to humiliate you even more.

Okay, we’ve had some fun here, but the reality is, obesity is a huge (no pun intended) problem in this country. Beyond broken belts and embarrassing moments, it’s slowly becoming a leading cause of premature death. And we can’t count on corporate America to make it any better. After all, the fatter we are, the more belts they can sell.

We’ve talked before about diets and weight loss, and there are no easy answers. But I believe if you talk to your doctor, get some exercise, and follow a sensible diet that consists of healthy alternatives, it’s not that hard. It’s all about taking in fewer calories, getting optimal value from those calories, and increasing our metabolism through both nutrition and activity.

Many of us will struggle with weight the rest of our lives. But, like any struggle, it’s possible to maintain the upper hand. We just have to be sensible, set realistic goals, and find something we can live with for the long haul. Slow and steady wins the race. Seems I’ve heard that somewhere before.

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

Stuck in a Rut? Ribet!

I’d like to begin today’s message with a parable about finding the strength to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. We all find ourselves in situations from time to time that we’d desperately like to change, but sometimes the motivation just isn’t quite there. Until life throws a knuckle ball that we have no choice but to hit.

A frog was hopping down a dirt road, happy as a lark and full of life. After a while, he came upon the sound of a toad crying for help. The toad was stuck at the bottom of a deep rut and couldn’t get out. He’d climbed and jumped all night but kept falling back down to the bottom. His situation seemed hopeless, and there was little the smaller frog could do but go try to find some help.

An hour later, unable to find any way to help his friend, the frog sat beside the road to think. A few minutes later he heard a familiar sound and, to his amazement, along came the toad. “That rut was too deep!” the frog exclaimed. “How on earth did you ever get out?” The toad simply replied, “There was a truck coming … I didn’t have a choice.”

Sometimes, it’s not enough to want something. We can dream about it, plan for it, set goals, and spring into action, only to fall right back to where we started. After a while, we begin to think maybe we just set our goals a little too high. Maybe this is beyond our capabilities. Besides, this rut isn’t so bad after all.

This is true in many areas of life, but especially when it comes to finances. No matter where we are on that mountain, most of us want to climb a little higher. But that takes work, and right now there are just too many other things we need to do. Sound familiar?

More often than not, time really is on our side. The bills are being paid, there’s food on the table, and maybe even a little left over for savings and vacations. What’s the rush? Then the ground begins to vibrate, and you hear an unwelcome sound headed your way, getting louder by the second. Time is no longer a luxury. You have to do something now, or just lay there and await the inevitable.

Thankfully, for most of us, it’s not really a truck headed our way. Sometimes it’s a serious health issue that won’t be covered by insurance. Or maybe you go into work one day to find a box sitting next to your desk as the boss says, “It’s not personal – just business.” Or you get a letter from the bank giving you ten days to pay up or move. But at this point, ten days just isn’t enough.

It all comes down to a pretty simple concept – dig the well before you get thirsty. Things happen that we never planned on, and emergencies have no regard for the size of our bank account. They’ll take it all, and then some. And nobody else cares, as long as they get paid. Your emergencies aren’t their problem. You figure it out.

If you suddenly found yourself in that rut with a truck bearing down, you’d find the strength to get out of the way. We all do. The key is to find that strength now, before you need it, and get out of that rut before the truck ever hits the road. Dig the well before you get thirsty.

Digging a well takes work. It’s not convenient, and a lot of people may even question why, especially when there’s a faucet on your kitchen sink. “You don’t need this! You’re comfortable! Let’s go grab a beer!” But when that day comes that you turn on the faucet and nothing happens, you’ll be glad you put in the effort. And you’ll meet friends you never knew you had, but that’s a different story.

Find that sense of urgency now, before life does it for you. Life will still throw some knuckle balls, and you may already be sitting on two strikes. The question is, will you be ready for it? Will you simply reach into your bank of resources and handle the problem, or let the problem handle you?

If there’s something you could do in the face of an emergency, what are you waiting for? Do it now. Then, when those emergencies arise, you can focus on the real issue instead of the fallout.

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

One Degree at a Time

Mark Twain once said everybody always complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. I guess it’s good that we can’t actually do anything about it, because that would just give us all one more thing to fight over. And I’m pretty sure I’d never live long enough to get my turn at the thermostat. If I did, I’d set it to 80 and break it.

My wife and I have a running feud over the inside temperature of our house. Well, it’s more like a disagreement. Okay, it’s a game of cat & mouse. She keeps turning it down, then I sneak down the hallway to turn it back up. We’ve done this several times a day for the past five years. We both think the other won’t notice, or maybe we just hope we’ll get at least an hour or two of relative comfort.

And, are you ready for this? Our difference in the definition of “acceptable” is one degree. One. Singular. You can’t even measure it in degrees, because there’s only one of them. Seriously? In fairness, that’s just the temperature where we’ve agreed not to compromise. She would be happy with five degrees colder, and I’d be happy on a tropical beach.

Now, there’s no way our bodies can tell the difference between 68 and 69 degrees. But that’s where we’ve drawn the line. At this point, it’s more of a moral victory than anything really meaningful. Yet, we play the game. Day after day, year after year. I can’t wait to see what we’ll be like in our eighties.

I guess this is a (somewhat) amusing way of illustrating a more important point. It’s natural to want to live in our comfort zone and, for most of us, stepping outside that comfort zone is a big deal. Even if it’s only by one degree. We know where life feels good, and that’s where we want to stay.

But all too often, what we perceive as our comfort zone really isn’t that comfortable at all. We just live our lives in a state of compromise and acceptance, never really trying to make it any better. Because, in the very act of making it better, we have to abandon what we’ve come to know and take a chance on breaking the thermostat completely.

And, it’s that risk that keeps most of us right where we are. That, and a feeling of relative comfort. Sure, you’d like to make more money, or live in a bigger house, or get a better job, or break away from a toxic relationship. But that means stepping away from what you’ve come to know and into the unknown. It means change, and change isn’t something we always handle very well.

So, we sit right where we are, in a state of relative discomfort, simply because it’s easier than making the changes that would increase our level of comfort. After a while, we even embrace that level of discomfort, because it’s what we know. This is the very reason the vast majority of lottery winners are bankrupt within a few years. The change is just too sudden.

But, here’s the thing. The temperature in our house didn’t suddenly change one day from 75 degrees to 68. It was a slow progression – a trick wives learn in bridal school where they teach them to conquer the household one degree at a time. And husbands, gullible as we are, don’t even notice it until there are icicles on the bathroom mirror. By then, we’ve been had.

The same is true of changes in your life. The big bang approach usually doesn’t work, because it’s too much change too fast. Why do you think all those New Year’s resolutions fail? But if we approach change a little at a time and give ourselves a little time to get used to the change, it adjusts our comfort zone and becomes another normal part of our day.

Your comfort zone is like a rubber band. It can sit there for years, never doing anything besides just existing and getting moved from one place to another. But in order to be of any value at all, it has to be stretched. And, the reality is, someday you’ll stretch it too far and it’ll break. So, you reach into the drawer and get a new one that you can stretch even further.

One degree at a time. It may not fix the ongoing battle over the temperature in our home, but it can make a huge difference in your quality of life if you’ll just let go of that one degree that’s holding you back. You can’t find a new comfort zone by resting comfortably in the one you’ve got. Step outside and explore. You never know what you may find.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Won’t Do What???

Have you ever awakened in the morning with a song going through your head – a song you haven’t heard in months or maybe even years, and one you may not even like? Of course, you have. It happens to all of us. We have no idea why that song popped into our head and, try as we might, we can’t shake it until something else comes along to take its place.

If you enjoy any of the music from the early 90s, you’re probably familiar with these lyrics: “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.” The song was first recorded in 1993 by Michael Aday, better known to most of us as Meat Loaf, and it reached the #1 spot on the charts in 28 countries.

That’s the song I woke up with this morning, and it’s still playing through my head. Thankfully, this is one I really liked. Yesterday I woke up to Janis Joplin. I’m sure for some of you, that would have been a great way to start the day. I’m pretty sure it was my brain’s way of punishing me for going to bed so late.

So, why am I writing about that this morning? Well, two reasons. First, it’s a vivid reminder of the fact that our brain can retain just about anything for a long, long time, and it can bring it back to the surface when we least expect it. Good things and bad, so be careful what goes in.

But in the context of motivation and success, I think it raises a pretty important point. We all want the best life has to offer, but we tend to draw a lot of lines when it comes time to actually do something about it. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We should have limits, especially when it comes to something that is completely against our values.

Still, that leaves a lot on the table. We all have things we want, dreams that we can describe in vivid detail. And, while we’re in the dream mode, our imagination can become the world’s best add-on salesman. “You want the tour package to go with that? How about a luxury suite? And you wouldn’t want to travel this far in a coach seat … we’re talking first class, right?” And your brain says, “YES!!!”

Okay, so what happens when it’s time to start working toward that dream? That’s when the song starts playing: “I would do anything for (insert your favorite dream here) … but I won’t do THAT.” Really? A moment ago, you were adding options like a kid at the ice cream buffet. No extravagance is too great. After all, you deserve this. You’ve earned it!

“But you mean I actually have to work for it???” The list of options hits the floor and is quickly replaced by an even bigger list of limits. Okay, you’ll work for it. Maybe even a little extra. As long as it’s not too much extra effort, and it doesn’t cut into bowling night. And it can’t be anything that involves sales or talking to strangers. After all, you still have a little pride!

Try something, just for fun. At the top of a sheet of paper, write down one of your biggest dreams. Don’t hold back – let’s go for the gold. Immediately below that, write down all the reasons you want this. Then, draw a line across the page and begin listing all the things you’re not willing to do to get it. You can leave off the illegal and immoral things – you won’t need them.

If you’re being completely honest, you can describe your dream and all the reasons you want it in the top half of the page. But you’ll probably need several sheets of paper to finish the list of things you won’t do to get it. “I would do anything for (top of the page), but I won’t do that (the rest).” It’s a real eye-opener.

In talking with people about their dreams, I find this to be the case more often than not. The “I won’t do that” list can be pretty long and, after a while, even they begin to realize they’re not even describing personal values or hard limits. It’s just a convenient list of excuses. “I could have had that if I wanted it, but I wasn’t willing to do THAT.”

If your dreams are important enough, you’ll find a way. It’s there – you just have to set aside your inhibitions (and maybe even a little pride) and make it happen. Make excuses or make memories. That’s the bottom line. Take an eraser to your “I won’t do that” list and you’ll open a world of possibilities. From there, all you have to do is pick one and let the magic begin.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved