Luck Isn’t Something You Trip Over

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

There’s an old tradition in show business that says when a friend is getting ready to take the stage, you never say “good luck.” Somebody, at some point in time, fell flat on their face after being the recipient of such a prayer, and decided it must be because the gods of karma turned the blessing against them. There’s no other logical explanation – certainly not a lack of talent or preparation.

So, when you want to wish your friend a strong performance, you give the karma gods something else to consider. “Break a leg!” That’s the kindest thing somebody can say as you’re taking the stage. Unless you’re as clumsy as I am. I’d rather take my chances with good luck.

One night my ankle rolled as I was taking the stage and I took a nosedive in front of a sold-out crowd. The audience thought it was part of the show. And in complete honesty, it probably got a bigger laugh than any of my jokes that night. I stood up, took the microphone, and nodding to an imaginary person backstage said, “Break a leg … thanks jackass!”

No, it wasn’t an intentional part of the show. The ligaments in my left ankle are about as strong as a politician’s conscience. It’s an old war injury. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Never mind that the country wasn’t technically at war at the time. It happened on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean when I was in the Navy. That’s all you need to know.

Bad luck? Maybe. The doctor said I would have been better off if my ankle had broken, but that’s not the way it turned out. And, since that time, I’ve learned to deal with the fact that it’ll clock out on an unauthorized break any time it feels like it. At that point, the best I can do is try to steer myself away from anything hot or sharp. Falling down is a foregone conclusion.

When somebody we know has several bad things happen in a row, we say they’ve had a run of bad luck. And when everything they touch turns to gold, we attribute that to luck as well. “Some people just have all the luck.” Yeah. Especially people who do things like, I don’t know … work, keep their eyes open to opportunities, and take a few calculated risks along the way.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you know the next sentence by heart. Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparedness. Delivering a strong performance onstage requires two things – an audience that wants to be entertained, and a performer who’s ready to deliver. And the same is true in everything we do. Opportunity and preparation. Put the two together and good things happen.

But, like any mathematical formula, the order of operations makes a world of difference in the result. If you wait for opportunity to come knocking and then try to get onboard with the preparation side of the equation, it’ll be gone before you know it. Like the six-o’clock bus, opportunity doesn’t wait for anyone. There are too many others already waiting for it to come along.

Preparation has to come first. You have to get dressed before you go to the bus stop and wait for something to come along. That habit can keep you out of jail, too. Or so I’m told. Opportunity pretty much demands that you’re ready for it. And while you’re standing on the curb in your bathrobe, the people who got dressed first are on their way to earning a paycheck. That’s just how it works.

Besides, unless you’re prepared to make the most of an opportunity, you probably wouldn’t recognize it anyway. Oh, you may see it. But you won’t be able to truly appreciate it. You’ll say things like, “That’ll never work. I have a cousin who tried that once and he’s still broke. I’ll just wait for a prettier bus to come along.” Well, guess what? There is no prettier bus coming. Get onboard or be left behind.

Opportunity knocks, but it doesn’t knock the door down. You have to leave the door open just a crack and be ready to jump on the right opportunity when it comes. Be picky, but not so picky that you spend your life waiting for a prettier bus. Sometimes, a worn-out pair of sneakers fits better than the flashy new pair. But you’ll never know unless you put your feet in and lace them up.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Wait For Luck – Make Your Own

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

A few days ago, I stumbled across a video montage of people who were involved in close calls that almost resulted in disaster. There was the guy walking down the street and a speeding car slid into a light pole inches away. Another person stumbled off a train platform and was pulled to safety with less than a second to spare. You know, the kind of videos that make you go, “WOW!”

Thankfully, luck was on the side of each of these people and they lived to tell the story of what could have been their final moment. Some would say they were the beneficiary of divine intervention, that it just wasn’t their time. I won’t argue either way, except to say something or someone was there to save them from certain death. And that, my friends, is the textbook definition of luck.

We tend to attribute lots of things to luck. One person just seems to catch all the lucky breaks, and another attracts nothing but bad luck. Casinos invite you to try your hand with Lady Luck. Game operators at the carnival call out, “Do you feel lucky today?” And what about the lottery, the ultimate test of luck? You put down a few dollars and wait for random numbers to pop up.

And then there’s the person who started out working alongside you in an entry-level position, but through several promotions and pay raises, now enjoys an office instead of a cubicle, tropical vacations instead of tent camping, and a home on “that” side of town. Meanwhile, you’re still struggling to pay the bills. Yes, some people seem to get all the luck.

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but luck has nothing to do with it. Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparedness. It’s the result of recognizing an opportunity and being in a position to capitalize on it. That may mean learning new skills, taking a few classes, or simply going out of your way to meet the right people. But without that preparation, luck will simply pass you by.

Sure, we’ve all seen cases where somebody got a promotion simply because of their last name. The boss’ kids will always have some level of preference when it comes to promotions. But, in most cases, they have to be up to the task, or they’ll get passed by. Business owners don’t achieve success by putting imbeciles in positions of leadership. If they do, they won’t be successful for long.

More often than not, if we’re really honest, we can look beneath the surface and see a pattern of preparation that puts one person in a position to succeed while others around them feel left out. Sure, we have names for the people who come in early, stay late, and always have the report on the boss’ desk early. But when opportunity comes along, who do you think will get the first shot?

Success isn’t a matter of luck. It comes to the person who can spot an opportunity and is prepared to capitalize on it. Winning the lottery is luck. It takes no skill, and no preparation other than buying a ticket. Ever wonder why nearly 70 percent of lottery winners are bankrupt in less than five years? There’s your answer. Success takes a little more effort.

I talk a lot about dreams and goals, and hopefully you think about those things just as much. And make no mistake, the opportunities are there. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow. But unless you’re prepared to capitalize on those opportunities, they’ll move on to somebody who is. And preparation begins with an open mind.

How many times have you seen somebody achieve incredible success in the most unlikely venture? Odds are, they weren’t the first to be exposed to the idea or opportunity. But they approached it with an open mind and put in the effort while others scoffed at their ambitions or simply looked away without a second thought. Was it luck? Or was there a little more to it?

For any goal you may have, or any level of success you wish to achieve, the opportunity is there. Find that opportunity and you’re halfway there. Maybe you’re ready today, maybe not. But once you know how to succeed, it’s easy to put the remaining pieces in place. Don’t rely on luck. Success comes to those who make their own luck. It’s there waiting for you. What happens next is up to you.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

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

Today will be a little out of the ordinary for me. My company is sponsoring a food drive, and I’ve been given the opportunity to help out. It’s something that’s badly needed in our area, especially with the devastation from tornadoes a few short months ago. Thousands were left without a home, or without the means to put a hot meal on the table. It’s nice to be able to give something to those in need.

Most of us never think we’ll find ourselves in a similar situation. We go to work every day, we bring home a paycheck, pay the bills, and life goes on. If something out of the ordinary comes along, we take a little out of savings or use a credit card to handle the emergency. It’s a place of comfort – of knowing we can handle pretty much anything that comes up. As long as it’s not too big.

Then one night, as we’re putting the kids to bed and making our final rounds through the house, sirens go off. Before we can even get to the TV to see what’s going on, alerts blast through on every cell phone in the house. “Multiple tornadoes on the ground – seek shelter immediately!”

At that point, it doesn’t matter how much money you make or how much is sitting in the bank. Your house is as much a target as anything else in town, and all you can do is hunker down and pray. For most of us, it was just an inconvenience – we sat in the basement until it was over. But others huddled together as they listened to the sound of their home being ripped apart.

It’s at that moment that you realize you don’t have it all under control. Things happen that none of us count on, and we’re left to deal with the aftermath. Yes, the homes will be rebuilt. But some won’t be finished until next year. Meanwhile, the families who lived there have been relegated to apartments and hotel rooms in neighboring communities. And they may never be able to replace some of the things they lost.

That’s the reality of life. It’s easy to get caught up in the pride of being able to earn a living and take care of our own, to relish in the comfort of a career that pays the bills, and to celebrate a few promotions along the way. And then in a moment, along comes something we can’t control, and we find ourselves fighting for our very survival. None of that other stuff even matters.

Every one of us, no matter what our station in life, is one or two strokes of bad luck away from needing a little help. The help we need may be related to health, finances, a place to live, a warm meal, a compassionate friend, or any of a hundred other things. And in that moment, we find ourselves relying on the kindness of others.

That stroke of bad luck may come with the thunder of a tornado, or with the silence of a serious illness. It may be the loss of a home, or the loss of a job. And it may be nothing more than the need to change our daily routine, to give up that cushy career, so we can stay home and take care of someone who desperately needs our help. The need may be evident, but the circumstances aren’t always so obvious.

That’s why it’s important that we hold back judgment and simply help where we can. My job today will be to register those arriving for food. Some will be on foot, and others will be in cars I can’t afford. Some will be dressed in shabby clothing, and others will look like they’re on their way to a corporate function. And it’s possible I may see some familiar faces in the crowd. You just never know.

Mom always used to tell us that when you see somebody in need, instead of trying to judge their circumstances or how they may have gotten there, we should just say a short prayer – there, but for the grace of God, go I.

By the end of the day, my lower back will be ruined. I’ll have work to make up on Monday that I didn’t get to do today, and I’ll probably spend the weekend on a heating pad. But when the last bag of food has been distributed, I’ll still be able to enjoy a home-cooked meal and the comfort of my own bed. Not because I’ve done anything special to deserve it. But because, as of this moment, none of it has been taken away.

There’s something to be said for counting our blessings. And there’s an even greater blessing in being able to help someone in need. Tomorrow, it could be any one of us. Appreciate the things you’ve worked for and take care of what you’ve got. Just keep it in perspective and remember that, while we may be able to control some things, others are simply a matter of grace.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Adversity Builds the Skills That Make Success Possible

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

I woke up to a pretty intense thunderstorm this morning. It was less than an hour earlier than I’d normally get up, which is always a challenge because there’s that part of you that says just go ahead and get up and the other part that desperately wants that final little bit of sleep. I chose the latter.

I’m about to utter some words that most people who know me almost never hear – we needed the rain. We don’t need lightning to go with it, especially as dry as everything has been. But the grass is turning brown in places that should be green, and I’m too cheap to water my lawn. I did spray for weeds a few weeks ago, which could explain all the brown spots. Let’s just say it wasn’t all grass.

Rain can be a blessing. We need it to sustain life, but too much can be as bad as none at all. We had enough this spring to last an entire year, or so you would think. A lot of the farmers were never able to plant their crops because the fields were too wet. And I remember driving across the country at the end of March and seeing houses almost completely underwater. That’s a sight you never forget.

On the other hand, there are places in the world where the water supply has just about completely dried up, and they would be thrilled to put up with a little flooding if it meant they’d have water to drink and plants growing in their fields.

It seems to be that way with most things in life. We desperately want good things in life, but too much can be detrimental to our long-term goals. Take chocolate, for instance. I won’t pick on you ladies, because I love chocolate. It just doesn’t love me. Or, should I say, it doesn’t care what the bathroom scale or my doctor have to say. A little bit can go a long way.

When things are going bad, a stroke of good luck could set us on the path to success. And it’s hard to comprehend sometimes, but too much good luck isn’t necessarily a great thing. If things always went your way, you’d quickly lose the skill of working through the problems other people face. And believe me, your day will come. Wouldn’t it be better to stay up on those skills along the way?

Let’s face it, if nothing ever went wrong, you might not even know it when something did. Recognition is the first step in solving a problem. Then comes troubleshooting – figuring out what needs to be fixed. Then you have to know how to fix whatever is broken, and finally, you have to know when it’s fixed good enough to continue on.

A little adversity keeps things interesting and helps us build the skills necessary to reach the next level. When I was a kid, one of the worst things that could happen was a flat tire on my bicycle. No riding until Dad could fix it. But then one day he showed me how, and flat tires became a nuisance instead of a show-stopper. And somewhere along the way, I learned to work on cars. Go figure.

We all need a little adversity. We also need some good fortune as well. But that doesn’t mean we have to sit back and wait for Lady Luck to throw something our way. We can influence things in our favor. Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparedness. If we can’t spot an opportunity or don’t know how to capitalize on it, luck will just move on to somebody better prepared.

Winning the lottery is a matter of having the right ticket in your hand when the right numbers come up. The odds are astronomical. But even at that, you have to buy a ticket. Now, I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a bunch of lottery tickets. That money could be better utilized in investments or starting a business. The point is, luck doesn’t just fall on your head. You have to at least try.

And that’s what happens when things aren’t exactly as we’d like them to be. We identify the problem, troubleshoot it, take steps to fix it, and move on. And you know what happens next? You’ll encounter the next challenge. Only now, because of the adversity you just worked through, you’re better equipped to keep going, higher and higher until you reach your goal.

Life is a series of challenges to be met and overcome. Some days the sun will shine and other days it’ll rain. Sometimes it’ll rain too much. But in working through each of life’s challenges, we learn to work through the next one. And along the way, we develop an even greater appreciation for what we’ve worked so hard to build. That alone is worth a little extra rain, don’t you think?

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved