If Simple Works, Let It Work

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

When you have a steady stream of traffic, traffic lights are the best way to create havoc. Partly because stopped cars move a lot more slowly than moving cars, and partly because the average driver hasn’t yet figured out the concept of red and green lights. And forget about yellow lights. Have you ever watched a figure-8 race? Let me paint a picture. It’s a sideways game of chicken.

Every now and then, traffic engineers come up with innovative ways to keep traffic moving, or at least to minimize the number of cars backed up onto the freeway because the lights are timed to funnel more traffic into McDonalds. Hey, you’ve gotta have priorities.

One of the more effective approaches I’ve seen is steeply angled traffic patterns that allow cars to merge from the exit ramp onto the intersecting roadway without slowing down. Instead of riding the brake through that sharp left turn off the exit ramp, you floor it and race through at something shy of light speed. All they need now is bumpers to keep you in your own lane.

Today I saw Louisiana’s attempt at genius. Okay, I sat in it for ten minutes as a semi driver at the front of the line worked up the courage to give it a try. Ever seen a roundabout? They suck in the middle of town where everybody’s driving 10 mph anyway. But it takes a special kind of imbecile to put one at the bottom of an exit ramp. We’re talking seriously gifted.

Getting into a roundabout is bad enough. You have to wait for an opening that’s not there, and the second you hit the gas you have to cross both lanes to get into the middle. Unless you’re taking the first exit to the right, in which case you could have avoided the whole thing by just driving across the sidewalk. People will move. Trust me.

Once you get into the middle, the real fun begins. At each entry point (there are at least four), somebody will be joining the fun from your right. You know, in the lane you need to jump into at the last second so you can get off the merry-go-round. Unless you’re willing to knock somebody out of your way, you could be stuck in the middle for days.

Now, take that same roundabout and add in a “special” twist. I use that word freely, with full knowledge of the many ways it may be interpreted. So, you’re in the roundabout and you need to turn right? No problem. At each of the four points, you can turn right from whichever lane you’re in. As long as nobody crosses a painted line, you’re good. What could possibly go wrong?

Okay, it goes without saying that I won’t be taking that exit again any time soon. Once was enough. I’m sure some traffic engineer is still sitting in the corner laughing about that one. For all I know, he got a raise. In fact, I bet he was promoted to school zones and railroad crossings. I’ve seen a few of those that could use some work.

So, how does any of this fit into the topic of motivational writing? It doesn’t. Some of these are just for me. But while you’re driving that endless circle in the middle of the roundabout, it gives you plenty of time to think about problem-solving, and the difference between ingenuity and stupidity. It also makes you realize your car will eventually get scratched anyway.

Sometimes, the simplest things are the most effective. You know, like traffic lights. It’s been more than a century since the first one was installed in Cleveland, and last time I checked they move a lot of cars through there every day. Are there more glamorous ways to control traffic? Sure. But sometimes, the tried and true is the best approach.

In my business, we teach people to duplicate what others are doing. It’s a business plan that’s been around for more than 60 years, and it still works today for one basic reason – it’s simple. That doesn’t mean it’s easy … just that it’s not rocket science. And every time somebody tries to improve on it, they always end up back where they started. Because simple works.

There will be times when somebody shows you how to do something, and your first thought is “There has to be a better way!” Maybe. The quest for a better way has led to millions of innovative improvements. But a round wheel still rolls better than a wheel of any other shape. Food for thought.

There’s nothing wrong with looking for a better way. But don’t change things just for the sake of change. Sometimes the old way is still the best way. Get good at that and you may not need anything better.

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

Success Rewards Consistent Effort

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

You know how you go to the grocery store just to pick up that special flavor of ice cream, only to find they’re sold out? That happens a lot at my local store. They’ll have forty-two varieties of cheese puffs, but not the brand I want.  Any more, I just take my shopping list to the Customer Service desk and tell them, “Here’s a bunch of stuff you don’t have. Trust me.”

It’s pretty much the same when you head south to escape the cold and the cold follows you south. Sure, it’s not snowing, but nighttime temperatures have been below freezing almost every day, and the furnace needs an all-night babysitter. Every morning the windows are iced over – on the inside. Manufacturing defect, they say. I have another name for it.

There are just times in your life when you expect things to be a certain way, and anything less is unacceptable. Not disappointing, because that suggests that maybe you expected too much to begin with. You know, like it’s your fault. Unacceptable means somebody, or something else is completely to blame. You got the shaft, and karma isn’t the least bit sorry about it.

Karma … there’s a word we use a lot. It usually means somebody is about to have a bad day. It’s a form of retribution for something we’ve done to somebody else, and we can’t even blame them when it happens, because they had nothing to do with it. You know, other than praying for karma to teach us a lesson. Try proving that one in court.

But karma sometimes works the other way around. Do nice things for people enough times in your life, and somehow nice things will come your way. Help enough other people to succeed, and success smiles on you. Put in a little extra effort every day on the job, and eventually the right people will notice. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it’ll happen.

Karma, if you break it down to basic terms, simply means what goes around comes around. Good things happen to good people. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. You reap what you sow. I could probably quote a few other tidbits of karmic wisdom, but you get the point. Life’s rewards are usually proportional to the effort we put in. Usually.

That doesn’t mean it you’re a good person, the store will always have your favorite kind of ice cream, or that the sun will break through every cloud just because you deserve it. Nice people suffer heartache and disappointment like anybody else. And just because a person is having a run of bad luck, that doesn’t mean they deserve it.

But success generally comes to those who pursue it the most. That doesn’t mean they work harder or faster, or that they invest more money than the rest of us. It simply means they work with a level of consistent determination that will not be denied. Go to one store, and they may not have the ice cream you want. Go to enough stores, and somebody is bound to have it.

It’s the law of averages. If you do the right thing enough times, sooner or later it’ll pay off. How many times? Well, unless you can give a definitive answer to that question, you need to try at least a few more times. The answer is different for each of us, and for each different goal we pursue. Even with the weather, sooner or later it’ll turn nice. Even if you live in Alaska.

If you have a dream, or maybe even just a simple goal, you know what it takes to achieve it. You know the things you need to do. Sure, you can buy a lottery ticket and hope for the best, but odds are you’ll get there a lot faster if you consistently do the things that need to be done.

Success never comes fast enough when there’s something we want. And “law of averages” is the last thing you want to hear when you keep running into roadblocks. But, as a friend often says, nine out of ten things we try will never work, but that last one will make you rich.

Is ten times enough? Fifteen? Twenty? The only way you’ll answer that question is to keep trying. But if you stop after the first try, or the first store, or the first week at a southern destination, you’ll never know what may be waiting just around the bend. If the dream is worth having, then give it a fighting chance. You may be closer than you think. That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Who’s Keeping Track of Your List?

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

Well, another week is behind us. Almost. I guess there’s still a full day to go. I saw a meme on Facebook a while back that showed a disheartened face with the words, “When you’re ready to go home and the boss reminds you that you still have eight hours to go.” Still, it’s Friday. That’s like telling a kid there’s only a week left until Christmas.

Time drags, except when you’re on vacation. I’ve often wondered how that is for retired people. Several times I was talking to my dad and he’d ask, “Is today Saturday?” When you don’t have to work, you get to ask questions like that. The best I get is waking up on Thursday, thinking it’s Friday. “Yes!” turns to “Damn!” in three seconds flat.

Friday is a day of celebration, no doubt. It’s also the day when we start making a mental “to-do” list for next week. The first five or thirty-six items on the list are easy – just start with everything you didn’t get done this week. “Well, that one will have to wait. But I have to get it done Monday. No excuses!” Famous last words.

I still have an 8-foot mud flap in the RV that I was going to install before we left. But it was cold outside, and I need some additional hardware to install it. At our first campsite, I was going to rearrange all the storage bays. Six weeks later, that’s still on the list. My freelance assignment is overdue, I’ve run out of vitamins, and we still need to get an oil change. And the list goes on.

Okay, in my defense, I do have some valid excuses. We spent four weeks visiting Dad and then planning his funeral. We’ve been visiting relatives we don’t often see, I work during the day, and it’s been raining. For any day of this trip, I can tell you exactly why I didn’t get anything done. Can I just cross off a few for good intent?

Okay, some things truly will go away on their own. Ignore the oil change long enough, and you won’t have to worry about it anymore. Let the car payment slide, and you won’t have one much longer. Procrastinate on your tax returns and … sorry, that one doesn’t go away. But you get the point. Vanishing problems aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

On the other hand, there are some things that just aren’t as critical. If you can’t find time to weed the flower bed, nobody else will even notice. After six years of weeds, I learned my lesson. Don’t plant flowers. It takes a lot of time, you end up dirty and sore, and by mid-summer it’ll all be weeds anyway. So, just let the weeds grow. In fact, water them and they’ll die.

But, when time is running short, those are the tasks we always seem to do first. They may be personally rewarding, but at the end of the day all those other things we needed to do are still sitting there, waiting for a spot on next week’s list. Sometimes we need a little motivation. Run the clippers up the back of your head, and you’ll find time for that haircut. Trust me.

When my mother-in-law moved in, my wife’s sister knew that painting the inside of her closet would be low on my list of priorities. So, she slapped a wide patch of contrasting paint on the closet wall, then left the rest for me. Well, two can play that game. I think it’s about time she should paint her living room.

No, I wouldn’t do that to somebody else’s house. But sometimes, we do need that extra incentive to get things done. My business mentors have suggested getting an accountability partner. Somebody you trust enough to share your dreams, and who knows you well enough to call BS when you’re making excuses.

Share your goals. “By this day, I will (insert your favorite lie here).” Put it in writing, and then slip it into their pocket. Tell them to call you every week to see how you’re doing. You may be able to fake success on social media, but your accountability partner knows better. Sooner or later, you’ll either get on the ball or call it quits.

We have accountability partners on the job. We have them at home. And we have some we don’t even know in police cars and courtrooms. They all hold us to task, in one way or another. Find somebody who will do the same when it comes to your dreams, and you open a whole new world of opportunity.

Excuses make us feel better, but they don’t bring us any closer to our dreams. Make yourself accountable. Get things done. There will be plenty of time to rest when you’re finished.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Winter Blues? Time to Feed Your Dreams!

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

I was watching the news a few weeks ago, and they were talking about a rather odd challenge in south Florida. The local residents were being warned to watch overhead for iguanas falling out of the sky. Okay, out of trees, but when one of them hits you on the head, it doesn’t really matter where it started. You scream like a girl and run. Just me???

The problem is that iguanas are cold-blooded, and when outside temperatures get too cold, they go into a type of coma. Being tree-dwellers by nature, that’s where they go to get cold. And, not that I can speak from personal experience, but it’s a little hard to maintain a grip on tree limbs when you’re unconscious. Hence, the falling lizards.

Winter seems to have that effect on a lot of us. Okay, we’re warm-blooded so we don’t go into a coma. We just complain so much everybody wishes we would. Of all the things that can trigger a state of depression, weather ranks pretty high on the list. We may not fall out of trees, but we can certainly fall off our pedestal of nirvana. You have one of those, right?

Whether it’s too much heat, too much cold, too much rain, too much snow, or too much of whatever makes you unhappy at the moment, it gets old fast. Continual discomfort, of any kind, makes it a little hard to smile. Next thing you know, you’re biting the waiter’s head off for seating you under an air vent.

Depression affects us in a lot of ways. One of the more subtle symptoms is that it tends to wipe out our ability to dream. Oh, don’t get me wrong. People who are cold have no problem dreaming of someplace warm. But those dreams don’t usually involve exotic places like Tahiti. There’s a point where a heated barn looks good.

If you’ve ever seen Maslow’s Pyramid, it’s a pretty accurate depiction of the hierarchy of human needs. Down at the bottom you have basic survival. Take away oxygen, and nobody cares much about the stock market. Their needs immediately drop to the bottom of the pyramid. But as we climb out of that level, we find ourselves looking to increasingly self-serving interests.

Don’t take that one wrong. Self-serving, in this instance, doesn’t mean we don’t care about anybody around us. It just means we’re trying to enjoy a life that makes us feel worthy and fulfilled. And until we climb above all the lower-level minutiae that seems to consume our energy, we’ll never reach the top of the pyramid.

So, where does physical comfort fall in the hierarchy? Somewhere a little below our dreams. And if you buy into Maslow’s theory that we can never climb the pyramid until we resolve any issues at the foundational levels, it’s not hard to understand why we suffer what’s known as the winter blues. It’s not that we’re cold. It’s that we’re so cold nothing else matters.

Ask a person in the winter what they dream of, and they can probably tell you about a resort city somewhere in the tropics. But it’s not really a dream at that point – it’s a wish. Ask the same question in the springtime, when we’re not house-bound in the freezing cold, and they can get excited about it. Why? Because it feels a little more real.

Dreaming isn’t just letting our mind wander to faraway places and a life that’s somehow better than our own. That’s daydreaming. And while that’s a healthy escape from the stresses of the day, it’s not the kind of dreaming that leads to anything other than mindless thought. Dreaming – real dreaming that leads us to action, is a more deliberate process.

It’s not enough to just think about it. You have to visualize it. You have to see yourself in the dream, complete with all the sounds, tastes, and smells that let you know it’s real. Get pictures and put them where you’ll see them several times a day. Pick a place that goes with the dream. Got a picture of Tahiti? Put it on the wall next to the thermostat.

What kind of food and drinks would you enjoy in that tropical resort? You know, you can have them at home if you want. It’s legal. When I eat seafood, rum cake, or Key Lime pie, I’m not just thinking about the islands – I’m there. Can’t fake yourself out with food? Try some suntan lotion. Yes, indoors. In the winter. I dare you to smell that all day without thinking of the beach.

Nothing fights depression like dreams, but you have to feed your dreams to keep them alive. How you feed them is up to you – just do it. Don’t leave it to chance, and don’t wait for summer. Feed your dreams now, and you won’t be able to contain them later.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Plug Your Nose and Dig In!

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

In the movie Bad Boys, two high-action cops are chasing the bad guy down a runway in Miami as Marcus (Martin Lawrence) begins reciting the perpetrator’s rights.  “You have the right to remain silent – anything you say can and will be used against you …” Will Smith asks, “What are you doing?” Marcus, staring straight ahead, replies, “Just gettin’ it out the way.”

When I was young, Mom desperately wanted to get us to eat healthy foods. The problem for kids is that healthy foods generally taste like crap. Especially Brussels sprouts. We’d make faces, Mom would make threats, and eventually we’d compromise – just eat one. I’d dip mine in mashed potatoes to mask the flavor (it didn’t work) and swallow it whole. Anything to get it over with.

Even now, when my wife puts broccoli or cauliflower on my plate, I eat it first. That way I can enjoy every bite of the good stuff without ruining the savory goodness in my mouth with the pungent aroma of steamed vegetables. It’s simple. If you have to do something really unpleasant, get it out of the way as quickly as possible.

Or, as French writer Nicolas Chamfort once said, eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. That quote (often attributed to Mark Twain) has been enhanced over the years to suggest that, if you have to eat a bunch of frogs, you should eat the biggest one first. Uurrrp!

But the point is pretty clear – if you have to eat the frog anyway, get it over with and then you don’t have to dread it the rest of the day. Now, before I completely ruin your appetite, this isn’t about eating frogs (or Brussels sprouts). It’s about getting the unpleasant stuff out of the way so we can look forward to the good stuff. You know, like ice cream.

There are things I have to do every day at work that I’d gladly pay somebody else to do. Nothing as bad as eating a live frog, but just those tedious tasks that nobody really enjoys, and you wonder if it’s even adding any value at all. But the boss says it has to be done, so I get it done. Now. The earlier the better. Then I don’t have to think about it again until tomorrow.

In my own company, it’s pretty much the same. I have to contact a certain number of people every day if I want my business to grow. And I know that four out of five will tell me they’re just not interested. It’s my least favorite part of the business. I’d rather get another vasectomy. But the frog is sitting there, getting bigger by the day until I finally dig in and take that first unpleasant bite.

And you know what? Even after all those people give me a polite (or not-so-polite) “No,” I’m still breathing. In fact, I’m breathing a little easier because the worst thing they could say to me is over. I don’t have to dread it anymore. And I know the odds are increasingly in my favor that the next person I talk to will say yes.

It’s all about the law of averages. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Apply for enough jobs, and sooner or later you’ll score an interview. Score enough interviews, and sooner or later you’ll get a job. Do your job long enough, and sooner or later you’ll get really good at it. Even the parts you never really wanted to be good at.

But when you get good at the stuff nobody wants to do, two things happen. First, you don’t mind it so much. It’s a part of your day that you work through quickly and with little conflict. And once that’s behind you, you’re able to spend the rest of the day getting better at the stuff the boss really notices.

Unless you clean toilets for a living, your job likely involves a multitude of daily tasks that are a mix of mildly enjoyable to completely intolerable. And if toilets are your thing, clean the worst ones first. It won’t make your day go any faster, but at least it won’t smell quite as bad.

Dessert is the reward we get for eating the frog. If you have to eat it all anyway, get the hard part done first and save the best for last. You’ll be happier, and the rest of the meal will taste that much better. And if you just happen to develop a taste for frog in the process … well, there’s not much anybody can do to mess up your day.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Can Only Achieve What You’re Willing to Change

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

I think it was Mark Twain who said everybody complains about the weather, but nobody is doing anything about it. I thought about that yesterday as I drove for six hours through varying intensities of rain, only to arrive at our destination in time for the tornado warnings to go off. And I did pretty much the same thing everybody else does when that happens. I hunkered down and prayed.

And the whole time, I was thinking about family and friends in the great white north, battling blizzard conditions on top of a bed of ice. It sure makes the rain a little more palatable. In fact, if it were a little warmer, I might have gone outside to dance in the rain. I’m kidding. Anybody who has ever seen me dance knows how that would end. “Group, this is Dave. He’s going to be here awhile.”

But, back to the original issue – we complain about the weather, but we never do anything about it. You know, except complain more. “It’s too hot! It’s too cold! It’s muggy! I’m freezing! Who can drive in this stuff?” Whine, whine, whine. And we’re good at it, too!

The point Mark Twain was trying to make is that there’s nothing we can do about the weather. I beg to differ. We can move. Having lived in two completely different climates, I’ll take hot over cold any day. Never once have I had to go outside and shovel sunshine. Besides, that’s why God made swimming pools.

Yet, when you suggest that to somebody who’s miserable in their current surroundings, they can immediately come up with a laundry list of reasons why change isn’t practical. “This is where my roots are. I hate my job, but it pays the bills. The house is too small, but it’s all I can afford. Besides, the kids …” Yeah, if all else fails, blame it on the kids. They’re not listening anyway.

Change is hard. It’s scary. It’s stressful. It takes planning, and preparation, and accepting the possibility of failure. “What if I end up worse off than I am now?” That’s a very real fear, and not without basis. Failure doesn’t just happen on its own. We have to try something first, and sometimes we crash & burn. That’s all part of it.

Would a new job offer better possibilities than the one you have today? Maybe. Could the company decide to restructure and get rid of all the new folks? Yep. It happens every day. The same is true of just about any change we decide to make, whether it’s moving to another state, taking a promotion, starting a business, or buying a car. All you can do is roll the dice and hope for the best.

Change never comes without risk. Get over it. If you want safe & sound, just keep doing what you’ve been doing. At least you can count on that, right? Until the company shuts down, the market crashes, a tornado wipes out the neighborhood, or somebody pretends to be you and cleans out the bank. I don’t worry about that one. If anybody ever steals my identity, they’ll give it back. Trust me.

Sure, change is scary. Almost as scary as staying the same. The most successful people in the world have dreams, things they’d like to achieve or some change that would make life even better. The difference is, they’ve already embraced change, which is why they’re so successful to begin with. Success isn’t a talent we’re born with. It’s a mindset we develop over the course of a lifetime.

Success is nothing more than some level of dissatisfaction with the way things are, and a willingness to do something about it. Every modern convenience was borne of somebody’s dissatisfaction with the status quo. Every job was created because somebody saw a need and did something to fill it. And every beach house was built because somebody said, “That’s where I want to live!”

If there’s something you want, some change that would make life more enjoyable, what are you waiting for? Do something about it! I’m not suggesting you just chuck it all, abandon the house, and go live on the beach. But if living on the beach fits your dreams, then make it happen. Save some money. Start a business. Find a better job. Put the wheels in motion today. That part you can control.

Change makes all things possible. Roadblocks turn into speed bumps and obstacles become launch pads. We may not be able to choose the changes that are required, but we can decide which ones we’re willing to make. Embrace change, and destiny is no longer a matter of fate – it’s whatever we want it to be.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Is Health a Part of Your Dreams?

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

One of the last things I promised my dad, while he was still coherent enough to understand, was that I’d lose weight and get healthy. Granted, we had differing ideas on exactly how that’s done. Dad was always a firm believer that weight is 100% related to what goes in your mouth. I tend to believe it takes a combination of both diet and exercise. Which is why I’m still fat.

Not because I’m wrong – but because that’s two disciplines at once, each a beast of its own and a tall mountain to climb. I can modify my eating. I can exercise. But doing both at once is like standing on my head while juggling chainsaws. Sooner or later, you grab a Big Mac by the wrong end and fall completely off the wagon. And once you do, it’s all so easy to go back to old habits.

Just before he went into the hospital, Dad’s doctor gave him a diet and Dad decided it would be the magic elixir to restore my health, vitality, and youth. The only problem is that diet included no red meat – ever. Okay, I know red meat isn’t the best thing for your health. But Dave without any red meat isn’t good for anybody’s health. Trust me on that.

Years ago, I lost 40 pounds. I was going to the gym most days, and my diet consisted of a modified version of what I’d been eating. By modified, I don’t necessarily mean abbreviated, though smaller portions were part of my strategy. I just made a few small changes, things I could live with for the long-term. You know, until I wasn’t living with them anymore.

I didn’t fall off the program because I got bored with it, or it was too hard to follow. By then, I truly enjoyed working out and didn’t miss any of the things I’d given up in my daily consumption. But life has a way of throwing a knuckleball when you least expect it. In my case, it was the birth of a granddaughter, and all the subsequent evenings in the hospital, complete with fast-food dinners.

It’s been said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and several weeks to fully accept it. Old habits, on the other hand, can be picked up in twelve seconds flat. That’s how long it took me to wolf down that first hot & juicy (translate – lukewarm & greasy) cheeseburger. Throw in a large order of fries (it was going to be a long night) and I was right back where I started. Four months later, so was my weight.

So, why is a motivational writer talking about health and fitness? Because health and fitness are a big part of a complete and fulfilling life. That’s not to say sick and disabled people can’t be happy – they can, and many have learned to enjoy an abundant life despite the challenges. But I think every one of them will tell you they’d rather be healthy as well.

Dreams, the kind that motivate us to get up and do something, rarely involve sitting in the sand as everybody else is racing into the water. Few people have visions of rolling down the boardwalk in a wheelchair or cruising the campground on a mobility scooter. We want to walk, and climb, and run, and dance. Okay, maybe not so much running. It’s not as fun as it looks.

Does that mean a strict diet with smells and flavors that would make a catfish vomit? Does it mean running (literally) to the gym every morning for a three-hour workout followed by tofu bacon and cream of quinoa? Does it mean celery sticks for lunch and a protein shake for dinner before the evening run? No. But it does mean making a few sensible choices.

Those choices begin in the grocery store, and end on a dinnerplate. They begin with turning off the TV and taking an evening walk instead. They begin with eating healthier foods and supplementing to make up the difference. It’s about habits – things we do without even thinking about them. And the best way to form healthy habits is to make small changes and build from there.

Some habits need more of a big-bang approach, like smoking and drinking where cold-turkey is often the best way to go. But for other habits, especially those that aren’t inherently unhealthy (you know, like eating), small changes can get you on the right track. Once you get used to those changes, add in something new. One step at a time, one day at a time. One win at a time.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Make Money or Make Excuses – You Can’t Do Both

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

Well, the verdict is in. Our washing machine has a faulty RF line filter. Unless you’re into electrical stuff, that means nothing. In layman’s terms, it’s fried. And it may or may not be my fault. That all depends who’s paying the bill. I say it was defective, but the manufacturer may have other ideas. All I know is that repairman sure knows his stuff. And the bill reflects it. $523 just to tell me it’s broken. Wow.

The good news is we can get it fixed. Next week. Which means all the dirty clothes that were in it are back in the closet. The nice thing about camping is that people don’t notice smells quite as much. That’s probably due to the multitude of odors that are so prevalent in campgrounds. Like the smell that hit my wife’s nose when I emptied our tanks this morning. Phew! By comparison, I smell fine.

Yes, we’ll have to find a laundromat today. Always have a plan B, right? And a little extra in the bank, because none of these things are cheap. A friend once told me that emergencies have no regard for your dreams, but they know exactly how much you have in savings and the estimate will always come in just a little higher. Can I get an amen?

Thankfully, we’ve got this one covered. Ten years ago, a similar repair would have brought us to our knees. A recent survey revealed that only 39% of adults could afford an unexpected $1000 expense. And for many of them that expense would wipe out their savings completely. Well, guess what? With $250 “service fees” and labor at $135 an hour, you can blow through $1000 in an instant.

Financial experts suggest we should have enough money in savings to cover 3-6 months of living expenses. We’ve all heard that, and we’ve all said the same thing. “On what planet???” You might as well tell us to grow wings and fly. Sure, that looks good on paper. But when you’re barely making ends meet, it’s a little hard to fathom.

Yet, when you ask people why they don’t make more, they pretty much say the same thing … “If I knew how, I would!” Okay, so let me show you how. “Well, yeah, but I don’t have the time for something like that. I’m too busy already. And my brother-in-law said his neighbor’s cousin tried something similar and failed. Besides, I’m up for a cost-of-living raise in a few months. We’ll be fine after that.” Really?

Thankfully for some people, excuses are cheap. Otherwise, they’d go broke just telling you why they’re going broke. If $10 were deducted from their bank account every time they uttered a lame excuse, they’d be overdrawn by dinnertime. And then they’d whine about the overdraft charges. When, all along, they could have used the same amount of energy to actually fix the problem.

You can make money or make excuses – but you can never do both. I didn’t dream that one up. It’s been around a while, but it’s as true today as ever. And sooner or later, we all have to answer this question – which one will make your life better? Which one will make the problems go away? Excuses may buy you some time, but sooner or later you’ll have to pony up. Or give up. It’s your life.

You know one thing you almost never hear? “I make enough – I don’t need any more.” We ALL need more. Things can change in an instant, and what we know today may not be what we’ll live tomorrow. And even if things don’t change, is there nothing else in life you want that you don’t already have? “Sure, if I had the money!” Seems this is right where we started.

We all think our situation will change with time, but it never works out that way. Pay off the car, and it needs repairs. Pay off the house, and the kids are headed to college. Pay off college, and the kids are having grandkids. Get a promotion, and your property tax goes up. Get all that under control, and it’s time to retire. You know, on half-pay (if you’re lucky). And that’s when the medical bills get real.

The question is, what will you do about it? Will you fix the problem, or spend your days in a rocking chair explaining that it’s the best chair you can afford? There are dozens of ways to make more money, and just as many excuses for why you can’t. Take control now, and you won’t need those excuses. Open your mind, and you may find the answer right there waiting for you.

Money can’t fix everything, and there’s something to be said for enjoying what we have. But sooner or later, you’ll need more. We all do. Fix the problem today, and you won’t even have to think about it tomorrow.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Be Proud of What You Do!

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

Yesterday, my wife went to wash clothes and the washing machine wouldn’t turn on. Simple enough. I checked the circuit breaker, and sure enough, it was tripped. Having spent 20 years as an electronics technician, I know tripped breakers are typically a symptom, not a cause. There’s usually something else wrong. I turned it back on and we immediately smelled smoke. Yeah, not so simple anymore.

My washing machine at home is easy to get to. I can pull it out and walk all the way around. In an RV, you need arms as long as Wilt Chamberlain’s, and as skinny as Peewee Herman’s. I don’t qualify on either account. But, as it turns out, there is a third option – somebody who knows how to disassemble the entire back half of the motorhome and set the washing machine in the bathroom door.

There was a time when I did all my own repairs. Rather, I should say, I attempted them. It was a skill borne of necessity. When you can’t afford a professional, you grab a few tools, expose a little butt crack, and make do. If you’re gonna do the job, you have to dress the part, right? Of course, by the time you’re done replacing all the parts you messed up yourself, it would have been cheaper to hire Bubba.

My grandson is at that age where he needs to earn a living, but he’s not quite sure what he wants to be when he grows up. He’ll be 21 next month. And he’s engaged. I’d say it’s about time to start figuring this out. My advice has always been to find something you can enjoy, because you’ll be doing it for a long, long time. Find something that can’t be outsourced, and you can continue doing it a long, long time.

I grew up at a time when there was a little less respect for those professions where you actually need a shower at the end of the day, like mechanics, carpenters, and plumbers. Tell people you spent your days hanging off the back of a garbage truck and you were the life of the party. You know, the moment you left the room.

Jeff Foxworthy once joked that his sister was so proud of her son because he pointed to the sky and said, “Airpwane!” He said, “Well, I would hope so! He’s 13 years old! That boy is gonna have a job with his name on his shirt!” Okay, I’ve had a few of those jobs. At least I used my real name. Not like calling Customer Service and a guy who can barely speak English says, “Hello! My name is Steve!” Right.

Still, there’s always been that stigma about careers that are a little less glamorous than others. But let me tell you, when my drainpipes stop working, a plumber is worth whatever he charges to clean that mess out. Sure, he goes home smelling like whatever was inside those pipes. But ten minutes in the shower, and he’s good as new. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out which bills to put off.

I think we put way too much emphasis on how others perceive our chosen profession. I have one of those “respectable” jobs and, thankfully, it’s something I love. But I’ve been a truck driver, a marine carpenter, a carpet cleaner, a paper boy, a bowling alley mechanic, and even a pizza delivery guy, among others. And you know what? The money all looks and spends the same.

I’m in a business that’s often used as a punchline, especially by people who never had the ambition to try it themselves. But it’s something I enjoy, where I’m able to reach my own goals by helping others do the same. I’m not wealthy, but I could be. And at the end of the day, I can go to sleep feeling good about what I do. Do other people get a chuckle out of it? Sure. That’s their problem, not mine.

Be proud of what you do, but for the right reasons. Not because it makes somebody else happy, but because it makes you happy. Be proud because you’re good at it. Be proud because it’s an honest living. Be proud because you’re willing to get up and go to work every day at a job not everybody else could, or would, do. It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks – your opinion is the only one that counts.

It’s been said that if you find a job doing something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I’m not so sure about that, but if you have to work anyway, wouldn’t you rather do something you can enjoy? Consider opinions, but don’t let anybody else steal your dreams. They’re too important. And so are you.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Life Doesn’t Always Go the Way You’d Planned – That’s a Good Thing

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

The past few days have been a whirlwind. We buried my dad on Saturday, ending a monthlong saga that began with a visit to the doctor and took us through uncharted territory as we figured out all the details of coordinating two funeral homes, transporting him back home, and gathering friends and relatives in the time of Covid. But other than the freezing cold, it was a fitting memorial to a great man.

I wish I could say it’s all behind us, but it’s not. I’ve been down this road before. His birthday is coming up in a month. Every first holiday will bring memories. All the times we would normally get together will be a painful reminder that those days are gone. And, as we finalize the details of his estate, every little step will bring an onslaught of emotions. But we’ll get there. And with each day, it’ll get a little easier.

Life is supposed to prepare us for times like this, and I guess in ways we can’t fully understand, it does. Going through it reminded me of my first several times onstage, where I was running on pure adrenaline. The show itself is pretty much a blur, and afterward you can barely remember anything that happened. Okay, that happened for the first several years. But you get the point.

Life often seems like a boring cycle of repetition, where we do the same things every day, with just a few changes. But every day we do certain things for the first time ever. Maybe nothing as exciting as jumping out of an airplane, but even the things that feel repetitive are laced with first-time variations. I cook that way on purpose. Sure, sometimes it goes in the garbage. But therein lies the sense of adventure.

It’s easy to fall into that mindset where you think nothing ever changes, but every day brings new challenges and adventures. At least that’s what the boss calls them. A former manager used to call me into his office and say, “Dave, I have an opportunity for you!” What that meant was something needed to be done, and he wasn’t going to do it. And more often than not, there was nothing exciting about it.

But when we dig a little deeper, most of the things we do are laced with elements that require a little more thought than simply stirring the sauce. You make the same phone calls you make every day, and then somebody comes up with a new question. A bolt snaps off and you have to get creative about removing it. You run out of red paint and have to improvise.

In my business, we often say it’s all about duplication – just figure out what works and do it every day. But there’s a lot more to it than lather, rinse, and repeat. Every day we run into new scenarios that either challenge our thinking or add something to it. And it’s a good thing, too, because otherwise it would get pretty boring.

As a comedian, I loved being onstage. With very few exceptions, I started every show expecting to rock the house. But anybody who’s been there can tell you it doesn’t always work that way. You get halfway into your best joke and forget a line. A waitress drops a tray of drinks. A drunk in the back keeps yelling “Git ‘er done!” And that’s just in the first five minutes.

But you know, if I went onstage night after night and there were never any surprises, my comedy career would have lasted a few months at most. If I knew exactly what to expect every day on the job, I’d be looking for something else to do. And if I knew every call I made in my business would follow a scripted two-way dialogue to the letter, I’d get bored pretty fast.

The more we do something, the easier it becomes. And the more surprises we handle, the easier they become. You train your mind to think of solutions instead of memorizing a script. I had no idea how to go about shipping my dad back to Ohio. But I knew I could figure it out. And that sense of confidence is what allows us to navigate some of life’s most challenging moments with a sense of calm purpose.

It’s said that practice makes perfect, but we learn so much more from things we try for the very first time and those that don’t go according to plan. Mistakes will be made, and that’s all part of it. But when all is said and done, we’re better for having made those mistakes, and much better equipped to handle whatever pops up next.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved