You Earn What You Deserve, and You Deserve What You’ve Earned

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is starting off just right.

So, the year is half over … how are you doing on your goals for the year? Yeah, I know. I didn’t even set that one up with a light jab. I just went straight for the knockout punch. But it’s a question we all need to answer if we want to accomplish anything worthwhile.

And I’m not even talking about New Year’s resolutions, because we all know how that went. According to Forbes Magazine, only 8% of us have accomplished our resolutions for the year. The rest of us gave up long ago. I made a resolution once to never again make a New Year’s resolution, and I even broke that one. Go figure.

I’ve made a little progress toward my goals for the year. Not nearly as much as I’d envisioned by this point in the year, but it’s a step in the right direction. And sometimes, that’s the hardest part. It’s easy to make a decision, to commit to making a positive change. Doing something about it takes a little more effort. And that’s where most of us fall short.

The problem is largely in our minds – we know what needs to be done, but maybe we don’t think we can actually do it. Or we blow it out of proportion and make it a lot more dramatic than it really is. After all, who wants to celebrate tying their shoes every morning? If I’m going to spend my time and energy on something, it’s got to be something BIG!

Another thing is that sense of entitlement, or the lack of it. We know what we want. We’re even willing to work for it. But do we really deserve it? After all, everybody around us is right about where we are in life. What makes us so special? Why should we have anything more than the people who are doing exactly what we’re doing every day?

Well, if we’re going to put forth exactly the same amount of effort as everyone else, then we haven’t really earned anything better. That kid who studies hard every day, puts forth their best effort, and turns in every assignment on time, deserves an A. And then there’s that kid who goofs off all day and would love to get an A, but knows deep down he doesn’t deserve it.

It’s when we question our entitlement to enjoy a better life that we find it hard to put forth the effort. We dream about it, but deep down there’s that nagging reminder that, for most of the people enjoying that life, they already put forth the effort. They did the work and now they’re reaping the reward. And here we are, still thinking about it.

What sets achievers apart from the rest of us isn’t heredity or education or upbringing or even blind luck. It’s the willingness to work for something better. It’s having a dream, believing in themselves enough to go for it, and following through until they reach their goal. And, just like that student in school working for an A, they’ve earned success. They deserve it.

And make no mistake, there will be some who scoff at their ambitions or try to take away that sense of entitlement for something they’re doing the work to accomplish. “Seriously? You’ve lived on this side of town your whole life! You never even went to college! What makes you think you deserve to live over there?”

And if nobody says that to us directly, we’ll fill in the blanks. Because our brain only knows what it’s been taught. Every bit of knowledge comes from something in our past – something we experienced, something we learned, or even something we saw somebody else try. And it’s hard to get our brain to think beyond what it knows.

But if you’re out there working for something you want, not letting anything stand in the way, you absolutely deserve the success for which you’re working. If that person sitting next to you thinks they deserve the same level of success as you, then maybe they should be out there working for it as well.

Dreaming is easy, and it’s really not so much of a stretch to believe we could someday achieve our dreams. But that element of entitlement, of knowing we’ve earned the success we desire, comes from putting forth the effort. The harder you work, the more deserving you feel, and that makes you want to work even harder.

You deserve whatever level of success you desire and are willing to work to achieve. Life isn’t always fair, but it tends to show a preference for those who earn what they desire. Take that first step. It’s really not as big as it seems. Just do the work and believe in yourself. The reward will be that much sweeter knowing what it took to get there.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Love For Your Country Begins With Love For One Another

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

Today is July 4th. Across most of the world, it’s simply the day after July 3rd. But here in the United States, it’s a day of celebration. On this day in 1776 a group of men gathered in Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence, and a new nation was born. It was an act of bravery. It was an act of defiance. And it was an act of hope. It was the realization of a dream – a land of their own.

It was also an act that marked the escalation of a war already in progress. Over the next seven years, as many as 113,000 soldiers and sailors on both sides would lose their life, either through combat or as the result of infection, starvation, or disease. To each of them, it was a fight worth winning.

Today is the day we honor those brave patriots. We raise flags, have cookouts, and watch fireworks at the end of the day. Some will attend parades, and others will have to work just like any other day. But even then, it’s with an air of celebration and hope. Because not only do we celebrate our independence, today we celebrate our future.

Patriotism means different things to different people. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word as “love for or devotion to one’s country.” That’s pretty simple. And in the very next sentence, an example of the word in usage, it reads, “Although poles apart ideologically, they are both unashamed of their patriotism.” Read that again, and let it sink in. It’s important.

What makes a nation great is not a population of citizens blindly marching to the same beat. It’s people from all walks of life, with different beliefs and values, with an ancestry tied to nations around the globe, from all races and religious backgrounds, united by a single common thread – love for their country.

Are there people in your family who don’t share your values? Are there close friends whose choices don’t always meet with your approval? You may disagree from time to time, quietly or openly. You may even argue. But at the end of the day, do you still love that person regardless of those differences? Of course, you do.

Love for one another doesn’t mean we always agree. It doesn’t even mean we respect their opinion. It simply means we respect their right to have an opinion, and to express it as peacefully (or forcefully) as we express our own. And sometimes, that means quietly accepting defeat when they make a stronger case or win the battle at hand.

But it’s hard to accept defeat, to admit we may have been wrong, or that others are entitled to their opinion as well. Just as we want what’s best for our children, we want what’s best for our country. And all that really means is we want what we think is best for our country, based on our own values and convictions. But that’s not patriotism. It’s idealism. And the two can be very easily confused.

Civil debate is a healthy thing – asking questions and considering an opposing point of view. It’s how we grow as individuals and as a nation. And sometimes that means questioning, or even openly disagreeing, with the actions taken by those elected to represent us. It’s not unpatriotic to disagree with your leaders as long as your intent is to effect positive change.

Yet, we live in a time where opinions run strong and civil discourse often escalates into heated debate. Spend ten minutes reading some of the political chats on social media and you’ll see some of the worst possible behavior by people who claim to be patriotically and morally superior to those with whom they disagree. That’s not civil debate. It’s a verbal free-for-all that nobody ever wins.

As our nation celebrates its independence today, there will be some who prefer a quiet day with family, and others who want all the pomp and circumstance of a day filled with parades and fireworks. Some will silently protest, and others will celebrate like it’s … well, the fourth of July.

We won’t always agree with everybody around us. We may not even agree with those closest to us. And we will certainly have opinions about those who establish policies that impact the way we live. That’s not only okay, it’s good. It’s healthy, and it’s what democracy is all about. It’s what makes a nation great – people willing to challenge the status quo in search of something better.

If we’d never challenged the notion of picking up a rock to move it, we may never have discovered the simplicity of the wheel. Stagnation occurs in a closed body of water. It also occurs in a closed mind. In order to grow, we must open our hearts and minds to other ideas. When we can do that in a spirit of compassion and cooperation, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Can Make it to the Finish Line, You Win

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

Not long ago, a friend at work was training for a marathon. I remember thinking I’d like to be able to do that someday. Not because I love running – I’d rather get another vasectomy. And I couldn’t win if everybody else made ten wrong turns and took a nap in the middle. I’d like to be able to do it just to prove to myself that I can.

Now, let’s set some expectations. In my case, “running” a marathon would include 100 yards of light jogging at the start, followed by several miles of walking at various levels of slowness, with a halfhearted jog in the final 50 yards. And maybe a few jogs in the middle if there’s a particularly attractive woman looking my way. You know, like Sandra Bullock. In a bikini.

I don’t know that I’ll ever run a marathon, or even a half-marathon. But I would like to get out and do a 5k walk. My doctor says walking is healthy. He says it’ll make me lose weight. Well, the jury is still out on that, because either the doctor or my bathroom scale has been lying. But I do find that I’m able to get through cold and flu season mostly unscathed. That’s worth a few blocks after lunch.

I also take vitamins – really good vitamins that have proven their value over and over. I knew I was onto something when the doctor looked at my blood test results and smiled. He never smiles. My numbers aren’t perfect, but they’re a lot better than they were before. And at this age, better is good enough. Better can add a few years to your life and ward off infirmity a few years longer as well.

Sometimes, it’s not about the win, but simply staying in the game. I used to watch NASCAR races every week. Invariably, people would spin out and crash into the wall, and cars would be completely demolished. The team would work feverishly to get their car back on the track, no matter how long it took. Meanwhile, the rest of the field kept racking up the laps.

Finally, you’d see the car come back out, looking like a bulldozer held together with duct tape. The front bumper was hanging off, the hood was crumpled, the back end looked like it had been smacked by a freight train, and every side panel was rippled like a crinkle-cut French fry. The engine was smoking, and the car could barely run the speed limit. You know, in a residential area.

And you’d have to wonder why they even bothered. There’s no way they could win the race. Sometimes, they were so far behind they couldn’t even add a single point to their total for a possible run at the season championship. They were on the track for one reason and one reason only – they came there to race. And as long as the car was able to complete a single lap, they were going for it.

We face similar decisions all through life. We start something we know we can’t finish, but we try anyway. The boss gives us a job we’ve never done before with an impossibly short deadline. We know we’ll never get it all done in time, but we give it our best. And somehow, in the 11th hour, things start going our way and we get a lot more done than we’d ever imagined. Maybe not all, but enough.

If you think about it, I’m sure you can come up with several examples of that in your own life. So, let me ask you a question. What personal goals have you set aside year after year, simply because you can’t see yourself ever crossing the finish line? Or maybe you just realized it would take several years to get it done and you’re waiting to find a shortcut that’ll get you there faster. Meanwhile, nothing gets accomplished.

I’ve been trying for several years to lose weight. By that I mean I’ve been thinking and talking about it for several years. And along comes the doctor, telling me that I should set a goal of losing 1-2 pounds per month. “But it’ll take TWO YEARS to do that! I can’t wait that long!” Well, you know what? If I’d started two years ago, I’d be a lot closer to my goal today. Maybe not all, but enough.

Sometimes it’s not about coming in first, but simply making it to the finish line. It’s about setting a goal, and not letting anything keep you from trying. You may fall down. You may spin out. And you may even hit a concrete wall. But as long as you’re willing to get back in there and give it your best, you win. Put together enough of those little wins and nothing can stand in your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Brightest Bulb Needs Electricity to Shine

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

Have you ever watched a flock of geese migrating south for the winter and wondered why they always fly in a “V” formation? As it turns out, it has little to do with organization and making sure everybody has a good view. It’s all about splitting the wind resistance between them so the whole group covers more miles with less energy. It’s about teamwork.

Stock car drivers do the same thing. When you see a line of several cars running bumper-to-bumper, they’re not trying to spin one another out. They save that for the last lap. Besides, who wants a car spinning inches in front of you when you’re motoring along at a leisurely 180 mph? Again, it’s about teamwork. The same act that would land you in jail on the street gets them to the finish line faster.

Rarely do you see anybody achieve success completely on their own. The best quarterback in the world will never complete a pass without some great blockers. And the strongest linebacker would have to chase every ball carrier to the goal line if not for a defensive line that can take break up the play at the line of scrimmage. No matter how good you are, it still takes a team to win.

It’s one thing to show up and do your best. That’s something we should all do every day. But it’s not much of a race if only one person crosses the finish line and the rest can’t get out of second gear. You may win the race, but the bragging rights just aren’t quite the same. And odds are, the grandstands will be empty long before the race is over. So much for those post-race autographs.

We’ve all been in situations like that where, for one person on the team, it’s not as much about getting the job done as outshining everybody else on the team. Sometimes it’s passive, where they simply run off on their own and leave everybody else to figure it out. And other times it’s a little more nefarious. Believe it or not, there are people out there who will trip the fastest runner to win.

Either way, the result is the same. The job gets done, but not as quickly or as well as it could have. And guess what happens the next time the same job needs to be done? That star player is right back where they started. They can’t achieve the next higher goal because they’re stuck doing the job they didn’t help others learn to do just as well.

Sometimes, we have to be willing to step down in order to step up. When we take time to raise up those around us, it raises the collective average and we all attain a greater level of success as a result. Sure, it’s great to be able to throw that epic pass that the fans will be talking about for weeks. But what good is it if the other team goes home with the win?

Go to the practice field of any winning team and you’ll see the star players out there teaching the rookies a few tricks. Sure, it takes a little away from their own training. But they know that, in the end, it’s not about being the fastest or the best – it’s about winning the game. And the best players know it’s hard to reach the goal line when you’re tripping over the fallen bodies of your own team.

We all want to be our very best. We want people to respect our talent and, whether we’ll admit it or not, we all want recognition for a job well-done. But it’s easier to climb a mountain with a little help. And once you find a way to the next level, it’s your job to show the others how you got there. You may reach the top on your own. But it’ll take a lot longer and you’ll be all alone when you do.

If you want to elevate yourself, start by elevating those around you. Find the person who needs your help the most. It may distract you from your immediate goal, but in the long run the whole group will run faster and smoother as a result.

It takes a lot of energy for a locomotive to pick up speed, but once it gets up to speed, it’s able to dial back the energy and rely on the momentum of the entire train to keep moving. And the trip isn’t a success unless the entire train reaches its destination. Even that rusty old boxcar with the clackety wheels at the end.

We shine as individuals, but we win as a team. Raise up those around you, and you raise yourself in the process. You may rise up by climbing on somebody else’s back, but you’ll both reach greater heights if you help them stand tall in the process.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Want Me to Act Whose Age?

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

Today I’m taking what those of us at work commonly refer to as a “mental health day.” In other words, instead of going to a nice, quiet office and finishing up work that will certainly be waiting for me Monday morning, I’m spending the day with two preschoolers and their pre-teen cousin. Maybe my mental health is a little worse than I thought.

But I have to be honest, you can learn a lot by spending a few hours around young children. After a few hours you’ve pretty much learned enough for a day, but they don’t seem to wear down as fast as we do. Still, kids have got a grasp on life that adults seem to have lost, and I’m sure it’s what keeps them young. They don’t get old until they start spending too much time with us.

I wrote a piece several years ago titled, “Will You Please Stop Acting Your Age?” The premise was pretty simple. As parents, we often admonish our kids to act their age. It’s a rather ungratifying reaction to the immaturity and silliness of youth. You know, the predictable behavior that makes being young so special. Sometimes, “act your age” really means “act old, like me.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have people who have grown so old that they’ve forgotten what it was like to be young and have zero patience for anybody whose laughter disturbs their afternoon nap. Or their mid-morning nap, or any of the other naps they take all through the day. That also includes the times you wish they would take a nap, so they’d stop complaining. Good luck.

There have been times when I’ve caught myself acting older than I really am, if age is truly a factor in that. I’m not sure, because I see a lot of people nearly twice my age (I said nearly) who seem to have found a second youth that lights up their face like a full-day’s sunshine. So, who’s really acting their age and who’s just using age as an excuse?

I work with a small group of women who seemingly have an unnatural level of energy. They’re constantly off somewhere, exploring new destinations and enjoying the night life. Any time a volunteer opportunity arises, they’re the first to sign up. I doubt they ever spend a boring weekend sitting around the house, because there’s just too much to do. You know – like living.

Granted, two of them are about half my age but the other one has kids almost their age. Still, I was telling somebody yesterday that I don’t remember the last time I had that much energy and, even when I did, I didn’t put it to very good use. Once I had a place of my own to call home, that’s where I stayed. My wife would suggest outings, but I found a reason to pass on pretty much everything.

Now, all these years later, I would give anything to have the time and energy to do some of those things. I remember our last visit to Key West. We parked the car downtown every morning and spent the day on foot, visiting different museums, eating in different restaurants, taking a sunset cruise on an old clipper ship, sipping Pina Coladas by the pool … it was awesome.

I don’t know if I could keep up that pace for a day now. But you know what? I intend to find out. I don’t want to be one of those old people who sits around the hotel gazing down at the beach. I want to be out there where the action is, living every moment to its fullest. When my time on earth is done, I want the undertaker to say, “I tried everything, but I just can’t get that smile off his face.”

Age is simply a number. Granted, it’s a number that only goes so high before we have to hand over the keys and move on. But, for that very reason, it’s a number that should come with tons of memories and incredible stories, things that will make our great-grandchildren shake their head and say, “Wow!”

Acting our age may seem refined and dignified, and depending on the setting, it’s probably expected. But acting my age doesn’t mean I have to act old. It doesn’t mean I have to give up fun and laughter. And it doesn’t mean I can’t get down on the floor and sing silly songs with my little ones or take them on the tallest rollercoaster in the park. You know. When they’re old enough.

Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. You can enjoy life or sit around and complain about it. But remember, those little eyes are on you. If you want them to live a long, healthy, and vibrant life, show ‘em how it’s done!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Define Your Circumstances – Don’t Let Them Define You

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

Yesterday was an emotional day for our family. It was the culmination of several years of despair, often highlighting some of the very worst in human behavior, at the ultimate expense of an innocent 11-year-old. In cases like this, there is no justice – only victims. Sometimes all you can do is pick up the pieces and try to move on. Thankfully, for my daughter and granddaughter, that’s the choice they’ve made.

I don’t want this post to focus on the negative aspects of divorce, or the twisted way in which some court-appointed authoritarians dispense their own unique brand of justice. It brings to mind a line from the movie Something to Talk About, where an attorney reminds his client that “divorces don’t happen in church.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Yet, through it all, I’ve seen my daughter grow from a hollow shell of a person, downtrodden by an abusive spouse and consumed with a complete lack of hope, into a vibrant young woman, confident and filled with goals that I have no doubt she will accomplish. For her, life has just begun. And I couldn’t be more proud.

We all experience things in life that seem hell-bent on driving us into the dust from which we came. Relationships end, jobs vanish, accidents happen, and bank accounts run dry. And, while there may be things we can do to avoid some of the challenges in life, nobody truly deserves the hardships they can bring. Adversity has no sense of justice, and it can happen to the best of us.

What’s important is that we find a way to rise above adversity and come out stronger. That can be hard to even think about, much less visualize, when you’re at the bottom of the pile fighting for survival. But, as Mom always used to say, when you hit rock bottom, there’s only one way you can go, and that’s back up.

Okay, some people find a home at rock bottom and stay there a long time. And some grab a shovel and dig even deeper. But, short of personal choice and destructive actions, anything we do will elevate us to a higher level. Maybe not all the way to the top, but sometimes the initial goal is simply to get our heads above water. From there we can find a way out.

As I take my lunchtime walks, I see people at all levels. There are wealthy executives, salaried professionals, hourly employees, public servants and the public they serve. Some are self-employed and others are unemployed. Some own lavish homes and some have no home. Some are seemingly on top of the world, and others just want a way out of this world. And everything in between.

It would be easy to form an opinion of these people, to rationalize why some deserve the good fortune that seems to fill their life, and others are at the bottom because of choices they made. And there may be some truth to that, in some cases. But it’s also possible those people did all the right things and still found themselves struggling for their very existence. You just never know.

Every one of us is capable of greatness. We can achieve anything we desire and leave this world a better place simply because we were in it. Likewise, every one of us is one or two strokes of bad luck away from needing some help. Hospitals are full of patients from all walks of life, many suffering the same debilitating or even life-endangering conditions. As I said, adversity has no sense of justice.

Step outside the hospital and people are fighting equally challenging circumstances. Some were thrust upon them, and some they may have brought on themselves. And sometimes, the person fighting the greatest adversity is the person we see in the mirror every morning.

Circumstances, no matter how good or bad, are temporary. They’re just a moment in time. It’s what we do with that moment that defines our true destiny. It’s been said that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. But in order to do that, you must first grab those lemons and squeeze them beyond recognition. Only then can you find the true potential of what lies inside.

From there, just add a little sugar (self-confidence and focused effort), and those lemons form the foundation of a much more desirable existence. We all face adversity. And we all have the capability to rise above and enjoy the life we deserve. We are defined by our circumstances only to the extent that we embrace them. Choose the life you deserve, then do whatever it takes to make it happen.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Work Hard, Play Hard – You’ve Earned It

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

I’m taking a rare day off in the middle of the week. I’d like to say I just felt like it, but that’s not quite true. I just don’t like to use my paid time off without a pretty good reason. I’d rather save it up for something fun. If I take off sick, halfway through the day I’m bemoaning the fact that I burned up a day of vacation time to sit around the house and feel bad. It’s just never been my thing.

I guess I got that trait from my dad. I remember asking him once if we could put the boat in the water and spend a day fishing. But Dad’s job required that he worked weekends, with two weekdays off. I remember saying, “Just call in sick. You’ve got all that sick leave anyway.” He said no and told me, “You never know when I may need that sick time for something real.”

Well, not too many years later, that premonition came home to roost. After a massive heart attack that almost ended his life, he had to spend the next three months going through corrective procedures and recovery before he was able to return to work. And he had enough sick leave on the books to cover every single day of that time. Message received, Dad.

Last year as I faced surgery, it was comforting to know I had enough paid time off on the books to cover the time before short-term disability would kick in. And, even at that, I still ended up having to sell back some vacation time because the company wouldn’t let me carry over more than 140 hours to the next year. I’ll have a balance at the end of this year as well.

Now, all that sounds good and responsible, right? But you know what else it is? It’s exhausting. There’s a reason companies don’t let us carry over an unlimited amount of vacation time from one year to the next. They want us to use some, because they know all too well the effects of burnout. It robs us of productivity and, left unchecked, can lead to some pretty serious health issues.

In my posts, I talk a lot about work and effort and getting things done. And those things are important. They keep our mind and body active, and that helps keep us alive. But there’s also a time to step away from work and enjoy a little of what you’ve been working for. Whether that’s a family vacation, a weekend outing, or just some quiet time at home, we need it.

Make no mistake, some of the healthiest and most vibrant people I know are the ones who always seem to be coming back from vacation in places most of us only dream about. And it shows in their productivity on the job. It’s not hard to put in a little extra effort when you’re well-rested. It’s also not hard to put in that extra effort when you know there’s something enjoyable coming.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I keep a picture of a motorhome on my desk. It’s not there to keep me from forgetting what it looks like. I can see them every day on the road as somebody else motors down the road, living my dream. I keep that picture because it reminds me every day of what I’m working for. It’s why I do the extra things I do. It’s what makes that extra effort worthwhile.

A song in the 1980s suggested that everybody’s working for the weekend. I think that was more a reference to short-term romance, but it raises an important question. Are we all just working to get through the week and take two days off, or do we have something bigger in mind? Is there something other than Friday that motivates us to get out of bed every day? I sure hope so.

We all have to earn a living and, for most of us, that means going to work every day. If you have dreams that your job won’t quite support, you may have to put in a little extra work on the side. But if you don’t take time to rejuvenate, and don’t have a reward waiting at the end, it’s just work. Do that for 45 years and you’ll see firsthand why some people grow old way before their time.

If you’re going to work, make sure you know what you’re working for. And take a little time along the way to sample the lifestyle you hope to achieve. The break will do you good. And the people around you may thank you for it as well.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved