It’s Easier to Win With 4 Railroads Than a Boardwalk Hotel

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

In two weeks, this year will finally be over. Now I know how it must feel for a prisoner to enter his final stretch behind bars. Except, for most of us, 2021 will pick up pretty much where 2020 leaves off. It’s like leaving work on Thursday after a really tough week. You know something good is on the horizon, but the last thing the boss says is, “See you tomorrow!” Damn.

Okay, I guess waking up on January 1 and realizing you still have a job is probably nothing to complain about. It sure beats the alternative. But let’s be honest. This year has been like living in a Stephen King novel and when you finally reach the end, you find out he’s written a sequel.

Yes, January will look a lot like December, except every check we write will be dated with the wrong year. Normally the gym would be loaded with overweight people in brand-new workout attire, but I have a feeling even that will be missing this year. At least we have an excuse. I mean, can you imagine wearing a mask on a treadmill?

Yes, I know – people in the gym don’t have to wear a mask. All the more reason to stay away. Just following doctor’s orders. And yes, I know, I could walk around the block a dozen times instead. But there’s white stuff on the ground, and it doesn’t appear to be melting nearly as fast as I’d hoped. And what’s under that white stuff gets harder with every passing year. Boom!

Still, January is a time of rejuvenation. It’s a new year, we have new goals, and a fresh outlook on the promise of a much better year. We set goals and refer to them as resolutions, but they’re mostly just pipe dreams. Oh, we mean well … we just don’t give enough thought up front to what it’ll take to achieve them. It’s like biting into a jawbreaker. The really sour kind.

Our goals for the new year usually fall into a few predictable categories – improved health, a more pleasant persona, and getting out of debt. With few exceptions, our hopes for the new year usually fall somewhere into one of those realms. You’d think after a few years we’d have the follow-through perfected. But most of us never get beyond the starting gate.

Part of the problem is that, in our quest for instant results, we set unattainable goals and then try to buck the system to accomplish them. My doctor keeps telling me to set a goal of losing 1-2 pounds per week. Seriously??? At that rate it’ll take the better part of two years! I’m lucky to dream up this year’s resolutions, but making plans a year in advance? Give me a break!

So, we set about looking for shortcuts to achieve our goals faster and, in the process, we just sit here spinning our wheels until early February when we run out of gas and go back to what we’d been doing. “I’ll pay off these bills in no time! I’ll walk to work, shut off the cable, pack a sandwich every day, and quadruple the payment on my credit cards! It’ll work!”

We can even do the math to prove it. Just like that 30-pound weight loss every month. A pound a day … that’s not so much! And, really, it isn’t. For a day or two. But beyond a few days, it’s neither healthy nor sustainable. The same is true of most things we’d like to accomplish. Fast & furious is a great way to crash and burn. Sometimes we have to slow down to speed up.

Put a plan in place, one that builds on a solid foundation and achieves measurable but moderate goals every week. No matter how much money you make, you could easily double that in the coming year. That part is easy. It’s the willingness to start small and build that gets in the way. We want results, and we want them NOW!

Friends, 2021 could be the year you break out and set yourself on a path of achieving your most treasured dreams. But the rules have changed, and you have to play within those rules to win. You can’t do it the way you would have last year, or even at the start of this year. You have to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.

As I said yesterday, our world has changed and we’re not going back. You have to adapt to the present if you want to succeed in the future. Our dreams may be the same, but the means of achieving them are different. Open your mind, set attainable goals, and work with 2021 instead of against it. How do you achieve huge success? One small win at a time.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Your Limitations Are Somebody Else’s Strengths – Team Up!

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

It’s hard to believe December is finally here. This has been the longest year ever, I do believe, and not just because it had one extra day in February. That was just icing on the cake. I’ve always said that when you skip a Monday at work, you get four more to make up for it. I’m not sure if that explains 2020, but I’m willing to consider all possibilities.

Normally by now we’d be getting in the holiday spirit. Houses would be decorated, trees would be up, department stores would be bustling with shoppers, holiday music would dominate the airwaves, and in the parking lots people would be giving one another the finger as they battled for the last “good” parking spot. Okay, that’s pretty much all year.

My outdoor lights have been up for a month, but we just turned them on last week. That’s not as much about preparation as a fat guy who isn’t safe on the ladder anymore, a day of decent weather, and a grandson who needed money. You play the hand you’re dealt. Besides, he’s young and bounces easier than I do. If I hit the ground, things break. Like underground pipes.

I decided one day that I needed to inspect the seals on our RV’s roof. The book says that needs to be done twice a year, and I’m all about preventive maintenance. Yes, I’m really that old. Only problem is, inspecting the seals means getting up there where you can actually see them. On a rounded fiberglass roof. Twelve feet off the ground. With an asphalt safety net. No thank you.

I’ve always been able to fix just about anything. I learned these things out of necessity. When you can’t afford a mechanic, you figure it out. With each success, I became more confident. There were setbacks. Like that time I replaced my brakes and five miles down the road the pedal went to the floor … with a Cadillac stopped in front of me. That’ll get your attention.

But I learned something from each mistake. A fraction of the air it takes to stop a semi will mess up your whole day in a hydraulic brake system. Go figure. And we won’t even talk about the time I repacked the rear wheel bearings on my VW Beetle and later that night my left-rear tire went bouncing across A1A in Key West. Oops!

My greatest challenge was acknowledging my limitations. And there was really only one. I had no fear of tearing an engine apart, but I’ve never seen the inside of a transmission because transmissions are the automotive version of Mouse Trap. I have this vision of removing a single screw and twelve springs go flying across the room. “Transmission broken?” It is now.

But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to recognize those limitations a little better. It’s not that I can’t do the job. I could climb under a car just as easily today as I did forty years ago. It’s getting back up that’s a problem. That, and this knuckle on my left hand that likes to lock up any time I bend my finger. So, I have to keep that finger perfectly straight. Don’t take it personally.

There are things we do really well, and for each of us, those things are different. Can I open a clogged drain line? Sure. Am I the best person to do it? Not in a million years. Tell me to wire a new switch, and I’m completely in my element. But when it came to brain surgery, I paid somebody else to do it. My wife pretty much insisted on that.

There’s no shame in admitting our shortcomings. Whether related to age, ability, agility, or just a general willingness to do the job, there will always be some things we do better than others. And for those things we can’t do quite as well as we’d like, there are others who can do the job with their eyes closed. At least that’s what my surgeon said.

It’s the same when it comes to our dreams. If we’re the expert on how to achieve those dreams, why are we still dreaming about it? Sometimes, we have to throw a question out there and listen to the responses. They don’t all have to make sense. They don’t even have to be something we wanted to hear. But all too often, the most insane answer is the best.

Have you ever found something you’d lost, and then proclaimed, “It was in the last place I looked!” Well, duh! But that’s pretty much true of all the things we seek. Learn where they can be found and how to get them, and it’s simply a matter of doing the work. You don’t have to be an expert. You don’t even have to hire one. All you have to do is open your mind and listen.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Opportunity Doesn’t Always Look the Way You’d Imagined

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

It’s been a while since I received any of those emails informing me that a long lost relative I never knew departed this life and left behind millions of dollars just for me. I’m beginning to think I missed my one big chance to be rich. I don’t even get the ones telling me “This is nobody you know, but I found a loophole in the law and we can still share in his riches.” I’m bummed.

And then there were the emails telling me I could get Viagra without a prescription, for a fraction of the normal price, from a website in Nigeria. Okay, maybe I’m confusing the scams. But what I want to know is, exactly what did I do to get on that email list? I even got a few for breast enhancements. Did they even look at my picture? I’m good. Trust me.

I don’t receive many of those emails anymore. I guess they ran out of Viagra, and rich people stopped dying in Nigeria. Come to think of it, that may be more than just coincidence. Maybe people live longer when they don’t … you know. But don’t quote me on that. I’m no expert. I don’t even play one on TV.

We do live in a time where things aren’t always as they appear. Job offers come out of the blue, and right away they ask for your bank information so they can deposit your paychecks directly. I’m all for easy money, but let’s at least get the preliminaries out of the way first. You know, like what is the job and where is your company? I only look stupid.

On the other hand, how intelligent is it to go to that much effort to steal the banking information from somebody who’s desperate enough to fall for an online job scam? Odds are, you won’t get much more than forty-two cents out of that account, and that’s only there because ATMs don’t dispense change. If they did, the account would already be empty.

Sadly, there are a lot of people in this world who would rather use their energy figuring out ways to bilk unsuspecting, hardworking people out of the money they’ve earned than to go earn some money themselves. I often wondered how many people fall for these scams. But it only takes a few. Throw enough bait in the lake and sooner or later you’ll catch something.

That’s why we tend to be so leery of opportunity that we let some good ones slip right through our fingers. More accurately, we look the other way without even thinking about it. And, for good reason. Some of those opportunities make the Brooklyn Bridge look like a worthy investment.

But every now and then, a good one comes along. And if it looks and smells the way we thought a great opportunity should look and smell, we jump on it. The problem is expectations don’t always match reality. What we think we’re looking for doesn’t exist, and what we’re really looking for is completely different than we thought it would be.

As the realtor pulled up in front of our house, my wife was reading the listing to me. Only one bathroom. Why are we even looking at this one? But we were here, so we took a closer look. Behind the refrigerator I saw a closet door. When I opened the door, there were stairs to a finished basement that wasn’t even mentioned in the listing. We’ve been living here 18 years.

Things aren’t always as they appear. Sometimes we have to take a closer look. One of my favorite quotes comes from Thomas Dewar, who said, “Minds are like parachutes – they only work when they’re open.” I’m not sure that means much to somebody whose parachute didn’t open, but the rest of us should probably give it some thought.

An open mind keeps us from jumping into something we should have avoided, and it’s that same open mind that can let us see the promise in opportunities we may never have considered. Every author knows the secret to selling books is an attractive cover. But some of the most successful books of all time had a plain cover with a simple title.

When something looks too good to be true, take a step back. But don’t discount it entirely. Dig deeper. Talk to people who have found success instead of those who never tried. Look beyond your premonitions to see what’s really there. It may be nothing. It may be a disaster waiting to happen. And it may just be the answer to your prayers. There’s only one way to find out.

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

Being Right Doesn’t Mean Everyone Else is Wrong

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

It occurred to me a few days ago that, while my posts have gotten more personal over the past couple of weeks, they’ve also gotten a little more somber. I enjoy sharing that personal side, and I think most of you enjoy the connection as well. But the whole purpose of these posts is to illustrate that, no matter what’s going on in life, there’s always something to give us hope of a brighter future.

That said, there are times when our best efforts to remain positive seem to be under constant assault from people we may not even know. All you have to do is turn on the news, and it’s an endless barrage of negativity. Whether it’s crime in the streets or political transgressions, the worst in human behavior is right there on full display.

Of course, when it comes to politics, we all have our own opinions and those opinions sometimes drive us to show a side of ourselves that we would normally keep in check. It’s hard to listen to opinions against a strongly held belief without responding in kind. Turn on social media and you’ll see everything from civil discussion to outright hostility. All from people who claim to love their country.

Well, let’s just get this out in the open. A country isn’t one political party or one side of an issue. It’s not one race or one religion. It’s not one occupation, one state, one county, or one neighborhood. And it’s not one set of values trampling everything else in its way. It’s millions of people, each with their own heritage and values, living and working together toward a common good. Period.

One of our most sacred rights in this nation is the right of free speech. But what we’re allowed to say in a strictly legal sense isn’t always what we should say in a more human sense. We learned that as children, the first time we shared a particularly objectionable opinion with our parents. That’s when we learned the meaning of respect. It’s not always what we say, but how we say it.

An opinion that doesn’t make any sense to us personally may make perfect sense to somebody else. If it’s a point of well-known fact, like the sun rises in the east and sets in the west (or that the world is indeed round), there’s little to dispute. Opinions, on the other hand, may be based on facts, but they are nothing more than our assessment of how those facts fit within our own set of values.

That’s why two people can read the same transcript or watch the same news report and come away with a completely different perspective on what was said. It’s not that we saw or heard anything inherently different – it’s what we went into that situation hoping to hear. We all have our beliefs, and nobody likes to be wrong. So, we focus on any shred of evidence that supports those beliefs.

Years ago, a first-grade teacher took a class full of energetic, loving children, and turned them into two warring factions in a single day by suggesting one “fact” – that blue-eyed people are better and smarter than brown-eyed people. Within minutes, best friends were at odds with one another simply because of the color of their eyes. Smiles turned to tears, and before long the shoving began.

Thankfully, she monitored the situation and corrected her erroneous “fact” in time to prevent bloody noses. But it taught those kids a lesson I hope they never forgot. It made me wish we’d all had somebody like that teacher. Because maybe we’d have grown up realizing that differences make us stronger, and just because somebody doesn’t think like us, that doesn’t make them inherently stupid.

I avoid political discussions in my writing for obvious reasons. I have my values, and you have yours. Some of us will agree wholeheartedly, and some will just as strongly disagree. And that’s okay. There are nations where the people are only exposed to one side of a religious or political doctrine. And we describe those nations with words like “iron curtain”, “dictatorship”, and “brain-washed.”

We strengthen our mind, not by closing it to contrary opinions, but by opening it to other points of view. When we consider facts and opinions that challenge our beliefs instead of blindly supporting them, we begin to evolve. We may still come out on the other end fully believing whatever we did at the start, but at least we’ll be able to better explain why we feel the way we do.

And that explanation of our beliefs is much more valuable in the form of silent reflection rather than open debate. You may draw somebody else to your point of view, but odds are you’ll only drive the wedge in deeper. Cooperation turns to animosity, and the battle begins. All because somebody else dared to have eyes of a different color.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved