Luck Isn't Something You Trip Over

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don't Wait For Luck – Make Your Own

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Your Dreams Don’t Care How You Get There

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

I was thinking yesterday about the story of a man who yearned to win the lottery. Oh, the things he’d do and the places he’d go. He even turned to prayer. “Please God, let me win the lottery!” Still nothing. Week after week, his prayers went unanswered. Finally, in desperation he cried out again … “Please God! Why won’t you help me?” A booming voice from the Heavens replied, “Help me out here Jim … buy a ticket!”

We all have things we want, things we’d like to do, goals we’d like to accomplish. And sometimes, the answer is right there in front of our face and it’s so simple we don’t give it a second thought. Or worse yet, we do give it a second thought but it’s not the opportunity we were hoping for. We wanted something a little more exciting or glamorous. So, we keep waiting for the next one to come along.

Make no mistake, if your dreams rely on winning the lottery, you’re almost certainly in for some disappointment. We all know the odds. And sure, for those who win, the reward is instant. All those things they wanted are now there for the taking. And, according to statistics, within 3-5 years it’s all gone and they’re right back where they started, but with an insane amount of debt.

There’s something to be said for earning things the old-fashioned way, through work and dedication. And I think the reason we don’t like hearing that is because we’ve done it for all these years and still haven’t reached our goals. Worse yet, inflation seems to keep those goals about the same distance away with each passing year. Your pay goes up, and so does the price of your dream. Ugh!!!

So, the key is to do something different. Some people go back to school so they can increase their earnings, but most of that increase goes to pay off school loans. There are areas of the country where you can make more money for doing the same thing you do now, but the cost of living in those areas is that much higher. You could take a second job, but how long can you keep up that pace?

Again, sometimes the answer is right there in front of your face. Somebody comes along and shows you how to make a little extra money, maybe even a lot. But it’s not something you ever saw yourself doing. Maybe you’ve had friends who tried the same thing and it didn’t work for them. And how will you hold your head up when people laugh and say, “Really? That’s your plan???”

A lot of people tried to fly for centuries before the Wright Brothers ever lifted off from the dunes of North Carolina. Some of them never got off the ground. Some watched their creations disintegrate on the first take-off attempt. And some, armed with nothing more than faith and a pair of flimsy wings, fell to their demise from a cliff. For anybody with half a brain, there were plenty of reasons not to try.

And then along came two brothers from Dayton, Ohio with no more brains than the others, driven by a simple dream – to climb into a machine of their own creation, and soar with the birds. That was 116 year ago and look at where we are now. Do you think they ever imagined supersonic jets and trips to the moon? They just wanted to fly. And the dream was big enough to drive them to succeed where others had failed.

And here’s the thing – the Wright Flyer wasn’t all that different than many other early designs that never got off the ground. But they knew they were onto something and kept going where others had failed. It was the perfect combination of wingspan, airfoil design, propeller size, and even headwind, that allowed them to make that first flight of 120 feet – less than the wingspan of most airliners.

If there’s something you want, a burning dream that won’t go away, don’t hold back just because others have failed. In 61 years on this planet, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a Rolls Royce driving down the street. But I’ve seen thousands of Ford Pintos. Does that mean only a handful of people want a Rolls? Or does it mean only a handful were willing to get one?

Opportunity knocks, but it doesn’t stand there pounding on the door until you turn off the TV, get out of your recliner, grab a drink, and make your way slowly to the door. It knocks once and then moves on. Meanwhile, you go back to the recliner waiting for a better opportunity to come along. And as you’re getting comfortable, somebody else is that much closer to your dream.

Don’t judge your possibilities by other people’s failures. You can succeed where others simply quit trying. You just have to want it more.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Plan for Tomorrow – It’ll Get Here Sooner Than You Think

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

For the first time in months, I made it through the weekend without a trip to the grocery store. That doesn’t happen very often. And don’t get me wrong – when we need groceries, I like to go along. But I guess we’ve been stocking up over the past several weeks, so there’s really nothing we needed at the time. Again, that doesn’t happen very often.

Some things you can’t stock up ahead of time. Milk has an expiration date that you can’t really ignore. With other things, expiration dates are more of a suggestion. I’m not sure if there’s a shelf-life on macaroni noodles, but I’d feel pretty safe throwing them in boiling water after the expiration date. Yogurt, on the other hand, is a little more testy. When the foil lid is bulging, it’s about to open itself.

My mom always kept extra dry foods and canned goods in an outdoor pantry. When it became evident my dad’s employer was about to go under, she began stocking things up to make sure they’d be able to ride out any periods of unemployment. It was a smart move. Until one of the neighbors helped themselves to most of what was in the cabinet. But that’s another story.

There’s a reason farmers have silos full of grain that they won’t need until next year. It’s the same reason we save money, or at least try to, when we have a little extra. Or that we carry an umbrella in the car on sunny days. It’s about having what you need when the need arises. Or, as the saying goes, dig the well before you get thirsty. You know the need will be there someday. So, plan for it.

There have been more than a few times in my life when I’ve been caught off-guard with a job loss or an unexpected expense. We like to think we can plan for the future, but in all honesty, the future just gets a good laugh out of that. If you think you’ve got all your ducks in a row, it’s like a challenge to the gods to throw you a knuckle ball. And believe me, they will.

That’s why batters wear a helmet. Odds are they can stand at the plate five hundred times and never get hit with a fastball. But it only takes one wild pitch to really mess up your day. And when that pitch is coming in at 90 mph, they don’t have time to run back to the dugout and grab a helmet. So, they put that helmet on just in case.

Have you ever been driving to work and somebody decides to take your spot in the road? It happens all the time. And hopefully we’re alert enough to avoid an accident and get to work with nothing more than an elevated heart rate. But what if we weren’t able to take evasive action quickly enough? What if, instead of another car, it was a dump truck? That can really mess up your day.

And it can turn your whole life around in an instant. Last year, when I found out I needed brain surgery, it brought home a reality none of us ever wants to think about. In my case, it was relatively minor (something to do with the size of my brain, or so I’m told), but it could have been a life-altering event. And it’s not like I planned for it ahead of time. It just happened.

It’s a good feeling knowing you’ve got things pretty well under control, but in a lot of ways, that’s just an illusion. What it means is you’re controlling the things you can control, but with everything else you’re just along for the ride. And, like a rollercoaster, the track can take a sudden turn downward and there’s nothing you can do but hang on for dear life.

I guess that’s why I’ve always tried to maintain some kind of second income. It’s not much, and certainly not enough to live on. But when the chips are down, a little here and a little there can add up quickly. Especially if it’s something you can do from home, without any strenuous effort. The doctor only says you can’t drive or lift more than ten pounds. That leaves a lot of possibilities.

We never know when life may turn on a dime and leave us scrambling just to maintain what we’ve got. It’s nice to kick back in a recliner and let life go by without us. But there may be a day when we’ll wish we’d put some of that time to better use, or we’ll think of all those opportunities we let slip by.

Put on the helmet now, before you stare down a wild pitch. Set something aside for a rainy day. Take another look at those opportunities. Maybe you’ll never need any of those things. But what if you do?

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Never Get Anywhere by Playing it Safe

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

We often find ourselves in a place where things aren’t going quite the way we’d planned. That may be due to no real fault of our own, but as I’ve mentioned before, when we sit still the world moves past us. Before long, we find ourselves sitting in the same place with no momentum and that much further behind. We can catch up, but it’ll take a lot more effort than if we’d just kept moving in the first place.

It happens on the job, where demands change and what we were hired to do no longer meets the “needs of the company.” It happens in relationships where people grow, and we don’t always grow along with them. And it happens in life, where time never stands still and every year, we find ourselves with one year less to accomplish our goals.  

That last one has been on my mind a lot. In two months, I’ll reach the age of “early retirement.” That’s where the government says you can start drawing Social Security, but only if you don’t make any real money on the side. In another four and a half years, I’ll reach the age of full retirement. I won’t go into what that entails, except to say I’m not where I wanted to be by this point.

I think we all face that sooner or later. You wake up one morning and realize you’re not where you wanted to be on the corporate ladder. You drive past an area of nicer homes and remember when that was your dream. Or winter comes along and you repeat your annual pledge that by this time next year, you’ll be living someplace warm. You know, the same one you repeated last year.

And through all of it, you have to admit the reality that you’re where you are because this is where you’ve worked to be. It may not be exactly where you wanted to end up, but I think we can all admit we’ve left a little on the table in that regard and taken a breather when we could have done just a little more. All those undone things keep stacking up until one day, we have to pay the piper.

I know there are things in my past that I could have done differently. And when I look back, what stands out the most aren’t the risks I took where the outcome wasn’t quite what I’d hoped, but the opportunities I passed up or simply didn’t work to their full advantage. There’s some level of risk in everything, but risk alone doesn’t stop us from moving forward – it’s fear that stands in our way.

We’ve all heard the expression, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” A baseball field has three places where a player can stand safely and wait for an opportunity to advance. Oh, they may taunt the pitcher by stepping out a little, but let the pitcher turn their way and they take a dive in the dirt, back to the safety of their base. They’re stuck in that position unless somebody else gets lucky.

And you know, after you’ve hit the ball and raced as fast as you can to beat the odds, it’s nice to be standing safely on base. But you can’t stand there forever. Sooner or later, you either have to move forward or wait for everyone else to fail so you can put on your glove and take up a position where your only mission in life is to keep somebody else from advancing.

Sure, people may remember that magnificent diving catch that prevented somebody else from getting on base, but in baseball there are no real statistics to reflect how many times you caught a fly ball. All anybody cares about is your batting average – how many times did you swing and hit the ball far enough to get on base?

We all face opportunities to hit that ball. Every time you step up to the plate, there’s one thing you can count on – there will be a pitch coming, and it’ll be coming fast. We can either watch as that opportunity sails past or do something about it. The choice we make in that instant will determine whether we bring the crowd to its feet or take that lonely walk back to the dugout.

Sure, you may swing and miss. But you’ll never hit anything with the bat resting comfortably on your shoulder.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Opportunity Knocks, But Only if the Door is Open

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

Sometimes, when you’re looking for solutions to a problem, things begin to appear out of thin air. At least that’s the way it feels. You know what you think you need, but something you never really considered comes along and says, “Here – try me.” It may be something very familiar, or something completely out of the blue. You just never know.

Yesterday morning, as I was starting my day, I got a completely unexpected email offering me some ongoing freelance work for the next several months. It’s work I’ve done before, and for a company and team with whom I truly enjoy working. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Anybody who’s ever applied for a military career has taken the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB as it’s known. It’s a long test full of questions designed to identify your ideal vocations. At the end, they give you some recommended options from which to choose. And the whole time you’re thinking, “Who wrote these questions???” Well, that would be me.

I first stumbled across this opportunity several years ago when my contract ended in a previous job. Unemployment will get you busy, and there’s no telling what you’ll turn up. And in all honesty, most of it is garbage. I’ll never forget the guy who wanted me to write a federal grant proposal so he could get the money to save a few acres of hunting land in a divorce. I wish I was making that up.

But somewhere through all of that, I came upon the opportunity to write a series of questions relating to general shop knowledge – wood shop, metal shop, etc. That blossomed into writing for four different sections of the test, and when the assignment was over, they promised I’d hear from them again. More than 1,000 questions later, they still reach out to me every time they get a new contract.

So, I guess you could say this one didn’t literally just drop out of the air. I have a history with this company, and it’s paid off well. But if I had never gone looking for freelance work that first time, I’d have never heard about the new opportunity today. They’d have found somebody else years ago who could do the job just as well, and that’s who would have gotten the call this time.

It’s hard to tell sometimes exactly what will grow when you plant a seed. But if you never went looking for a seed in the first place, the answer is weeds – because, in my experience, weeds are perennial and grow in every square inch of ground that doesn’t have something else growing in it. The best way to avoid weeds is to choke them out with the good stuff.

Sometimes, the best things in life take the longest to cultivate. I read that a cherry seed can take up to 100 years to germinate and begin to grow. In that length of time, it’s likely the grower will have gotten impatient and planted a dozen other things right next to it. But sooner or later, a stalk with a few little leaves will begin to emerge and grow into a magnificent hardwood specimen.

It works that way with relationships, jobs, business ideas, and any number of things we really want. But unless you go looking for a seed in the first place, there’s nothing to plant and nothing to cultivate. And in its absence, weeds will grow. The most beautiful sprawling lawn was once an undeveloped eyesore. Somebody had to see its potential beauty long before it began to show.

If there’s something you want to do, something you’d like to improve, or something you think you’d like to drop out of thin air when you need it the most, now is the time to start planting those seeds. If we wait until we’re hungry to plant a garden, we’ll be eating dirt for several months before anything good comes up. Dig the well before you get thirsty. Find the solution before you have the need.

We can’t take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way. But make no mistake, if we don’t take a chance on any of them, we’ll find fewer new opportunities coming along behind them. Opportunity favors those who seek it. It only knocks if the door is open and the lights are on. But if you close the door and turn off the lights, it’ll just move on to somebody who wants it more.

Plant those seeds. Put a little faith in something that may not look so awesome on the surface. The most radiant diamond was once a chunk of coal. If you open your eyes and your mind, there’s a diamond in the rough right there in front of you. All you have to do is pick it up and do something to really make it shine.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

There Will Only Be One “Today”

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

Well, it’s a new month and, for those of us in the US who just got a badly needed holiday, it’s the beginning of a new (and slightly shortened) week. I love three-day weekends. I just don’t necessarily love the four days at work that follow. I’ve always said that when you get to skip a Monday, you get four more to make up for it. Hopefully this week will be the exception.

I don’t know why we dread Mondays so much. Yes, it means the end of the weekend and heading back to work. But, if we did the weekend even slightly right, we’re going back somewhat rested and refreshed. If not, we may want to take a closer look at how we spend our weekends. But the point is, this should be the time of week when we’ve got the most energy for a day at work.

It’s also the time when we’ve got the most leftover energy to tackle some of our own goals. If there’s anything you’ve been planning to do for yourself outside of work, earlier in the week is generally better. Not only do you have more energy, but if things don’t work out one day, you still have a few more to go. The later we get into the week, the fewer chances we’ll have to do those things.

We go to work every day. We don’t really even question it, because that’s just the way it is. We can say we don’t have a choice in the matter, but we do. It just comes down to priorities. And over the course of our lives, few things will take a higher priority than work. If you don’t believe me, quit. Better still, just try to imagine it. Some things are better experienced in the mind.

There have been a few times in my life when I was unemployed. Like the time I found out my job was seasonal, but nobody had explained that little detail in the beginning. As a contract employee, you learn to plan for the inevitable “job’s done – thanks!” And the last time, it was because the company hired a new CEO who decided to cut our division completely. It happens.

And when it does, you immediately kick into high gear looking for something else. You think back to all those positions you’d applied for in the past and quickly check to see if they’re hiring. You put your resume on the job boards and check your email several times a day. Meanwhile, you look for any little thing you can do to cut expenses and bring in just a little bit of income to hold you over.

It’s amazing how creative and energetic we can be when the need is there. And the more urgent the need, the more we try to take advantage of every possible opportunity at our disposal. Then we find a new job and that first paycheck arrives. Whew! That was a close one! Now you can breathe a little easier and get back to normal. If you’ve ever been in that position, you know exactly what I mean.

The only problem is, “normal” isn’t exactly the best place to be. Because normal means you’re back in the same position you were in previously. You may have a better, more secure job with lots of room for growth. But at the end of the day, you’re still entrusting your financial well-being on somebody else’s ability and willingness to keep you employed.

Now, let me ask you a question. If you found yourself suddenly looking for a new job, or just needing an immediate inflow of extra money, would you prefer to wait until the need is there to do something about it? Or do you think maybe you’d want to keep your eyes open to new opportunities while things are going well? You know, think about the solution before the need arises.

If there’s something you want to do for yourself, don’t let opportunities slip by. If a rainy day will get in the way, take advantage of the sunny days. If you know other things will eventually consume your time, work around them. Take care of your own priorities now, before those other things demand your attention.

There are seven days in a week. Nothing we can do will ever change that. And every time we let a day or even a moment of opportunity slip past, it’s gone. Make the most of those opportunities now and when other things get in the way, you’ll be that much further ahead.

Today will be over before you know it. And there may come a point where you’ll look back at today and wish you’d spent that time more wisely. If that’s even a remote possibility, do something about it now. There will always be other priorities and demands on your time. You can’t change that. All you can change is what you do with each moment along the way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved