What’s Holding You Back?

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is starting off well.

Every day as I come home from work, there’s this young boy about a block down the street who’s always outside riding an electric motorcycle. He started on a tricycle, and then moved up to a bicycle, and now something that pedals itself. And if he can find a way to rig up a trailer behind it, he’s in heaven. I wish I could count the number of different tag-alongs I’ve seen that boy hook up to his bike.

Every time you drive past, he smiles and waves like you’re his best friend. He always has. A couple of times when he was headed the other direction, I started to tap the horn so he could see me wave. But all that would do is let the rest of the neighbors know there was a car on the street blowing its horn. He can’t hear a thing. He’s spent his entire life in complete silence.

He’s got some other physical limitations – I’m not really sure the extent of them, but he’s faced an uphill challenge since birth. Not that you’d ever know by watching him cruise up and down the street, smiling and waving at every car that passes. I’m not even sure he knows. How do you explain sound to a person who’s never heard one? To us it’s a handicap. To him, it’s just another day.

I first became aware of him years ago when our neighbors adopted his family for Christmas. He was about three at the time, and the family was facing some huge medical expenses relating to his condition. He had some kind of nasal tube along with some other apparent problems. I remember wondering if he’d ever see his fifth birthday, much less his tenth.

I would guess he’s 11 or 12 now. At my age, the years go by pretty fast, so I’m not completely sure. But watching him grow over the years, you’d have never known he had any kind of limitation at all because nothing seems to hold him back. His parents allowed him to live like any other boy his age, and he’s made the most of it. I look at him now and wonder what he’ll accomplish next.

I don’t know what goes on inside his house, or the things his parents have taught him. But I have to imagine words like “limitation” and “handicap” are never part of the conversation. I’m pretty sure nobody has told him what a rotten hand he was dealt in life. For all he knows, he’s just like everybody else. And because of that, he is.

We’re all born with some level of imperfection. And, as we grow older, we pick up a few more along the way. But they’re only handicaps to the extent that we allow them to get in the way. I’ve seen people with artificial legs run an obstacle course that would bring most star athletes to their knees. And I’ve known blind people who can see so much more than most of us ever will.

It’s all a matter of belief. If you believe you’re incapable of anything, you can cross it off the list of things you’ll ever accomplish. You can tell by the way a baseball player swings his bat whether he believes he can hit the ball. If you believe you can hit a home run, you swing for the fence. If you expect to strike out, you swing without energy or interest. Why bother? You’ll just fail anyway.

It’s that mindset that keeps us from doing the things we could be doing in life. It’s the feeling that we can’t do something, or maybe that we can never do it as well as anybody else. You know, “normal” people. Or maybe we look at the things we’d like to accomplish and think we need superpowers to even come close. There’s a reason “ordinary” people like us never succeed. Or so we think.

It’s been said that behind every successful man is a completely astonished wife. That may be true, but there’s another side to the story … the man who set out to prove to his wife and the rest of the world that he could succeed against all odds.

If you’ve ever accomplished anything in life, it began with the belief that you could do it. That’s not to say you didn’t have some concerns or maybe even a little trepidation. We only need enough confidence to get us started. The rest we can build as we go.

A limitation is only a handicap if we allow it to become one. We can allow it to become an excuse, or simply another mountain to climb. That young man down the street doesn’t know he’s got a handicap, probably because nobody told him. So, what’s holding you back? Believe you can succeed, and you will. And just think of all the people you’ll amaze along the way!  

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You’re Not Driving, You’re Just Along For the Ride

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

The weekend is over, and it’s back to the grind. I hope you did at least a few things for yourself this weekend, in the midst of all those other things you have to do. It’s funny how the boss thinks we all go home on Friday evening and just sit around and rest all weekend. That doesn’t happen very often, and usually when it does, it’s because we’re too sick to do anything else.

I spent my weekend trying to regroup from a setback that threatens to undermine a lot of what I’ve worked to accomplish, and to refocus my mind on the next steps moving forward. It happens to us all, and it can make you feel the weight of the world come crashing down. We can let these moments define us, or we can use them to redefine ourselves. This is where we find out what we’re made of.

Things rarely go just right. Life is a series of ups and downs and, like the world’s most thrilling rollercoaster, some of those ups and downs are a lot bigger than others. But without those scary drops, we’d never have the momentum to make it up the next climb. And, as any coaster enthusiast knows, when the track flattens out, it means the ride is just about over.

I’m not sure I every want my track to flatten out. Sure, I could do without some of the death-defying twists and turns along the way, but without them life would be pretty boring. The thrill comes from facing those terrifying situations and standing tall on the other end. Without any of those steep drops and twisting inversions, the line for a rollercoaster would be pretty short.

The reason we enjoy things like that so much is because, no matter how scary the ride appears, we know deep down it’s not nearly as dangerous as it looks. We may get bumped around a little, and we may get dizzy at times. We may even wish we’d skipped the churro dog and dumpster fries we ate right before we got in line. But there’s little doubt we’ll make it safely to the end.

It’s that way with almost everything we face in life. With very few exceptions, there’s nothing we’ll ever face that doesn’t present at least the possibility of a positive outcome. And, more often than not, the odds of a successful outcome are much greater than we think. It’s all in how we approach those situations. We can take control, or simply go along for the ride.

And if you already know where the ride is headed, the option of just sitting quietly in the passenger seat becomes a simple question of whether the destination is someplace you want to go. On a rollercoaster, you’re at the mercy of the ride’s designers. You go where the track leads, every single time. Once you’re strapped in, there’s no turning back.

But in most of the things we face in life, we don’t have to just sit there and go along for the ride. At any moment, we can slide into the driver’s seat, take the wheel, and either correct an errant path or choose an entirely different destination. The choice is ours to make. And sometimes, it’s only when our primary choice goes away that we can clearly see all the other options we’ve been missing.

It can feel scary. It can feel dangerous. But some of life’s greatest achievements come from moments of desperation, when we have to either stand up and fight or lay down and quit. And in those moments, the kiddie cars may seem a lot safer than hopping back on a rollercoaster. But in the end, it’s just a much slower and less exciting way to end up right back where you started.

Just this weekend, I read a quote in “The Magic of Thinking Big” that fits this situation perfectly … “I’d rather burn out than rust out.”  I read those words several times, and their meaning set in deeper every time. I’ve seen where the “safe” road lead. There’s very little risk, but there’s also very little excitement. We can stare at a mountain all day, or we can climb up and see what’s on the other side.

Life is an amusement park. It’s got everything from park benches in the shade to the most death-defying rides known to man. Some people ride, and others watch from the sidelines. And others just sit on that park bench and as they eat the world’s most expensive ice cream and watch life completely pass them by. At the end of the day, they’ll all end up right back where they started.

You’ll face challenges. There’s no doubt about that. And some of those challenges will scare the daylights out of you. The question is, do you close your eyes and hold on for dear life, or do you throw your hands in the air and yell “rock and roll” the whole way down?

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Adversity Builds the Skills That Make Success Possible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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