It’s Never a Problem if You’re Ready For It

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

Today I slept a little later than normal. That happens when you don’t use an alarm clock. I still woke up with plenty of time to get the day started. I just had to change things up a little. It’s like stepping in the shower and finding out you’re out of shampoo. You improvise. Body wash isn’t the ideal way to clean your hair, but it works in a pinch.

No, I didn’t run out of shampoo. I always keep a spare bottle on hand because I know how that works. You can feel that the bottle is getting a little lighter, but every time you pick it up, there’s still more. In fact, a lot more than you’d thought. Then one day you give the bottle a squeeze and it makes that disgusting bodily sound that never fails to get me in trouble at dinnertime. Or any other time. I’m just saying.

So, you reach for the spare and toss the old bottle aside. If you’re lucky, you remember to throw that one in the trash. Otherwise, you’ll find another reason I tend to get in trouble. Hey, it’s not my fault we don’t have a trash can next to the shower. And by the time I’ve opened the new bottle, the old one is a distant memory. There’s no eulogy or proper burial. Life just goes on.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. Something unexpected happens, something that could disrupt your day (or longer), but you still have other things to do. You can’t just bring everything to a grinding halt because one thing didn’t go as planned. You pick up the pieces, adapt, and get back into action. If it’s an empty shampoo bottle, it’s no big deal. Other things may require a little more effort.

There will always be something that doesn’t go according to plan. That’s why most cars have a spare tire in the trunk. Not all – apparently some of the newer ones don’t have a spare. Not even one of those little donut tires that’s good for 50 miles on baby-smooth road if you keep your speed to a turtle’s pace. But at that moment, you’d take anything reasonably round that’ll bolt onto the axle.

Do you keep spare light bulbs around the house, or do you run to the hardware store every time you flip the switch and nothing happens? Do you keep food in the pantry that you probably won’t eat this week? Do you buy an extra bottle of vitamins before you run out? Have you ever bought ten pieces of poster-board to get ahead of kids who never mention that school project till the night before it’s due?

Okay, I may be alone in that last one. But my grandson was notorious for coming up at 8:00 in the evening and telling us he had an assignment due the next day and if we didn’t run to the store and buy him a piece of poster-board, he wouldn’t be able to complete his assignment and it would be all our fault. I always loved that little shift of blame. Seriously?

And sure, I could have told him tough luck – take a zero, because you knew this assignment was due a week ago and didn’t say anything until now. But you know, it’s more fun to just hand him a clean piece of poster-board and say, “Here – now it’s all on you. Get to work.” I won’t say he learned a thing from that, but it still made me feel pretty resourceful.

Sometimes, we have to anticipate the unexpected and do something about it before the need arises. Take vitamins before you get sick. Eat sensibly while your favorite pants still fit. Save money when you have a little more than you need (does that EVER happen?) Check the air in that spare tire every now and then. And the next time you go to the store for a bottle of shampoo, pick up two.

In the movie “Road House” Patrick Swayze responded to a question about drunken bar patrons by saying, “People who go out looking for trouble usually aren’t a problem for somebody who’s ready.” Some of life’s greatest challenges are little more than an inconvenience if they don’t catch you completely unprepared. You may not expect them at that very moment, but at least you’re ready.

This isn’t to say you should go through life waiting for the sky to fall in. Enjoy each moment and make the most of it. A spare tire won’t keep you from any particular destination. But if something happens along the way, it’s nice to know the trip isn’t over. The Boy Scout motto is “be prepared.” Think ahead and you may never have to look behind. A challenge is only a problem if you’re not ready for it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Only a Crisis If You Didn’t See it Coming

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

I’ve often wondered what I would do if I got up in the morning and the coffee maker was broken. I know, if you’re a coffee drinker, that deserves an apology because it’s not a vision any of us wants to imagine. That rates right up there with flat tires and sitting down to the sound of the seat ripping out of your pants. At work. In a conference room. Full of the company’s top executives. Get the picture?

Thankfully, coffee makers don’t usually just quit all at once. You get a little advance warning. It starts brewing really slowly, it makes funny noises, and you start seeing chunks of something that doesn’t look like coffee grounds in the bottom of your cup. If that happens, run – don’t walk – to the nearest coffee maker store. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself without coffee when you need it the most.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. You fall into a comfort zone where things are going well, and the thought of an abrupt change is the last thing on your mind. But it happens, and usually when you expect it the least. And it can require immediate action to avoid an even bigger mess. A lot of times, the outcome is largely dependent on our ability to act quickly at the first sign of trouble.

Rarely does anything go seriously wrong without at least some advance signs of trouble. Usually, we think about those signs after the wheel falls off the car and realize there was a noise we couldn’t quite identify, or a little extra sway in turns. It’s easy to write it off and just keep driving. But sooner or later, the problem will demand our attention. And the longer we wait, the more expensive it gets.

I have to take my car in for repairs this morning. I can’t quite describe the noise coming from the front end other than to say it sounds like I’m pushing a bulldozer blade down the road. And my car doesn’t have a bulldozer blade, so that’s probably not normal. And, thinking back, it’s been making little noises for a few weeks. I ignored those warnings, so now it’s shouting them at full volume.

But this isn’t really about coffee pots or cars. It’s about life. Because all through our life, things change. Relationships falter, the bank sends a foreclosure notice, the doctor walks in with bad news, or you find out you need a new job – like now. Any one of these things, or dozens of others, can throw you right out of your comfort zone and into full-blown survival mode.

It can hit you like a ton of bricks, but more often than not, there were signs of trouble long before the sky fell in. Those signs may have been subtle, or they may have like a red flashing light, something you couldn’t have missed with your eyes half-closed. But it’s easy to ignore those initial warning signs until they start screaming at us. By then, comfort has turned to crisis and we have no choice but to do something about it.

We talked earlier this week about creativity, and if you want to see creative thought in overdrive, put yourself in a crisis. You’ll dream up things you would never have thought of, simply because you don’t have any other choice. What you’ve been doing hasn’t worked, so now you have to do something different – maybe something you’ve never done before.

And most times, we look back later and wonder why we didn’t just do that in the first place. Maybe it was something so completely out of character, or out of our comfort zone, that it never really crossed our mind. And I’m not talking about anything immoral or illegal. Just a different approach that we never would have considered. But now, it’s the perfect fix. It’s the right thing at the right time.

Again, the change may be subtle, something you do without really batting an eye. It can also be something monumental that takes a complete leap of faith into the unknown. Or it could be something in between, where we have the option to make the easier move or to put it all on the line and make it work. Notice I didn’t say “hope for the best” – it’s all or nothing.

If we take notice at the first sign of impending trouble, we can usually avoid a crisis. And if we assess our options before they have to become choices, we can move in the direction we choose rather than the direction in which we’re pushed. A minor course correction may be all that’s needed, if we do it early enough. The goal never really changes – just the path you’ll follow to get there.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day and a fantastic weekend!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved