Take A Bow – You’ve Earned It!

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

The other day, my daughter had an especially challenging day with her little ones. They’re 15 months apart, and the oldest is in kindergarten, so you can fill in the blanks. Some days one is good and the other makes up for it, and the next day they switch. But every now and then, they put their minds together in a seek and destroy mission on the sanity of any adult in the house.

Now, take that and put it on steroids, and that’s the kind of day she had. At one point, she just sat at the bottom of the stairs in tears. She’d had all she could handle. My granddaughter, sensing her anguish, went to her and in the sweetest voice said, “Mommy, we’ve decided we should apologize to you for him making me do that.” Folks, that’s about as good as it gets.

I raised two daughters, and the one thing I can tell you is they never do anything wrong, at least not on their own. It was always somebody else’s fault. As Erma Bombeck observed, when the kids are upstairs and things don’t seem right, ask the girls what they’re doing and they’ll say, “Nothing.” Ask the boys and it’s, “We just threw the cat down the stairs and it was neat!”

Don’t get me wrong. I love girls. I raised two, and I still have a mostly full head of hair. It’s gray, mind you … completely. But I wear that as a badge of honor. Still, with two grandsons, I can definitely see a difference. Boys are a little less emotional about getting into trouble. They’ll confess to just about anything. Unless they get into politics, and then all bets are off.

I think as a parent, one of the things I tried to instill in my daughters the most was a sense of accountability. Not responsibility – that just means you were supposed to do something, and you didn’t. But accountability means the buck stops here. It means I screwed up and I’ll take the heat for it. Nobody made me do it – I did it all on my own. Now, can I have my phone back?

Accountability also works the other way. It means, “I did the work. While everybody else was out playing, I made the sacrifices and I made this happen. I’ve earned the reward.” That’s a hard pill for most of us to swallow. It sounds self-indulgent, and nobody likes a showoff. If you blew it, we expect a detailed commentary ending in a formal apology. Otherwise, keep it to yourself.

And I think that’s why so many people have a problem with success. Oh, we love winning. We just have a problem with the entitlement that goes with it. “Well, things just worked out, I guess. It could have just as easily gone the other way. I just got lucky.” That last one is my personal favorite. It implies that you did nothing to influence the outcome – it just happened.

We expect accountability from our kids when they step out of line, and hopefully we’re leading by example. “Well, kids, we have to move. The bank is taking the house because I lost my job. It’s not my fault the boss can’t handle a little criticism. He needs to toughen up!”

Most of us do a better job than that. And I doubt we’d accept such an excuse from one of our kids. We need to teach them a sense of accountability. We need to instill a sense of humility as well. But we should also teach them that it’s okay to be proud of their accomplishments. And that begins by allowing ourselves to feel a little pride as well.

We’ll never work very hard to accomplish anything if it doesn’t give us some sense of fulfillment. To accomplish great things, you must first accept that you are deserving of great things. We can be gracious and proud at the same time. And it’s the combination of those two characteristics that will set a positive example for others as they also celebrate your success.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Step Over It, Somebody Will Step In It

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off just right.

It’s Hump Day, and that means the week is half-over. I have to admit, I’m a little proud of the fact that in 10 straight weeks of not having a day job, I’ve never once forgotten what day it was. Funny, when I was working that happened a lot. Most weeks, Thursday came at least twice, along with the disappointment that it was only Tuesday.

Mom always used to say, “Stop wishing your life away.” That was usually in response to my anticipation of attaining a certain age where life would magically be wonderful and all the problems of being six would somehow disappear. “I can’t wait till I’m old enough to drive!” Remember that? Yeah. Turns out Mom was pretty excited about that as well.

With all those new freedoms come new responsibilities. In layman’s terms, additional chores. I still had to clean the carport every time it got messy. Only now, I had to go to the store to buy trash bags. “And since you’re going there anyway …” For a month or two, that was fun. After a while, I began to realize I’d been played. We all were. It’s just part of growing up.

That’s why I wasn’t very patient when one of my daughters would complain about having to help around the house. “I only used one plate! Why do I have to clean them all? And I didn’t leave that dust on the kitchen cabinets!” I’m pretty sure we all handled those objections the same way, with an air of compassion and respect. “Because I said so, that’s why!”

With each trip around the sun, we become more and more aware of the fact that we all share this planet together. And since there aren’t enough houses to go around, some of us have to share those as well. As a family, we all contribute somewhat to the mess. So, it only seems fair that the youngest has to clean it up. That gives them the motivation to graduate and move on.

Okay, I’m having a little fun here. As members of a household, we should all contribute to making our house a home. That means cleaning up after other people, cooking meals we don’t plan to eat, and washing dishes we didn’t use. It also means allowing others to voice an opinion and showing them the same respect we so fervently demand. Just like the Golden Rule says.

The same is true once we step outside the front door. On the job, we’re often asked to clean up messes we didn’t create. We do things knowing the boss will get most of the credit, unless it blows up in their face, in which case we’ll catch the blame. That’s just part of life. But it’s not about glory or blame. It’s about getting the job done and making life better for everyone.

It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child. And, having started life in a small town, I can attest to that. If you dared to wander on the wrong side of the tracks (literally), you can bet somebody would see you and pick up the phone. “Aren’t you Mary Glardon’s boy? I wonder if she knows what you’re doing!” If I had a dime for every time I heard that.

When I was about six, Dad was out of town for a couple of weeks and my uncle brought a pistol to the house for our protection. Mom wanted no part of it. Not realizing it was a real gun, I picked it up and shot a hole in the wall. Dad found out about it before he even got home. As he stopped into the bank to make a deposit, the teller commented, “I hear that boy of yours is a crack shot!”

Okay, that was nothing but small-town gossip with no beneficial intent. But there were other times when people sensed trouble and stepped in to help. Like when Ricky Brace decided to pound me after we got off the school bus. A man I’d never met stepped through the crowd and pulled us apart. My face was black and blue for a month. I never got to thank that man.

Every day, we’re surrounded by messes we didn’t create. Some are more serious than others, but none of them will get any better until somebody steps in to help. It could be as simple as straightening the door mat at a store entrance to keep an elderly shopper from tripping over it. And it could be as life-changing as pulling somebody from a burning home. You just never know.

Yes, it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a family to make a home, it takes employees to run a business, and it takes all of society to build a nation. We all contribute in one way or another. The question is, will we pitch in, or wait for somebody else to do it for us?

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You’re Never Too Old to Dream

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

It’s been a busy week for me. Sometimes it works that way. Usually when the boss is out of town, but hey … that’s the way it goes. The bottom line is I get to come home at the end of the day knowing I did something productive. At my age, that’s a lot more important than brownie points.

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line I hit that point where my goals shifted from advancement and recognition to just doing a good job and leaving the place better than I found it. I think we all reach that point sometime in our work and personal life. For some of us, it just happens a lot sooner than others.

I talk to a lot of people who, when you suggest building something that can provide a little better security in retirement, and maybe even let them reach that point a few years earlier than they would have, they shake their head and say, “At my age …” What follows is some variation of “I’m too old to start something new” or “I’m happy with things just the way they are.”

What that means, in so many words, is, “People my age don’t have dreams.” Well, yeah, they do. We all do. We just may not spend much time thinking about them. But the most active retiree still has things they want to do, or places they want to see. And I don’t care how much money they’ve got, they probably wish they had a little more.

We naturally gravitate toward things that bring pleasure. Advertisers know that all too well. That’s why in vacation commercials, you only see families snorkeling over the Great Barrier Reef or enjoying a candle-lit dinner in a mountain lodge. You never see them waiting in line for tickets, enduring a body search at the airport, or crammed into a coach seat for six hours.

Part of the problem is that, when we’re younger, we want all the nice things and we want them right now. Sure, saving a portion of our paycheck would get us there eventually, but the credit card company says we don’t have to wait. We just have to take an even bigger portion of our check to pay the bill long after the fun is over or the new car smells like old cheeseburgers.

I did the same thing, so I won’t lecture anybody on financial responsibility. But, having done it both ways, I have to admit there’s a lot more excitement in saving for something you want than paying for it once you’ve got it. It’s like the difference between building something and then having to repaint it – every month until there’s nothing left to repaint.

As we get older, we realize that all those days of spending on whatever we wanted may have created some fun times along the way, but it may not have been overly responsible. And that’s when it hits – responsibility. The dreaded “R” word. It makes Mom and Dad proud, but to the rest of the world it simply means you’ve grown old.

That’s when we start saying things like, “Why do I need a new car? The old one still runs.” “A bigger house would be nice, but it’s just that much more to clean.” “I’d love to go to Tahiti, but who wants to sit on a plane that long?” Sure, the excuses make sense. But at the end of the day, they’re just validation of the fact that we stopped acting on our dreams.

I think a lot of that is the wisdom of age, realizing that money really doesn’t grow on trees and whatever we spend today won’t be there tomorrow. Part of it is the reality that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we’ll retire and have to live on whatever we’ve been able to save. And part is just the fact that, as we age, a quiet evening on the porch holds a lot more value than it used to.

But part of it is that, as we get older, we give up our ability to dream. We’re no longer looking at a lifetime to enjoy whatever we begin building today. The appeal of a vacation every month yields to the lure of relaxing by the fireplace. And the excitement of new things turns to the cold, hard calculation of how much it costs and all the other things that money could be used for.

It’s one thing to become responsible, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams. So, what if you’ll only have a few years to enjoy what you’ve built? Doesn’t that beat not enjoying it at all? Dreams represent hope. And the longer you have hope, the longer you truly live. That alone should be worth the time you spend standing in line.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved