Close, But No Cigar!

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

So, last Thursday my wife and I finally got our first Covid vaccine. Yes, we’re a little late, given our age, but we’re traveling and that adds a bit of complexity. Still, we got it done, without any bad effects, and now I can reassure others that I’ve been vaccinated. Okay, half-vaccinated. We still have another shot to go. But that’s just a formality, right?

Actually, no. It’s not just a formality. It’s an important part of the treatment that more than doubles our immunity to the virus. That doesn’t mean we’ll never get sick. It just means we’re that much less likely to contract the virus and, if we do, it should be somewhat less intense. That’s comforting.

My wife would be the first to say I’m good at getting started, but I tend to fall down before I reach the finish line. Apparently, we don’t entirely agree on the notion of “close enough.” My backyard shed is a perfect example. My grandson and I built it from scratch and it’s beautiful. Well, it will be once I finish installing the trim. C’mon, it’s only been four years!

There’s just that part of my brain that says when something is usable, the pressure is off. I ripped up all the carpet in our house and replaced it with laminate flooring. It looks great! Well, it will once I finish installing the trim. I had to remove the baseboards to get the job done, and half are still missing. C’mon, it’s only been twelve years! Wow, did I say that out loud?

Yesterday we talked about those baby steps, and that any progress toward a goal is something to be celebrated. But we also acknowledged that time is not a completely unlimited resource, and if we hope to accomplish our goal by a certain time, we may need to speed things up a bit. At my age, I need a jet pack.

There are times when “close enough” is truly close enough. The game of horseshoes relies heavily on this concept. Steering a mammoth container ship through the Suez Canal – not so much. That one has to be exact. And they pretty much expect you to finish what you started. You can’t stop halfway through and say, “Yeah, but look how far we got!”

We’d never think of using that on the job. When the boss gives us an assignment, they pretty much expect us to finish it. Trim isn’t optional. And, while they may appreciate the progress we’ve made and how hard we worked to get there, the job still isn’t done. And that’s what they’ll remember when it comes time for our annual review.

So, here’s the question – if you were paying somebody else to accomplish your own personal goals, how long would they be employed if they worked at those goals as hard as you do? That’s a tough one to bite off, because for most of us, the answer is “not long.” But hey, you gave it an honest effort and that’s worth something, right?

Well, it depends. If my goal is to save a million dollars and I only save half that much, that’s pretty respectable. I don’t know of too many people who would hang their head in shame. On the other hand, if I needed the entire million to build my dream house, it’s not going to happen. I can either get back to work or ditch my plans and start over.

Yet, when it comes to our dreams, we allow ourselves a certain amount of leeway for coming up short. “I tried. And in the beginning, I was getting a lot done! But I just wasn’t able to make it happen.” You weren’t able, or you just didn’t follow through? There’s a difference.

Driving through the mountains is rarely up one side and down the other. You reach the top of first hill, only to see six more ahead of you. And there may be a dozen more behind them. Now, if your only goal was to climb one hill, you’re there. Mission accomplished. But if you wanted to reach the other side, you’ve still got some work to do.

That first step is critical, but it’s no more important than every other step along the way. There’s a starting line and a finish line, and you have to cross both before you can take a bow. Sure, goals sometimes change, and that’s okay if your dream has changed. But don’t short-change your dreams because there’s another hill to climb.

Somewhere along that mountain drive, you crest one final hill and see clear sailing ahead. At that point, all those hills behind you are a distant memory. But if you stop too soon, you may never know how close you came. Your dream deserves that extra mile. And you know what? So do you.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Thought May Not Always Count, But Baby Steps Do

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

My wife bought some freshly baked muffins a few days ago. According to the label, they were supposed to taste like Raisin Bran. I think they used a little poetic license there, because halfway through I hadn’t found the first raisin. I was just about to complain when I found it. One. It was hiding near the bottom, hoping I’d give up before I got that far.

It reminds me of when my grandson and I tore down my old shed. It was in really bad shape, and a decent puff of wind would have brought it to the ground. Okay, maybe not, because I actually prayed for that to happen. It would have saved a lot of work and, as it turned out, a nasty infection from stepping on a rusty nail.

But as I connected a nylon strap to the inside of the shed with the other end attached to my truck, my neighbor came out and asked what we were doing. “We’re building a new shed!” It felt good saying it. Then I handed my grandson the key and told him to have fun. Ten seconds later, the shed was on the ground. It was a year before the new one took its place.

I heard a story once about a woman who went to her high school reunion and, as others were bragging about their accomplishments, she said, “I’m working on my PhD!” A friend who knew better quietly reminded her that she dropped out of college. She responded, “I’ve thought about going back. It’s called fake it till you make it.”

So, what do these stories have in common? Well, just because the label mentions Raisin Bran, that doesn’t mean they used two scoops. Demolition is the first step in construction, so swinging a sledgehammer still counts. And finally, if you have a vision of something you’re thinking about doing, then technically it’s a work in progress. Right?

Well, let’s throw the first one out, because when I eat Raisin Bran, I expect at least one raisin in every bite. Anything that falls short of that standard is just false advertising. Besides, we bought some lemon-blueberry muffins yesterday and they were the real deal. Strong lemony flavor with fresh blueberries throughout. So, it can be done.

Is tearing something down the same as building something new? Well, that depends where the something new is going to be built. If it’s on the same piece of earth, then yes – you’ve begun the process, and it’s likely you can envision the end result. I know I did. For a whole year. I’m not so sure my neighbors were quite as thrilled.

Is telling people you’re doing something you’re not really doing a lie? Well, maybe. But again, let’s examine intent. Are you thinking seriously about it? Do you have a plan? Have you taken any steps in that direction? If so, it’s not completely untrue. I’m working on becoming a millionaire. I have been for 48 years. These things take time.

But every dollar I save is a dollar closer to my goal. Granted, I may need a few extra years to get there. More like a few extra decades, but you get the idea. If the goal is there and you’re taking steps to achieve that goal – even if it’s just getting up and going to work every day – you’re on a path to success.

Now, how long will it take you to get there? That’s another matter entirely. It’s easy to say I’m on a path to becoming a millionaire, but it’s also likely I won’t live to be 150. So, if I hope to achieve that goal in this lifetime, something has to change. I don’t need to share all those details with everybody, but I do have to acknowledge them myself.

When a lumberjack cuts down a tree, is he clearing the forest or building fine furniture? It all depends on your point of view. But if the tree has to come down first, and then be shipped to a lumber mill, and then to a lumber wholesaler, and then to a lumber store, and then to Joe’s wood shop, it’s all part of the process.

Be proud of the things you’re working to accomplish. Focus on the big picture. Celebrate every step along the way. You may not be there yet, but you’re a step closer and that’s something. Even those obstacles you were destined to face sooner or later are a form of progress, because now they’re behind you.

And if you’re still in the “thinking about it” stage, all it takes is one step to put that dream into motion. Granted, you may have to pick up the pace at some point, but as long as the goal is clear and you’re taking steps in that direction, you’re on the road to success. Throw in a few more raisins, and you’re there!

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What’s Your Backup Plan?

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

There was a commercial on the radio where a banker called for a man and his young son answered. The kid told the banker his dad had gone fishing. He bragged, “My dad is the world’s greatest fisherman. And neat, too!” The banker was intrigued. “Neat?” “Yep! Every time he comes home the fish are neatly wrapped in white paper just like they do at the fish store!”

I was never that creative when I went fishing. We’d get back to the dock, open the cooler, and take out the few fish we’d caught. If my wife commented about how small they were, I had a standard reply. “They must have shrunk in the ice.” Hey, it’s physics … I don’t make the rules.

Whether you call it creativity, forward thinking, or just plain lying, there’s something to be said for having a backup plan. Things won’t always go according to plan, so there’s nothing wrong with making sure there’s a seafood market on the way home. And make sure it’s open.

In my early twenties, a business owner introduced me to a word I’d never used before – diversify. In simple terms, it means not putting all your eggs in one basket. Of course, yesterday that was the name of the game as kids around the world ran around picking up brightly colored eggs. At least those are boiled. If you drop the whole basket, all they do is crack.

But when it comes to life and finances, it’s not always that simple. Find a stock that’s performing well and sink all your money into that one stock. As long as it keeps growing, you’ll make money. But what happens if the company goes under or the product suddenly becomes obsolete? Then you’re left holding a stack of worthless paper.

It works that way in the job market as well. You get an education, find a great job, and settle back into a life of relative comfort. Well, as comfortable as work can be. But having been on the receiving end of a few “restructuring initiatives” (that’s what they call it when they send you home), it’s a lot more comfortable having a job than not having one.

But life happens. And whether you’re talking about employment or the stock market or pretty much anything besides dating and marriage, it’s good to be invested in more than one thing just in case something falls through. In this day and age, you can pretty much count on it. And according to a guy named Murphy, it’ll always happen at the worst possible time.

Now, I’m not a real fan of Murphy, and to be honest, I’m not even sure he’s a real person. But Murphy’s Law is well-known to most of us: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible moment.” It’s a little pessimistic for my taste, but reality says we need to be prepared for those times when things don’t go as planned.

If you’re an investor, it means spreading your money around a bit. Sure, focus on the one that is making you the most money today, but always be on the looking for something additional. In the job market, it means keeping your resume up to date and networking with others in your profession just in case.

And unless you’ve reached a point where you could retire today with no additional sources of income, diversification is even more critical. The days of company-funded retirement are long gone. Social Security appears to be relatively safe for now, but who knows what the future holds? And if you think your 401(k) is safe, we need to talk.

The closer you get to retirement age, the less time you’ll have to recover from an unexpected scenario that wipes out or drastically reduces your income. Success in the stock market is a long-term strategy. And retirement plans go bankrupt just like anything else. Could you withstand a shock this late in the game? Most of us can’t.

And if you’re younger, that’s both good and bad. You have more time to get ready for retirement, but you’re also that much more likely to be called into HR with unpleasant news at some point. That’s not a reflection on you, but on employment in general. Job security isn’t what it used to be, and that’s not likely to change in our favor.

Bad things happen when we least expect it. Having a backup plan can make the difference between survival and bankruptcy. What’s your plan? Could you implement it on a moment’s notice? Or would it take a little time?

Diversification is insurance against disaster. It doesn’t mean you’ll never feel the pain of income loss, but it can certainly minimize that pain. Do it right, and you can match or even exceed your current income. Then your biggest problem is where to spend it.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Dreams Don’t Care Where You’ve Been

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

A couple of days ago, the container ship that had been blocking the Suez Canal was finally freed. Investigators will try over the next several months to determine how it got stuck in the first place, and attorneys will certainly offer their opinion. But I’ll bet nobody is as relieved as the guy who was standing at the helm when they hit the sand. “Starboard? Is that even a word? C’mon Captain … right or left???”

If you’ve never served aboard a ship, let me share some insight. The Captain doesn’t “drive” the ship. In fact, he’s probably never touched the steering wheel. It’s usually a junior crew member who didn’t have anything better to do at the time, so he got stuck at the helm taking orders from somebody else and will catch the blame the instant something goes wrong. “I told him hard to port!” Really? When?

A few days ago, there was a meme on social media showing a tiny excavator next to this massive ship, digging away handfuls of mud in an attempt to set it free. The caption said if you think there are unimportant people on this planet, remember that 12% of the global economy is in the hands of a guy who shovels dirt for a living. That puts it in perspective.

For every great feat of mankind, it’s the people in the trenches who make it happen. Elon Musk gets a lot of credit for electric cars and private spaceships, but I doubt he’s ever turned a wrench on any one of them. He comes up with an idea, pays others to develop the idea, and then pays even more people to do the grunt work. He may be a visionary, but he’s mostly just the rich guy at the top.

It’s said that 10% of the population controls 90% of the wealth. That’s true. In fact, it’s probably a little optimistic. And if you don’t believe that, look around you. Count the number of apartments you pass on your way to work, and then count the number of mansions. How many dump trucks do you see for every limousine? How many executives are there in your company? How many workers?

That’s why it’s so hard for those of us who spend our days in the trenches to imagine ourselves at the top. “Get an education, go to work, and climb the corporate ladder.” That’s the advice we’re given. And it’s good advice, if you’re a really patient person with dreams of mediocrity. But what happens when you realize your ladder is too short or is propped against the wrong wall?

A while back, I heard the story of a man from Central America who moved to New York City with barely enough money to live for a couple of weeks, and took a job parking cars while sleeping in an abandoned car every night to save money so he could eventually move his family to join him. He was a hard worker, but one of those people everybody overlooked. Until somebody found him sleeping in their car. I’m sure he moved a lot.

Still, he had a dream – he saw his family living with him in a home they owned. It was a simple dream, but one that burned within him every day. It got him up in the morning, prodded him to work hard all day, and gave him a reason to put his trust in a complete stranger who said, “I can help.” That stranger didn’t offer a handout – he offered a plan.

For most people, it would be hard to wake up every day in somebody else’s car and see ourselves living in a mansion. Especially in a strange country where we can barely speak the language. But that’s exactly how this story ends. He took a simple opportunity and applied it to his dream. Granted, that dream was modest at first – a home of his own. But in building that dream, he made even bigger dreams possible.

If you don’t think you have what it takes, you’re not seeing the big picture. Maybe you think you lack the education or skills. Maybe you’ve made some mistakes in the past. Maybe you were born poor, and on the wrong side of town. Or maybe you’ve worked your way up that ladder and think you’ve reached the highest point available to an “ordinary” person like you.

Ordinary people achieve extraordinary results. Success isn’t for the select few – it’s for anybody who has a dream and a burning desire to achieve it. It’s for those who will not be denied, who are willing to go that extra mile when everybody else is watching TV. Don’t define yourself by your spot on the ladder. See yourself where you want to be. Is it possible? Absolutely! Can it happen? Well, that part is up to you.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Are New Habits Covering Up the Good Ones?

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

I’m sitting here reading yesterday’s post, wondering how I went from headwinds and dust storms to income taxes and physical fitness. It was early, okay? Real early. I’m three time zones behind the rest of the folks at work, so I have to start my day while the roosters are still snoring. And that first day was a bear.

There was a time in my life when getting up this early was a roll of the dice where you need double 7s to win. If I had to be at the airport early, I stayed up all night to keep from missing my flight. Oh, I had an alarm clock. But when you’ve lived on an aircraft carrier, you’d be surprised what you can sleep through. General quarters? Call me back in an hour.

It’s been 20 years since I’ve used an alarm clock. That changed when I quit smoking. I guess there’s something to be said for the ability to exchange oxygen. Okay, I know … old people wake up a lot during the night. And when I reach that age, I’ll tell you how it works. For now, let’s just say I can wake up any time I want.

Throughout our lives, habits change. Some change because we made a conscious decision to change, and some just change on their own. Over the years, I’ve become a lot more mellow in traffic. My wife may not completely agree with that assessment, but I rarely flip anybody off these days. I save that for the absolute best of the jackasses. Is it my fault they still drive?

I don’t remember ever making a conscious decision to change that. It just happened. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and driving slower. Or maybe it’s because I finally realized I wouldn’t stand a chance in a real fistfight, and some people take this stuff way too seriously. I like to think I’m just learning to enjoy life a little more instead of focusing on the idiots.

Habits change when we stop doing something quite as often. That may start as a conscious decision, but sometimes we just let other things take up that space in our brain. I don’t have to focus on keeping my middle finger down if I simply wave at people instead. The new habit replaces the old with no real input on my part.

That’s good when it comes to habits we need to break. But what about the ones we should continue? You know, like kissing your significant other when you walk in the door. That’s an easy one to overlook, especially when you have a dog that greets you at the door wagging its whole body, just waiting for the chance to lick you in the face. Time to step up your game, dear!

Okay, I just took one for the team, because I’ll pay for that last statement. But you get the point. Sometimes, other things slip in and unintentionally obscure the habits we’ve formed. A good TV series comes on and takes the place of your evening walk. A new hobby gets in the way of your business aspirations. An early bedtime keeps you from reading a book (or writing one).

None of these were intentional decisions to eliminate a particular activity. Something else just came along and took its place. That’s when we need to re-examine our priorities and see how these new habits fit our current needs. And bear in mind, needs change. When you’re hungry, work comes easy. But when that stimulus check hits the bank, it’s just as easy to slack off.

It’s not hard to keep focus when we’re on the job. The boss frowns on watching daytime soaps in the middle of a team meeting. But when it comes to those things we do outside of work, the ones that are fueled by our own goals and dreams, there’s always something else competing for our attention. And that’s how good habits die.

So, take time every now and then to examine your habits. How have they changed over the years, or even since last month? Are the new habits getting you any closer to where you want to be? If so, then keep at it. You’re on the right track. But if other things have slipped in and obscured those habits you need to continue, then make the necessary corrections.

Habits can lead you closer to your dreams or keep you from them. Success is about forming and keeping the right habits, and filtering out anything that doesn’t fit. It’s okay to have a little fun along the way. Just don’t let the wrong habits sneak in and steal your dream. Prioritize. Make it count. You’re spending the time anyway, so why not spend it on something good?

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If A Mountain Pops Up, Go Around It

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

One of the pleasures of starting a new job is working through all the computer access issues. “Yeah, we must have missed that one.” After the fifth time, you start to wonder if they wouldn’t be better to just start over. I’m on a first-name basis with half the Help Desk staff, and my access is still hosed up. On a bright note, at least I’m being paid for it.

This isn’t really a “new” job … I’m working for the same company, but as a direct-hire instead of as a contractor. To complicate things further, I previously worked for this company until a little over a year ago, when they eliminated my position. So, now I have at least two, and possibly three, profiles in the system. That’s when it threw a fit. “Good God! One Dave is enough!”

Yesterday I was stressed. Today, it’s comical. And the funny thing is, this company thought they were saving money by eliminating my “unnecessary” position. They sent me home for 2-1/2 months, and then brought me back as a contractor. Now they’re hiring me again. By the time all is said and done, they’d have been money ahead to just pay me for a 10-week vacation.

That’s how it seems to go with “brilliant” ideas. Things look great on paper, but lose their luster when the rubber hits the pavement. Like that time I tossed a firecracker out the back door at Burger King and it landed in a puddle. I picked it up and thought, “We use the microwaves to dry wet money.” I seriously wish I was making this up.

On most jobs, creativity is a valued trait. You know, during the interview. But once you get started, they don’t want a lot of innovative thought. “Just do what we taught you to do, the way we taught you to do it. Don’t get creative!” In the Navy, that wasn’t just a mindset – it was in the regulations. Any deviations had to be approved by COMNAVAIRGOD himself.

I guess I should say I never violated those regulations, but when you’re 2000 miles from dry land and facing the potential grounding of two entire aircraft squadrons, you do what needs to be done. In other words, post a watch on the shop door to let you know if the Lieutenant is coming, then drill a few holes, solder some wires, and make the problem go away.

The trick to something like that is you’d better know exactly what you’re doing, because when you’re talking about launching fully armed fighter planes off the pointy end of the ship, the stakes are pretty high. There is no “close enough.” Especially when you’re 2000 miles from dry land and there’s no place to hide when the you-know-what hits the fan.

Other times, there’s a little more room for error. That doesn’t mean you can just throw caution to the wind, but when you’re not dealing with unexploded ordinance, you have a little more freedom to try something new. In my job, I’ve often told junior employees, “It’s okay – we’re not building bombs.”

Yes, that last sentence just put me on a federal watch list. Oh well, they’re gonna be bored.

But the point is that you weigh the risks of failure with the potential gain. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Somebody calls you out for using too many Oxford commas? Been there. Yet, here I am, still gainfully employed. Go figure.

On the job, the risks may be a little higher than when you’re planting flowers at home. “Who puts petunias with hydrangeas???” But the worst that happens there is you suddenly become the topic of discussion at the next neighborhood meeting. So what?

When we’re working on something for ourselves, we tend to follow the same philosophy from the military which says there are two ways to do anything – the Navy way and the wrong way. If anything stands in the way of doing what we thought we needed to do, we just stand there and keep running into the wall like a Roomba with no reverse button.

But if we take a single ounce of that creative energy that allowed us to come up with a dream in the first place, it’s not hard to figure out a way around obstacles. And every time we do, we become that much more convinced nothing will ever completely stand in our way. Even wet firecrackers.

Half of success is believing you can succeed. The other half is facing obstacles as speed bumps instead of roadblocks. If anything you’ve done has brought you to this point, there’s something else you can do to move beyond. Find what that is, and you open a whole new world of opportunity, putting your dreams that much more within reach.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Hit That First Bump Fast Enough, and You’ll Sail Right Over the Rest!

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

You know how there’s something on your bucket list that you’ve always wanted to do, and when you finally get to do it, it’s almost like waking up on Christmas morning to find out there’s no Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots? Worse yet, your dream toy is there and it breaks the first time you play it. Oh well, at least you got new socks and underwear.

That pretty much describes my first visit to New Orleans. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit for most of my life, and I have to be honest … a little Bourbon Street goes a long way. Thankfully, there’s more to the Big Easy than dive bars and live rodents. We went back a few days ago for a second look. The French Market and Riverwalk was thoroughly enjoyable. And no rats!

One of the things about traveling is that it’s full of surprises, some good and some not so good. Like that first stretch of interstate right after the “Welcome to Texas!” sign. They could have put up a smaller welcome sign and spent a few dollars on one that said, “Speed Limit 65 – Go Ahead – I Dare You!” We left the ground twice. In an RV, no less. Evel Knievel would have been proud.

It would have been really easy to take the next exit and turn around. But then I’d have to go over that same stretch of road again, so that alone made it worth driving the remaining 877 miles to get to the other side. Once we got past the torn-up pavement, the drive was mostly pleasant. In fact, some parts were beautiful. I guess there’s a reason people actually live here.

There are two sides to most things, and if we bail out at the first sign of trouble, we may never see the good parts. Ever met that person who changes jobs every six weeks because they had a bad day at work? “This place sucks! It’s hard work, and these rules are for the birds! I’m not enjoying this one bit!” Um, okay … you think maybe that’s why they call it a “job?”

Every job has its days. Every city has its slums. And every state has highway features that would bring a dirt-bike to its knees. Okay, not every state … so far, just Texas. Still, that’s not all there is to Texas, or New Orleans, or even the world’s worst job. There’s always another side worth exploring. And once you find it, you never really want to leave.

That doesn’t mean you won’t have bad days, or some Texas-sized bumps in the road. That’s all part of it. But when those bumps pop up, you have two choices. Slow down or turn around. Or you can just floor it. If you’re going fast enough, that first bump will launch you over the next two or three. I’m just saying.

It’s the same when we’re chasing a dream. That vision of success is what keeps us moving, but success has to be earned. Entertainers learn this early on – it’s called paying your dues. Granted, success comes a lot easier for some people, and ability is only part of the equation. There’s also hard work, determination, heartache, and a certain amount of luck.

A Roman philosopher once said that luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity. Opportunity is always there. Preparedness is the part we have to master. Part of that is building the necessary skills. Part is carving out the time to do the work. But the biggest part is the mindset that we won’t let a few bumps in the road turn us around.

When we first got off the highway in New Orleans, it was in a neighborhood the police try to avoid. It would have been really easy to turn around and never go back. We only walked three blocks down Bourbon Street. See one drunk sleeping on the sidewalk, you’ve seen ‘em all. But, after driving all that way to get there, we had to give it one more chance. And I’m glad we did.

As you chase your dreams, life will throw all kinds of obstacles in your way. You may have the perfect plan to get there, but then reality raises its ugly head and reminds you that not everything is fun. There will be parts you absolutely despise. But if the dream is worth having, it’s worth working through those parts. And who knows, you may even come to enjoy them.

Giving up is easy. People do it every day, and very few of them are living their dreams. That’s no mere coincidence. But for those who won’t be denied, who ride over the bumps and keep on going, there’s a reward far greater than any challenge we faced to get there. Keep going. Every obstacle you face brings you one step closer to your dream.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Success Awaits, but Sometimes You’ve Gotta Try the Etouffee

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

The other night, we were watching The Princess Diaries. Yes, it’s an old movie and yes, I’m a guy. But I think we established in yesterday’s post that I’m not overly macho. Any chest hair on this body was purely accidental, and it doesn’t have many neighbors.

There was a line in that movie that I wrote down, because I knew it would come in handy someday. I had no idea it would be so soon, or that it would be over something as simple as looking at a dinner menu. But, especially in the deep south, that can be an adventure in itself. “The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.” That was the line.

I thought about that as I looked over a menu in southern Louisiana that included everything from plain old cheeseburgers to a seafood platter full of stuff I can’t even pronounce. And I know from the few times my mom tried making Creole dishes, there’s a certain art to it. Let’s just say Mom was no artist. At least not in that regard. But dammit, she tried!

So, in Mom’s honor, I decided to sample some of the local cuisine. I asked the waitress for a recommendation and ended up with fried catfish and crawfish etouffee over rice.

For those who don’t know, etouffee is a French word for stew. And stew is an American word for “whatever we had sitting around.” In Creole country, etouffee simply means, “don’t ask.” But I didn’t come this far to eat cheeseburgers. You only live once. And you’re not really living if you never try anything new.

If you want my review of crawfish etouffee, you can skip to the end or just keep reading, because I really am hoping to make a point with this. You see, I’ve always been the guy who goes into the same restaurants and never looks at the menu, because I already know what I’m going to eat. If the chef wanted to poison me, they could plan it weeks in advance.

But when it comes to other things, I’ve always been a little more adventuresome. Especially on the job, I’ve never been afraid to try something new, to stretch my boundaries a bit, and raise my hand when everybody else is sitting on theirs. It’s served me well over the years, and I’ve seen some impressive career success that can’t be explained any other way.

Another quote that fits this topic is one you’ve heard from me before … to have something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done. It means stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. And that’s scary. But if what you’ve been doing all these years was ever going to work, it would have already happened.

When we open our mind to new ideas, opportunities for success grow exponentially. We experience things we never knew and learn new skills we never imagined. Some of those skills and experiences are a bust. There are parts of every success that are as enjoyable as steamed Brussels sprouts. Yes, I’ve tried them. Many times.

But other things we thought we would never like become second-nature. After a while, we may even come to enjoy them. And some will become our favorite part of the journey. If you had told me forty years ago I would spend my life writing system requirements, I would never have given up drinking. But nobody else wanted to do it, so I did. And I positively love it.

Ask somebody to describe their dreams, and their eyes light up. We love sharing the things that excite us. And the more excited a person is about their dreams, the more likely they are to achieve them. Until you show them a way to do it, a way that isn’t exactly what they’d planned. “Yeah, I won’t be doing that!”

So, what’s more important … reaching your goal, or how you get there? You can always follow the same path everyone else is on, and it may lead you to your dreams. But odds are, if you try something the rest of them aren’t willing try, you’ll get there faster. And you may even get someplace better, someplace so amazing you’d never even dreamed of it.

My first bite of crawfish etouffee was a bit of a shock to the tastebuds. But the second bite was a lot more pleasant, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying a dish I would never have tried a few years ago. Most of all, I gained the courage to try something else new.

The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. Open your mind. Throw caution to the wind. Dreams await those who are willing to try something new. Are you?

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Success Never Makes Excuses

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

In case you’re trying to figure out this “daily” posting strategy of mine, you’re not alone. If you do figure it out, let me know. Seems I start every day with the best of intentions, and then the day tells me exactly how it plans to go. I’ve tried citing the day for insubordination, but so far it doesn’t seem to care. It just laughs and says, “Keep up!”

So, I write when I can. If that’s how I made my living, I’d have to be a little more proactive. You know, like writing my post the night before when I’m still reasonably awake and there’s nothing good on TV. I thought living in an RV would somehow add to my free time, but as it turns out, we still do pretty much the same things we used to. We just do them someplace else.

Granted, I still work every day, so it’s not like we’re on a permanent vacation. But I have a feeling retirement will be pretty much the same. At least I hope so. I’ve seen what happens when people retire and find a recliner that fits their butt more perfectly by the day. No thanks! I want to be on the move as long as I’m physically able.

Which means if I want to write a daily post, I have to carve out the time. If I want to finish my first book, I have to carve out even more time. And then there’s my day job, my personal business, grocery shopping, emptying tanks, grilling dinner, and that semi-annual wax job that’s coming due this month. Do we see a bit of a trend?

Life seems to have little regard for any plans we’ve made. It has plans of its own. It’s like getting married and realizing that poker night isn’t a shared priority. Not that poker night was ever a thing with me. I only say it to sound macho. Anybody who knows me isn’t fooled by that a bit. Somewhere along the way, Lethal Weapon turned into Steel Magnolias. I’m just saying.

And in much the same way that life has little regard for our plans, success has little regard for our excuses. It’s pretty simple. You either do it, or you don’t. There’s really no in-between. It’s like that unfinished book in my computer. Okay, I have a few of them. That doesn’t make me a multi-published author. It makes me a guy who started a bunch of stuff he hasn’t finished.

Now, if my only goal was to write, I’ve accomplished that. Over the past two decades, I’ve written a few thousand copyrighted pieces. Some have even been published in newspapers, magazines, and other people’s books. But if you do a search on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, you won’t find anything with my name. They pretty much insist you actually finish the book first.

And therein lies the challenge. Success isn’t some predefined entity that eagerly awaits our arrival. It’s a personal status we each define for ourselves. We decide what it means, how it looks, and when we’ve arrived. And we do that at the very outset, when we’re still just dreaming about it. Everything from that point on is just a step in the process.

I can see a book with my name on it. That’s success. I can make that part happen. I can see a successful business with regular monthly income that’ll let me continue this lifestyle indefinitely. That’s success, and I can make that part happen. The problem is, I can also let a dozen other things get in the way and rightfully point to them as a barrier to my success.

Excuses do a good job of explaining why something didn’t happen, but they don’t really soften the blow. Especially when I know that I could find that extra hour each day to do what I need to do. I could get up an hour earlier, go to bed an hour later, work through lunch, take the laptop outside in the evening, or skip a couple of television shows. And I can’t make excuses for that.

You see, life doesn’t care if we succeed or not. And that’s a hard pill to swallow. But in order to work past that, we have to accept a couple of fundamental truths. The first is that we define success in our own terms … nobody else defines it for us. We decide what’s enough. And second, we have to accept that success is ours to achieve. Nobody else can do it for us.

We’re all busy. We all have other things fighting for our time. We’re all living in the age of Covid, and none of us can do a thing about the weather. Success doesn’t care. It’s simply a goal we set for ourselves. It doesn’t matter what’s standing in our way. It’s what we do about it that counts.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Success Rewards Consistent Effort

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

You know how you go to the grocery store just to pick up that special flavor of ice cream, only to find they’re sold out? That happens a lot at my local store. They’ll have forty-two varieties of cheese puffs, but not the brand I want.  Any more, I just take my shopping list to the Customer Service desk and tell them, “Here’s a bunch of stuff you don’t have. Trust me.”

It’s pretty much the same when you head south to escape the cold and the cold follows you south. Sure, it’s not snowing, but nighttime temperatures have been below freezing almost every day, and the furnace needs an all-night babysitter. Every morning the windows are iced over – on the inside. Manufacturing defect, they say. I have another name for it.

There are just times in your life when you expect things to be a certain way, and anything less is unacceptable. Not disappointing, because that suggests that maybe you expected too much to begin with. You know, like it’s your fault. Unacceptable means somebody, or something else is completely to blame. You got the shaft, and karma isn’t the least bit sorry about it.

Karma … there’s a word we use a lot. It usually means somebody is about to have a bad day. It’s a form of retribution for something we’ve done to somebody else, and we can’t even blame them when it happens, because they had nothing to do with it. You know, other than praying for karma to teach us a lesson. Try proving that one in court.

But karma sometimes works the other way around. Do nice things for people enough times in your life, and somehow nice things will come your way. Help enough other people to succeed, and success smiles on you. Put in a little extra effort every day on the job, and eventually the right people will notice. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it’ll happen.

Karma, if you break it down to basic terms, simply means what goes around comes around. Good things happen to good people. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. You reap what you sow. I could probably quote a few other tidbits of karmic wisdom, but you get the point. Life’s rewards are usually proportional to the effort we put in. Usually.

That doesn’t mean it you’re a good person, the store will always have your favorite kind of ice cream, or that the sun will break through every cloud just because you deserve it. Nice people suffer heartache and disappointment like anybody else. And just because a person is having a run of bad luck, that doesn’t mean they deserve it.

But success generally comes to those who pursue it the most. That doesn’t mean they work harder or faster, or that they invest more money than the rest of us. It simply means they work with a level of consistent determination that will not be denied. Go to one store, and they may not have the ice cream you want. Go to enough stores, and somebody is bound to have it.

It’s the law of averages. If you do the right thing enough times, sooner or later it’ll pay off. How many times? Well, unless you can give a definitive answer to that question, you need to try at least a few more times. The answer is different for each of us, and for each different goal we pursue. Even with the weather, sooner or later it’ll turn nice. Even if you live in Alaska.

If you have a dream, or maybe even just a simple goal, you know what it takes to achieve it. You know the things you need to do. Sure, you can buy a lottery ticket and hope for the best, but odds are you’ll get there a lot faster if you consistently do the things that need to be done.

Success never comes fast enough when there’s something we want. And “law of averages” is the last thing you want to hear when you keep running into roadblocks. But, as a friend often says, nine out of ten things we try will never work, but that last one will make you rich.

Is ten times enough? Fifteen? Twenty? The only way you’ll answer that question is to keep trying. But if you stop after the first try, or the first store, or the first week at a southern destination, you’ll never know what may be waiting just around the bend. If the dream is worth having, then give it a fighting chance. You may be closer than you think. That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved