Time to Pick Up the Pace

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

I woke up feeling reasonably rested for a change. My Fitbit’s sleep tracker doesn’t think I slept all that well, but what does it know? All it does is look for movement and track my heart rate. The only time I’m not moving at night is when I’m wide awake and trying to get back to sleep. And my heart runs really slow all the time. All I care about is how tired I am in the morning.

Several years ago, I was in the hospital overnight with “unspecified chest pain.” Let me tell you, if you want to skip the lines at the emergency room, walk in pointing to your chest. You’ll go straight back to a room. It’ll still be an hour before you see a doctor, but at least you’re not out in that germ incubator they call a reception area.

Well, I skipped the lines that night, and I also got a warm bed to sleep in. That’s the other thing about chest pain – you’re not going home. All through the night, this alarm kept going off next to my head. The nurse said it was a low-pulse alarm that goes off any time my heart rate drops below 50. Which, incidentally, happens EVERY SINGLE TIME I fall asleep..

My doctor says it’s not a problem, but apparently it was enough to keep me awake all night. I don’t know what causes it to run so slow. They say it happens with athletes and people who exercise a lot. Yeah, that’s not me. I think my heart is just pacing itself. You know, like a runner who’s in it for the long haul. And I’m really in no hurry to reach the finish line anyway.

Of course, we can take that to an extreme sometimes. It’s one thing to start everything like a jackrabbit and peter out halfway through the first lap, but it’s easy to start off so slowly we never really get in stride. Sure, everyone else is taking a breather because they sped off too quickly, but they’re still way ahead of us. At some point, we need to pick up the pace.

As we’ve discussed in a lot of topics, it’s not hard to pick up the pace at work. You’ve got somebody standing behind you (literally or figuratively) expecting you to do the job in half the time anyone else could, and they control the paychecks. We know the consequences of moving too slowly. Nobody needs to spell it out. But what about when it’s something for you?

In my business, some things take a little practice. You practice until you’ve got the steps committed to memory, and then run with it. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. But sometimes we get so caught up in dress rehearsals that we never actually take the stage. We’re still just “getting good at it.”

Ever heard of analysis paralysis? It’s what happens when we sit back and analyze something to the point we never actually step out and start doing something productive. Oh, we know exactly how we’ll handle any situation that arises. That’s committed to memory. The problem is, situations never arise because we’re still sitting there thinking about it.

Then, when we finally do get started, we feel that overwhelming urge to take it slow. Why? Because, according to our analysis, it’s only a matter of time until something goes wrong. We have to go slowly so we don’t blow right past it. Mistakes must be corrected. They taught us that in kindergarten. Slow and easy wins the race. Remember that one?

Well, slow and easy keeps you pretty much in pace with everybody else around you. You take a step, they take a step. Everybody takes a step. We’re all moving, but nobody is getting ahead. And even if it’s not a competition to see who can get there first, you already know what happens when you stick with the crowd. By the time everybody gets there, all the good stuff is gone.

The only way to step ahead of the crowd (and that much closer to your dreams) is to pick up the pace. Sure, do some analysis. Practice. But put a date on the calendar and commit to it – “No matter what, I will get started on this day. I don’t have to be perfect, and I don’t need to plan out every contingency. I’ll do what I need to do and handle challenges as they arise.”

And once you get started, get moving. Set a pace – a steady rhythm of doing the things you need to do every day to bring you closer to your goal. You may not beat everybody else to the finish, but you’ll get there just the same. And odds are you’ll pass a lot of dropouts along the way.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Unless You’re Changing, the Results Stay the Same

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

This is the day we normally ask, “what are your plans for the weekend?” Well, apparently my plans will involve figuring out the new Facebook, because no matter how many times I’ve tried reverting to the “classic” look, they just keep jamming it down my throat. Now they’re telling me to stop whining and take the hit. Lovely.

Change is hard. Sometimes it’s necessary, like telling us to cover our face when we’re out in public. Nobody likes it, but we can at least understand why. But in the middle of all this, with everything that has happened this year and what we’re facing in the coming months, Mark Zuckerberg decides to throw one more thing at us? Thanks! You’re a true patriot!

Okay, I’m done with my little rant. I wrote all that to make a point. We don’t like change. If you read yesterday’s post about the contents of my closet, you already know that. I guess men are especially resistant to change. That’s why the men’s clothing department takes up one small corner of the store, and women get an entire floor.

I can’t remember the last time men’s fashions really changed. It must have slipped through at some point, because the mullet hairstyle has somehow gone from high fashion to a stereotypical joke. It didn’t happen overnight, like the consensual ban on white dress shoes and leisure suits. Yes, I had ‘em. And I probably wore them a little beyond their expiration date.

When it comes to clothing, we’re still wearing what we wore twenty years ago. Okay, to an extent. In my time, if a teenage boy went to school with rubber sandals and colorful socks, he’d get pounded. According to my grandson, that’s what all the cool kids are wearing. You know, when it’s too hot for the Air Jordan XL2500s with the pink swoosh and neon green laces.

I remember taking him to a theme park during the summer, when all the girls his age were wearing short shorts and skimpy tops. Do you think he noticed? “Hey grandpa, look at that kid over there. That’s the KD-9s he’s wearing. And they’re only $600!” I told his mom not to worry about grandkids any time soon. His attention was otherwise focused.

But when it comes to men – adult men over the age of 20 – fashions are pretty much limited. I can send my wife to the store to buy a pair of pants and she only has two questions: Dress or casual, and what color? Because no matter what, they’re only available in bone, tan, blue, and brown. And if you’re lucky, some shade of olive drab.

Since the mid 1960s, the world’s population growth rate has dropped steadily every year. We’re not procreating at near the levels we did during the baby boom years. I blame that on two factors – HIV, and men’s fashions. One was thrust upon us by forces unknown, and one we readily accepted because we’re too lazy to change. Ladies, am I right?

Think about it. You’re out in the club and a young lady catches your eye. You smile and she smiles. So, you saunter over, looking all suave and debonair, and start laying down your best moves. You see one of the hottest creatures on God’s green earth. You know what she sees? Her dad, twenty years ago. And why not?  You’re dressed just like him.

Resistance to change is normal. We like knowing what to expect from one day to the next, even if it’s something we don’t like. This is why people with no savings continue to make poor financial decisions. It’s why people at the bottom of the corporate ladder seem content to stay there. And it’s why women in abusive relationships are so reluctant to leave.

Change can be a little intimidating. Even with something as simple as clothing. You think the manufacturers never tried anything new? They did. And every time, the new line was an utter failure because no man wanted to be the first to go out looking different than everybody else.

I get that a lot in my business. “Sure, it looks easy enough, but what if everybody else laughs?” That could happen. In fact, it does happen. It’s all part of having the guts to step out and do something a little out of the ordinary. And if you’re not willing to risk that, then just keep doing what you’ve been doing. No problem.

But remember, the same approach will always yield the same results. To have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. Change isn’t easy. It takes purpose, focus, and commitment. You have to be all-in. But once you get past that initial reluctance, a whole new world opens up. Dreams become possible, and success becomes a way of life.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Time is What We Make of It – Make Yours Count

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

It’s been a crazy week for me, and the calendar says it’s barely started. I think we talked about this last week. Just lots going on, between work, cleaning my dad’s house, my brother in the hospital, and taking the motorhome in for warranty work. Oh, and that freelance assignment I was supposed to have done two weeks ago. When it rains, it pours.

It seems a lot of my posts center on this topic – too much to do, and too little time to get it all done. And yet, at the end of the week, we still fill those 168 hours doing something. Maybe not what we’d planned on doing, because life has a way of spotting extra time. “Oh, you thought were getting all this done? Yeah. Hold my beer!”

It keeps us on our toes. It sparks our creativity. It makes us talk like a drunken sailor. It’s been said that you never really learn to swear until you learn to drive. Wrong! I learned to swear when my sister learned to drive. She taught me all the words. The Navy taught me how to use them in proper context. And time (or lack of it) was one of those contexts. Still is.

Dad always used to say “first things first.” Okay, that’s a simple concept for people who can tell the kid to go cut the grass. It’s easy to get the important stuff done when you can delegate the rest. That’s why the boss always looks so impressive and the rest of us are running around looking like Keith Richards on a three-day binge.

But there are some things we just can’t delegate. I’ve had help with the house cleaning, and I’m thankful for everyone who’s pitched in. But I have to do the freelance work myself and the boss says I can’t subcontract the work he’s paying me to do. I’d send somebody else to the hospital to visit, but I’m pretty sure my brother would catch on. And nobody else is driving that RV.

Okay, I’m having a little fun here, because that’s the best way to work through trying times. No, I wouldn’t try to farm out the work I get paid to do. And I’m happy to spend time with my brother, even if it is in such a clinical setting. And someday, I’ll teach my wife to drive the RV. You know, after I put the first dent in it. I’m pretty sure that’s what she’s been waiting for.

Leadership is a word we often misconstrue to mean bossing people around, when what it really means is taking the bull by the horns and making things happen. It’s a word employers like to throw around, and for good reason. Every successful company needs leaders. And not everybody wants to be a leader. That’s why we have pay scales.

But leadership applies to most areas of life, including the parts where we’re doing things for ourselves. You know, chasing our dreams. It’s an important part of life, and one we all too often ignore for the sake of all those other things we have to do. You know, now. Right this minute!

And part of leadership is being able to categorize work into a few different buckets. In my final years in the Navy, I was the leading petty officer for my division. I sat at a desk and looked important. And I shuffled papers. Lots of papers. The officers were so impressed.

On my desk, I had three stackable baskets. You know, “In, “Out,” and “Pending.” Well, mine said, “I don’t want it,” “I’ll get to it later,” and “I’m hoping you’ll forget about it.” Guess which one stayed full? And once a month, I’d sift through the papers in that bottom basket. Nine times out of ten, nobody had ever mentioned them again. They went straight in the circular file.

Sometimes, people will dump work on your plate simply because they can. It’s up to us to decide which tasks are important, which ones we can give to somebody else, and which ones we can set aside. And here’s the important part of this whole post – your dreams NEVER go in the “set it aside” bucket. Find time. Make time if you have to. But dreams always take a priority.

They may not take top priority, and you probably won’t find anybody else willing to do the work for you. They have dreams, too. But as long as you’re willing to let other priorities steal all your time, you’ll never do anything for yourself.

Working hard will get things done. But are you getting the right things done? A cemetery awaits us all. We may not be able to change the destination, but we can certainly choose the path. Make time for yourself. Make it count.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Everyone Has an Opinion – Some Are Just Better Than Others

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

It’s the last day of the month. Time for some know-it-all like me to pop in and ask if you’ve accomplished all your monthly goals. I haven’t. I’m just trying to live vicariously through you. I’m hoping at least one of your will send me a message telling me you did everything you set out to do so I can call you one or two bad names and then focus on outdoing you next month.

Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but isn’t that the way it feels sometimes? You do something good, something productive, and you’re afraid to tell anybody because you don’t want them to think you’re rubbing it in. It’s better to succeed in silence. Almost like an army advancing on a strategic target. The last thing you need is somebody else’s attention.

Besides, it’s fun to spring a surprise on people. “Hey, boss, remember that report you were looking for somebody to do? I saved you the trouble. It’s all done! Here, I even put your name on it!” Okay, there’s a difference between initiative and brown-nosing. We’ll talk about that some other time.

But what happens if you let the boss know you’re working on it before it’s actually done? “Hey, where’s that report you said you were working on? You know it’s due tomorrow!” It doesn’t matter that you’ve worked till midnight every day and will probably pull an all-nighter tonight. You’re no longer the hero coming in to save the day. You’re just another hurdle.

And that’s something at work that can get you noticed and maybe even set you up for a promotion. You want the recognition. What if you keep it to yourself and then, just as you’re about finished, you find out the boss quietly assigned it to his favorite protégé? You turn yours in a day early and the boss says, “Who told you to do this? Don’t you have other work to do?”

Well, is it any wonder we don’t let the cat out of the bag when we’re working on our dreams? Especially big ones. It’s okay to tell people you’re hoping to spend a week in Florida this winter. But tell people you’re looking to buy a vacation home on the beach, and let the games begin. “Seriously? With whose money? Planning on winning the lottery next week?”

It doesn’t even matter if you’ve got a plan. In fact, that makes it worse because now people know you’re serious. Now your mental stability is on the line. And we all know what happens if you share your plan. “Seriously? You fell for that? My cousin’s neighbor’s brother-in-law tried that. It doesn’t work!”

So, you keep it to yourself and silently plod along. You make mistakes, more than you might have, because there’s nobody to help avoid it. And the more of those mistakes you make, the more you’re convinced everybody else was right. You really aren’t cut out for success. Or maybe you are, but whatever you’re doing is just plain ludicrous. It’ll never work.

Those last three words have blocked more people from their dreams than you could ever imagine. “It’ll never work.” Never mind that other people have made it work, or that there are people out there with a track record of success who can help you over the rough spots. It’s easier to just quit while you’re ahead.

Except, you’re really not ahead, are you? That dream, that burning desire, is still there. You may have poured a little water on it and turned some of the smoke into steam, but it’s still there fighting to build back up and roar to life. But much like a fire, you can only water it down so many times before it dies completely.

And where are all those helpful friends who made you feel so bad in the first place?  “Aw, man, that’s really tough. But you had to know it wasn’t meant to be, right? Come on over and we’ll have a beer. Can you pick some up on your way?”

When friends hand you a bucket of water for your dreams, pour the water on them and find somebody with a little fire of their own. Hang around people with similar dreams, and maybe even a few who have already accomplished theirs. They’ll be just as willing to help as all those other people. The difference is, the help they give will steer you to succeed, not fail.

It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a team to succeed. You have to do most of the work, but the more successful people you have in your corner, the better your chances of success. Don’t work in silence, and don’t keep your dreams a secret. Share them with the right people and let all those others sit back in amazement.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Until You Take That First Step, It’s All Just a Dream

Good morning. It’s Friday!!! I hope your day is off to an awesome start.

It’s been a long week. I know, we established that fact yesterday, but I think it bears repeating. It’s been a really long week! Okay, it’s been four days. The same four days that precede every Friday. But there are times when you’re pretty sure somebody snuck in a couple of extras just for you. Okay, I’m done whining. For now.

On a brighter note, I’ve gotten up every morning this week to send out some words of inspiration. I had slipped into a habit of letting other things get in the way, and it feels good to have accomplished my goal for the week. That’s assuming I actually finish this post and send it out. But the first few words are always the hardest. After that, it gets easy.

It takes a lot more energy to get your car up to speed than it does to maintain that speed. Not that the arresting officer really cares about that, but it’s worth noting. For that matter, it takes more energy to start your car than it does to run it for the next several minutes. And I’m like a car. A really old car with a carburetor and manual choke. And leaded gas.

Work fascinates me. I can sit and stare at it for hours. I didn’t make that one up, but it sure seems to fit my personality sometimes. And thankfully, I have all kinds of other things to do instead. Productive things. You know, like surfing the internet, reading social media, watching TV, staring out the window. Or my personal favorite, planning the work. I do that a lot.

By the time the day is done, I can curl up in bed with a smug grin on my face, knowing I’ve stayed busy all day and truly deserve a night of uninterrupted sleep. Well, apparently my body knows the difference, because I haven’t had a night of uninterrupted sleep since 1982.

There’s nothing quite like setting a goal and achieving it. And, as we’ve discussed in the past, a goal is something that you, and you alone, can control. If the outcome depends on anybody else, it’s a dream. But dreams can be distilled into goals that, if we accomplish them religiously, can influence the outcome and stack the odds in your favor.

Like eating fried foods and chocolate. If your dream is to gain weight, all you have to do is set a goal of eating more junk. Voila! You win!!! On the other hand, if your desire is to be healthier and lose some weight, your goal may be to eat more fruits and vegetables. I know. Blech! There are pills that will help us lose weight. Can’t we mix them with chocolate? Don’t say it … I know.

But the problem with any goal is that you have to actually do something to achieve it. And, more often than not, you have to do two things – you have to do what you need to do and stop doing what you shouldn’t. Which is why you see people dipping strawberries in a fountain of milk chocolate. They got the first part right – just not the rest.

The first step is always the hardest. Whether it’s cleaning a room, chopping down trees, changing your diet, or starting a business, nothing happens until you put forth the effort. Once you get started, it’s easy to find distractions … oops!  I mean, it’s easy to keep going. Yes, distractions are everywhere. But if you stay focused on the objective, it’s not hard to finish.

I’m getting ready to take on a few very large projects. Some are a lot more enticing than others, but they all need to be done. I’ve thought about them, and I’ve planned them down to the last detail. There’s only one thing left to do – as a popular comedian often says, “Git ‘er done!”

Once you take that first step, the next one is that much easier. And the more progress you make, the more clearly you can see the end. That doesn’t mean another job just as big won’t be waiting for you. But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Set a goal, find the time, and make it happen. Sometimes, just getting out of the chair is the hardest part. But once you get started, your focus changes and things get done. Like this post. I’m done. All it took was sitting at the keyboard and shutting off the internet. Do what needs to be done and stop doing the rest. Now my day can begin. Hopefully yours as well.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Keep It Simple – Then Make It Easy

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

Mom always used to say I have diarrhea of the mouth. Don’t read that again – you got it right the first time. Seems there would be kinder ways to tell somebody their breath isn’t minty fresh. And no amount of Listerine made it any better. Believe me, I tried. All that did was give me medicine breath. Turns out Mom was just saying I talk a lot. Well, duh!

If you’ve been following these posts any time at all, you’ve probably figured that out all on your own. I’ve never been at a loss for words. Even at work, when somebody else writes a 12-page functional requirements document, mine is 50 pages. If I’d been paid by the word all these years, I’d be rich.

There’s something to be said for getting the point across clearly. Nobody has ever accused me of producing work that lacks detail. The problem is getting people to actually read it. Even the developers who need the information toss it aside and say, “Just give me the Cliff Notes version.”

Years ago, I was a lead writer on a program writing Air Force maintenance manuals. Some of my writers would agonize over which word to use, or whether to use a comma. I always told them, think of how the technician will use this book when it’s finished. They’ll take it out of the box, stack it on the floor, and climb on top of the stack to reach the paper cups on the top shelf.

Not a really comforting thought, especially if you live directly under an Air Force base landing approach. But it does put things in perspective. Keep it simple. Nobody cares about punctuation when they’ve got a wrench in one hand and grease is dripping out of the landing gear motor all over their freshly starched uniform. They just want to get the job done.

You see, the job is simple – it’s just not easy. We talked about that last week, but what does it really mean? Simply stated (like how I threw that in there?), it means it’s not rocket science. I can explain it so anybody can understand. But beyond the explanation, it still takes a little skill to make it happen. And that skill comes from experience.

In fact, our procedural manuals were written on that very premise. We would bold key words in each instruction so the more experienced technician could just focus on those words. “Tighten the attaching bolts in an alternating pattern to 16 ft. lbs.”  A pretty neat concept, if you ask me. But do you think anybody even noticed the spelling in the middle?

Okay, you can stop reading the sentence – I didn’t misspell anything. I’m just making a point. Sometimes, we get so bogged down in the details that we overlook the simplicity of what we’re trying to do. And let me tell you, I’m the king of that domain. I can overthink anything. It keeps me from making any huge mistakes.

The problem is it keeps me from not making mistakes as well. You see, there’s a point where we need to stop thinking and start doing. Are there things I’ll need to consider along the way? You bet. And fate has a way of putting those things in front of you at just the right time. Does it matter what you’ll do if a traffic light twelve miles away turns red? No. Not until you get there.

But if you don’t start the engine and put your foot on the gas now, you’ll never get far enough to find out. Planning isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but too much planning stands in the way of action. At some point, we need to actually do the work. And that’s when we begin to find ways to make it easy.

My business is built on a very simple concept. Anybody can do it. The same is true of just about everything I do, from my day job to writing these posts and changing the oil in my car. But none of them are particularly easy. They take practice. And after a while, you get really good.

Learn the concepts, and then put them into practice. Handle obstacles as they arise, based on what you’ve learned along the way. Taking something that’s simple and making it easy is just a matter of doing it until it becomes second nature. You’ll encounter new challenges as you grow. But with each success, you’re that much better equipped to overcome whatever may come your way.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It Ain’t Over Until You Quit

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

A friend at work once asked, “What time do you get out of bed in the morning?” She was referring to the fact that, by the time she woke up, she already had a morning post from me. Back then, I was getting up at 5:00 every day. Now, I’m lucky to be up by 7:30. I’d like to say it’s because I work so hard and need more sleep. But we all know the truth, now don’t we?

Last week I was writing to you from the heart of the Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It was a beautiful campground with amazing scenery. And most of the week, the weather was perfect. Made it hard to stay inside and work all day, but the bank says I have to keep putting money in if I want to keep taking it out. They’re picky like that.

We did get to the pool most afternoons, and I was able to spend a little time over lunch getting some sun in the hammock. Now, if you want something to jump-start your amusement today, picture me getting into a net-mesh bed that pivots at each end. Have you ever watched people at the carnival trying to climb a horizontal rope ladder? The neighbors thought it was funny.

As I quickly learned, there’s an art to getting in and out of a hammock. Well, getting out is pretty easy. It happens when you least expect it, with no effort whatsoever. But unlike cats, people don’t always land on their feet. Thud!

It would have been easy to just leave it sitting there for the next victim, but I wanted some sun and stretching out on the patio just isn’t my cup of tea. Besides, I’ve learned one of life’s brutal truths – at this age, getting down on the ground is a long-term commitment. Might as well change the oil while I’m there, because I’m not getting back up any time soon.

But when there’s a will, there’s a way. And, if you’re lucky, a much younger granddaughter to show you how it’s done. Sit in the middle, let it stop moving, then very slowly rotate sideways and lie back. Then shift to the middle because you’re still not centered and when you’re packing this much weight, there’s not much room for error. I finally got it right.

It’s that way with a lot of things. You see something that looks simple, maybe too simple, and think, “I can do this!” Well, you can. It just may take some practice. That’s the whole premise of those carnival games, where a carnie with six teeth and an IQ to match shows you over and over how easy it is. And $100 later, you finally realize there may be a secret he’s not telling you.

The thing is, once you learn that secret, it really IS simple. Sometimes, the hardest part is just trusting our instincts and not overthinking it. A business friend and mentor tells me all the time, it’s simple but it’s not easy. And he’s right. The concept is so simple, anybody can do it. But making that concept work takes effort.

And, like getting down on the ground at this age, it takes a little of that long-term commitment. All too often, we find something that could lead us to our dreams, but when the money doesn’t start rolling in within a few days, we quit. “That just doesn’t work.” Yes, it does. But it only works if you do. Off-ramps are plenty, and the moment you take one, it’s all over.

All through life, there are flashing signs that say, “Exit here!” They pop up at every hint of failure and keep flashing until we turn them off or just ignore them and keep driving. And once you drive past, the flashing stops. You can’t see it anymore. Sure, there will be another sign down the road. Lots of ‘em. But as long as you keep your eye on the goal, they’re just glitter along the way.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Enough To Be Your Best

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

I saw a tee shirt not long ago that I almost bought for my grandson. It read, “Mom said I could be anything I wanted to be, so I became a smartass.” Hey, if the shoe fits. I probably had a little to do with that myself. You know, telling him there’s nothing he can’t do. His mom is to blame for the rest. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. She got it from her mom.

We tell our kids this kind of stuff any time they aim for the stars or come up short on their report card. The conversation is pretty much the same. “Yes, sweetheart, you can become the best baseball player ever to live. You just have to want it!” With the report cards it’s a little less lofty. “If Johnny can get an A in math, so can you. You’re just not trying hard enough!”

Well, time for a bite of reality. It’s called “limitations” … the outer boundaries of our natural abilities. If your kid brings home a C on their report card, it means they’re pretty much like everybody else – no better, and no worse. It also means you don’t have to spring for a new bicycle or whatever else you may have promised for better grades. Learn when to be satisfied.

The fact is teachers don’t award grades based on effort. If they did, some of the slowest kids in class would bring home straight As, and some of the geniuses would be scraping the barrel. Grades, like many things in life, are based on our ability to master whatever it is we’re trying to do. And, while effort certainly plays a part, there’s a little more to it than that.

My youngest daughter is one of the smartest people I know. If she decided to study medicine, there’s little doubt she could learn to be a brain surgeon. But if you’ve ever seen how she shakes just buttering a piece of toast, you’d run the other way. I’m not sure what causes that, but it’s a physical limitation that would prevent her from ever holding a knife in the operating room.

I always wanted to be a pitcher on my baseball team, and the home run star of the league, too. But I spent my time in right field – you know, where the dandelions grow. Nobody ever hits the ball to right field unless they were aiming for the dugout and missed. The rules said the coach had to let me play, so he put me where I could do the least amount of damage.

When it came to batting, let’s just say I was a better outfielder. I think I got one base hit all year, and that was only because the other team was too dazed at the initial shock that Dave actually hit the ball. But, here’s an important point to make. As I was grabbing my bat and helmet, I made a completely incredible announcement – “I’m getting a hit this time!”

Could I have become a stronger player? Absolutely. Could I have hit more home runs than Freddie Chadwick? Never in a million years. My physical stature just wasn’t sufficient to hit the ball that far. Yes, I could have built more muscle and hit the ball further. But some of that is just in the way we’re built. The same goes for grades. You do the best you can do.

Can you accomplish anything in life? Well, within certain limitations, yes. If you’re confined to a wheelchair, odds are you won’t be winning the Boston Marathon any time soon. But that doesn’t mean you can’t compete, and that you can’t turn in an impressive performance. It’s just a matter of priorities – what’s most important to you?

We don’t have to reach the very top to succeed. Do you need to be the richest person in the world, or just make enough money to enjoy the life you want? Sure, both are technically “possible,” but one is a lot more feasible. And within the bounds of “feasible” lies that all-important realm of “believable.”

It’s hard to find the energy to chase a goal we don’t believe we can achieve. Whether that’s better grades, a perfect golf score, a home run, or achieving financial success, it all has to start with belief. And belief only extends to the limit of our natural abilities.

Can you become a better student? Yes. Will you ever get straight As? Maybe. Can you hit the ball a little better, or improve your financial status? Absolutely. To what limits? Well, there’s only one way to find out. When you reach a goal, set a new one. Then just keep doing that until you can’t go any further. You may not reach the very top, but you can get closer. And sometimes, that’s good enough.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

How Secure Is Your Income?

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

I woke up this morning thinking back to when I was a young boy, probably 12 or 13. Yes, I can remember that far back, thank you. Times were a lot easier then. Not because times have changed that much, but all I had to worry about were pimples and girls. As it turnHow Bied out, there wasn’t much I could do about either of them, so all that worrying was for nothing.

One of our pastimes back then was daredevil stunts on our bicycles. Understand, this was way before the days of bicycle helmets, which probably explains a lot. Yes, I bounced off the ground a few times. And our default response was to figure out what went wrong, then do it again a little faster.

That was in the days when Evel Knievel was a star, and you could instantly spot a home with an adolescent boy by the makeshift ramp in the front yard. It was pretty simple, actually. A narrow sheet of thin plywood propped across a big rock, with a loose gravel approach and a car parked in the landing area. What could possibly go wrong?

Suffice to say we suffered our fair share of scrapes and bruises, and I’m pretty sure Dad knew the source of those scratches on the side of the car. We’d hit the ramp, the plywood would shift, we’d go off sideways, and flip over the handlebars when we landed on the front tire. A little Bactine and some fresh bandages, and we were at it again. “See if you can find a bigger rock!”

If this sounds even remotely familiar, welcome to my world. I wasn’t a daredevil by any stretch. I was just a typical boy having fun. And I guess that mentality hung around long enough to drive some of the decisions I make today. No guts, no glory. I’m pretty sure my car has a spare tire, but I couldn’t begin to say if it has any air in it because I’ve never checked.

Dad used to drill that into me … “Check the air in that spare tire, boy!” Okay, Dad came from an age where tires were a little less reliable and driving around on “may-pops” was a time-honored tradition. He’s told me several times about a short trip where he got a flat, put on the spare, and then the spare tire went flat. Sometimes, you just can’t win.

Driving around without a spare tire isn’t overly intelligent, even though a lot of newer cars don’t have one anyway. But it’s something we never think about until we need it. Then all of a sudden, we find religion. “God, PLEEEEZE let this thing have air!”

We’re in the middle of some very unsettling times, and all indications are that we’re nowhere near the end. In fact, it seems to be ramping up again. Millions of people are unemployed, and those of us who were lucky enough to keep our job the first time may not be so lucky again. A lot of companies are barely surviving and one more blow will finish them off.

The question is, do you have a spare tire? Does it have any air in it? “I’ve got a few bucks in the bank.” That’s great. How long would it last if you had to live on it? For most of us, the answer is “not long.” A month or two? Maybe six? What happens after that? Hopefully that spare tire is capable of breathing in new air, because it’ll go flat long before you’re done using it.

Now, more than ever, we need multiple streams of income. I’ve always been able to add in a little with stand-up comedy and freelance writing, but it’s never quite enough to live on. How about you? If you had to suddenly start paying the bills without a weekly paycheck, what would you do? This isn’t about doom & gloom. It’s about having something to fall back on, just in case.

Dig the well before you get thirsty. I didn’t make that one up, but it’s one of my favorite quotes. Are there things you could do to earn an income if you suddenly lost your job? Sure, there are dozens. But most, if not all, will take a fair amount of time to get started and up to speed. Meanwhile, those bills just keep coming.

The time to start is now, before you need it. Hopefully the need will never arise, but what’s the worst that happens then? You have extra money and have to figure out how to spend it? That’s a problem I could live with. And if the need does arise, you simply shift gears. Challenges are only a problem when we’re not ready for them. When we are, they’re just another path to success.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Change or Maintain – You Can Only Choose One

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

If you’ve ever spent much time around a toddler, you’ve come to learn two valuable truths. First, whatever they’re doing right now, they will keep doing until the cows come home. Hopefully it’s something you don’t mind, like singing the same song for the forty-third time. Second, their mood will turn on a dime, and your little angel will turn into a demon in six seconds flat.

And once that downward spiral begins, it’s not stopping any time soon. The only thing that seems to work is letting them run down completely until they fall asleep from sheer exhaustion. Then, there’s at least a snowball’s chance they’ll wake up in a better mood. Maybe.

I talked about kids and naps the other day, so I won’t go into that again now. But the point I wanted to make is that, whatever wave we seem to be riding at the moment, we tend to ride that wave until it reaches the shore and there’s nothing left to do but go find another wave. Or until it dumps us off midstream. Been there!

Body weight is one of those waves for me. It’s something I’ve struggled with over the years, and the first thing I learned is that none of those fad diets works. It’s like bungee jumping. You go down really fast, then the laws of physics take over and you snap right back to where you started. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Seems I read that somewhere.

The other thing I learned is that my body likes to maintain. Whatever it’s doing today, it wants to keep doing. If I’ve been maintaining a steady weight, I may gain a pound or two, but it comes right back down. Same thing happens if I lose a pound or two. Now, if I maintain a trend, upward or downward, my body seems to say, “Okay, this is what we’re doing. Got it!”

So, the challenge for me is to get the weight going the right direction long enough to convince my body that’s what it’s supposed to do. And just like a dog begging for a treat at the same exact time every night, it somehow finds a way to shed those pounds. Now, if I could just get my body to learn new tricks as quickly as my dog, I’d have it made.

We’re creatures of habit. I’m sure that’s no startling revelation for any of you. Whatever it is we’re used to, we tend to follow that trend until something comes along to change it. That change may be forced on us, like a visit from the boss saying it’s time to find a new job. Or it could be something we decided to change on our own, like exercise and proper diet. Right.

But once we get used to those changes, they become a way of life. If the change moves us in the wrong direction, it should be no surprise when we arrive at the wrong destination. And it’s not like we don’t know it’s happening. On the other hand, if we’re headed in the right direction, we tend to continue that way until we get where we want to be. Just like magic.

The problem is, those changes are usually subtle. You don’t wake up in the morning and think, “Oh no! I’ve gained another pound!” We have bathroom scales to make that announcement. If mine isn’t doing what I want, I blame it on the batteries. But the point is, we have ways to measure our progress, so the long-term outcome should be no real surprise.

As a business analyst, one of the first things I do on any project is define the “as-is” scenario. Where are we today, and how are we maintaining that? The next step is gap analysis – what changes need to be made to reach our desired goal? From there, it’s simply a matter of implementation and feedback. Take action and measure the results.

I’m willing to bet most of you could quickly answer the question, “Where would you like to be in five years?” That’s easy. Somewhere better than here! But unless we do something to move the needle, odds are we’ll still be right where we are. The change doesn’t have to be drastic. It just has to be sustainable, and in the right direction. From there, nature pretty much takes control.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved