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

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

If you’re among the majority of the nation, your day didn’t start out like last Tuesday. Kids are home from school, parents are working from home (if they’re able to work at all), and all around us the world is slowly grinding to a halt. Hopefully you’ve got enough of the essentials to carry you through for a few days, because your neighbors cleaned the shelves at the store.

There was a story in the news about a guy in Tennessee who rented a truck and bought up every bottle of hand sanitizer he could find. Once the stores were empty, he put the items on Amazon and eBay for as much as 80 times what he paid for them. Both outlets shut him down, and he’s stuck with 17,700 bottles he can’t sell. Now he can’t afford toilet paper. Instant karma.

I normally try to mix in a little humor in my posts, but there’s not a lot to laugh about in this crisis. I read yesterday that up to 80 million jobs will be impacted, and in the coming week as many as 10 million people could be out of work. Never mind the kids whose school year was interrupted, or the high school seniors who may be denied the spectacle of public graduation.

Life, as we know it, has changed. And while we will eventually weather the storm and come out safe on the other end, things we’ve taken for granted have changed forever. At the top of that list is our feeling of security. It’s a reminder that life can come along when we least expect it and change everything in a moment.

The last recession is still a vivid memory. Most of us were impacted by it, and it’s taken the better part of 12 years to recover. Yet, in a matter of days, most of those gains have been wiped out. Hopefully this crisis won’t last so long, but recovery will take time and the landscape will look very different when it’s all over. Where we fit in that landscape may yet be unknown.

When you rely completely on one source of income, your exposure to risk increases exponentially. That’s why I’ve always tried to have a few things I could fall back on. A little here and a little there adds up. When you’re working, it’s extra income. It’s a chance to enjoy some of life’s finer experiences. And if the job ends, it becomes your immediate means of survival.

You never know what may happen to change your situation. Two years ago, I had brain surgery. That could have put me out of commission for good. You could be on your way to work tomorrow and somebody decides to take your lane. It happened to my wife. All manner of things can happen to change life as you know it. The question is, what will you do then?

To the extent that you can rely on yourself for income, and not somebody else, you have a better chance of controlling the outcome of things over which you have little control. I’ve never once fired myself from a job. Have you? If your company closed its doors tomorrow, could you continue making an income on your own? Every little bit helps.

Dig the well before you get thirsty. You’ve read those words before. There are things we can all be doing now that may not make a major difference in the next week or so, and maybe not even for a few months. But they could make all the difference in the world as we move forward and find our new place in life. If you’re out of work already, why not put that time to use?

It’s funny how we scramble to find a quick solution when we need money, yet we’re quick to scoff at anything outside of the traditional 8-5 job. But at a time when so many companies are sending people home, doesn’t a business of your own make that much more sense? The problem isn’t a lack of opportunities. It’s an overabundance of misplaced pride.

If you’re over the age of 30, odds are somebody at some time has offered you the chance to build a home-based business. And, if you’re among more than 99% of the adult population, you turned it down. Granted, owning a business is no guarantee of success. You have to work at it, and you may still struggle. But right now, wouldn’t it be nice to have something to work at?

This crisis will end. And then something else will happen. That’s the reality of life. Handling those ups and downs will depend heavily on the choices you make now – before the need arises. To the extent that you control the variables, you control the results. Put yourself in the driver’s seat and you’ll never have to wonder where you’re headed.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Don’t Have To Be Great – Just Good Enough

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

Last night I gave a presentation to a group of aspiring entrepreneurs. I like talking. If you knew me well, you’d already know that. And I like talking about dreams, motivation, and success. You know what they say. Those who can, have – those who haven’t, teach. Well, something like that. In other words, fake it till you make it. I’ve done that several times in my life.

I remember when I first took a job as a technical writer. I’d been a writer in my previous job, but I wasn’t hired in that role. I just convinced the right people I could do it, so they sat me in front of a computer. It was that or let me keep working on the shop floor, and by then I’d shared all my secrets with younger technicians who didn’t cost as much. I never said I was smart.

When I started my new job, I was excited. I remember telling my wife that my career title had forever changed. No longer was I the technician who could also write – I was a professional writer! Two weeks later, when I realized they’d hired me to write software documentation, my excitement at a new job title turned to panic that they’d soon figure out I was just faking it.

A couple of months later, my manager called me into her office. I remember thinking, “Here it comes.” I looked around at my desk to see if I had more than one box-full of personal effects and made a mental note of who all would be there to witness my inevitable walk of shame.

As I sat down, my manager asked me to close the door. Not a good sign. Then she said, “I don’t want any of the other folks to hear this, but every project manager has been asking for you to be assigned to their team. They said you’re the best technical writer they’ve ever seen!” I remember thinking, “Who the hell have they been working with???” I still wonder.

For each of us, there comes a point where we realize we’re better than we thought. Maybe at one thing, maybe at several things. Turns out I’m pretty good at putting away cheeseburgers & fries, too. You play the hand you’re dealt. A friend, who at the time was a novice newspaper columnist, once asked me, “Do you ever feel like we’re just faking it?” Yes. All the time.

It’s one thing if you can hang a diploma on the wall and add a few random letters after your name. That’s a qualification. It means you’ve earned the right to do whatever it is you do. You’re a trained expert. So what? Nobody taught Eric Clapton to play a guitar and he doesn’t have a single diploma hanging on his wall. Just a bunch of gold records. What a phony!

As a writer, it’s pretty simple. If you can write something people want to read, you’re qualified. The same is true of comedians, musicians, speakers, and just about everything except surgeons and airline pilots. I pretty much insist on seeing their credentials. But a diploma doesn’t make you good at something, and if you’re good enough, a diploma doesn’t matter. It’s just a formality.

Now, if you read that as “forget the education and just go fake it,” you missed my point. What I’m saying is that we all have some natural talents that, with a little development, can put us on top of our game. Whether that’s in creative pursuits, or business, or almost anything, your success is based more on desire and confidence than any amount of formal education.

There are things in this world that require the formalities and certifications, and for good reason. But there are many, many more that don’t. If you have a genuine desire to excel and a bare minimum of natural talent, there’s not much you can’t do.

I’ll never be a great singer. My choir director will back me up on that. But there are lots of other things I can do as well as anybody else, and so can you. Don’t let the lack of credentials or experience stop you from pursuing your goals. For every successful endeavor, somebody with no experience did it first. Everybody else is just imitating their success. Why not you?

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Next Year – It’s The Day That Never Comes

Good morning! I hope your day (and your month) is starting off just right.

Yes, it’s a new month. Officially, this marks the end of mourning for all those New Years resolutions we buried earlier in the year. We can finally set aside our feelings of guilt and get on with life. You know, pretty much the way it was last year. Only now, we have a head-start on next year’s resolutions. “This time I really mean it!”

Do these things accumulate? Because my pile of unfulfilled resolutions is getting pretty big. You know, if “big” can really be used to describe a mountain. Except I think a mountain is easier to climb. Resolutions are about as firm as marshmallows. At some point, you’d just fall in. Then you’d have a new resolution. “Next year, I’m climbing out of this mess!” Meanwhile, you smother.

A resolution is a promise we make to ourselves. It’s a vision of self-improvement and a brighter future in which we live life to its fullest because we’re too awesome to do anything else. Okay, maybe it’s nothing more than smaller clothing and some admiring eyes on the beach. Right. The only way I’ll get admiration on the beach is by cruising past in a million-dollar speed boat.

Personally, I see two problems with resolutions. First, we seem to think that by simply flipping a page on the calendar, we can undo years of undesired habits and form completely new ones. Kinda like my algebra teacher pointing at Sheldon Cooper’s chalkboard and saying, “Look again! It’s so simple!!!” Okay, it’s like my dog mastering the concept of Daylight Savings Time. Better?

Change is never simple. It takes effort. It takes commitment. And it takes bribery. There has to be a reward. Whether that’s a new bathing suit, dinner at your favorite restaurant, a weekend vacation, or getting the bill collectors off your butt, the payoff has to be worth the effort. Change itself isn’t a goal – it’s just another job that you can’t pawn off on somebody else.

The other problem with resolutions is they create this mindset that we can only make positive changes at some predetermined date on the calendar. Let’s face it, halfway through a night of cramming for a final exam, you’re faced with the reality that you should have started studying weeks ago like all the other bookworms. What right do you have to pass this test now?

Ridiculous? Don’t be so sure. There is a lot more truth in those words than we’d like to believe. Because we’ve been taught from birth that hard work and sacrifice are the only ways to attain any level of success. And if we haven’t worked hard and sacrificed to this point, we feel unworthy of success. It has to be in the past, not in the future. Or, so we think.

And because we haven’t done it in the past, we wait for the next window of opportunity, a time when we can start making the changes necessary to achieve the things we desire. You know, like next year. Next year is always a good time. Especially since it never comes, because once it gets here, it’s not “next year” anymore. That’s still 12 months away.

Well, if a calendar is what it takes to get you started, it’s here. Today is a new day. It’s the start of a new week, and the start of a new month. Whatever changes you initiate today will be a month old by the first of April and ten months old by next year. It may be too late to do anything in January, but it’s never too late to do something today.

The results will never change until you change your approach. That begins the day you decide your dreams are more important than a page on the calendar. Call it a resolution, a promise, a goal, or whatever you want. Just make it happen. A year from now, you can be halfway there or still just talking about it. The year will pass either way. It’s what you make of it that counts.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

How Much Is A Plumber Worth? Whatever He Charges

Good morning! It’s Hump Day! I hope your day is starting off well.

My day started with prayer. Well, okay, I did brush my teeth and get breakfast first. Then I went outside to start the car. The old one. The one that got a new battery yesterday. That’s when the revival started. Oh, the battery worked fine. But apparently when I opened everything up yesterday to replace it, Mother Nature filled the fuel intake with something cars don’t like.

That’s why I don’t like working on my own car. Well, that and the rusted battery clamp that won’t tighten down. It’s good enough to make contact and spin the starter, but just loose enough to leave me stranded the first time it snows. And, as luck would have it, that’s supposed to happen tonight. Lovely.

I used to do all the work on my cars. Not because I particularly enjoyed it, but there was a time in life when I couldn’t afford a mechanic. You know, like yesterday. Okay, I could have let somebody else change the battery, but the car wouldn’t start, and my wife isn’t willing to push it to the shop. Hey, somebody has to drive.

I learned to work on cars out of necessity. And that’s when I earned my Master’s in profanity. Mark Twain once said you never really learn how to swear until you learn how to drive. Wrong. Drivers are amateurs. Try replacing the front hub on a Dodge truck after road salt has worked its magic on aluminum and steel parts. I didn’t own a sledgehammer until that day. I do now.

My grandson wanted to help. He was only ten at the time, and better at asking questions than turning a wrench. Still, I was happy to have the company. The instructions said to remove three bolts and slide the hub off. The instructions lied. My daughter asked me afterward if I taught him any new words. No, he already knows the words. But I did teach him about proper usage.

That was the day I decided I’m done working on cars. Okay, that’s the day I said I was done working on cars. A month later I had to replace the other hub. And four years after that, I had to do it again. Both sides. Over the years I owned that truck, I replaced parts I’ve never seen on any other vehicle. That truck was the epitome of Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong …

Okay, so I’m sure the good folks at Dodge Motor Company would prefer that I didn’t publish this piece, but that’s what they get for making that piece. Still, that’s not really the point I wanted to make. Let’s just say sometimes life has its little bonuses, okay?

There are things we do throughout life that we’d rather not do, but for one reason or another, we have to. Like eating broccoli and paying bills. But beyond that, there are those things that we do simply because somebody has to do it and the kids have moved out. Until two years ago, my grandson still thought it was fun to mow the lawn. Guess who does it now?

I have a good friend who, as she and her husband built an extremely successful business, has built a list over the years of things she’ll never do again. I would imagine scrubbing around the base of the toilet is near the top of that list. With four kids, including a couple of boys, I’m sure she did that a time or two. But now she doesn’t have to. That’s the beauty of success.

Are there things you do that you’d rather not do? Could a little extra income give you some options in that regard? Nobody likes to waste money, but I’ve come to the realization that whatever a mechanic charges to climb under my car, he earns. And it’s worth it to me to sit comfortably in the customer lounge reading a book while he does the dirty work.

My list of things I’ll never do again is pretty short, but it is getting longer with age. How about yours? Do you have a list of things you’d rather hand off to somebody else? Would a little extra money let you do it? You know, money is a renewable resource, and you’re allowed to have as much as you want. You just have to be willing to earn it. And that’s where we seem to come up short.

We all have to do things we’d rather not do. But that list gets smaller when you tackle the things that are standing in your way today and make them work to your advantage. They may seem unpleasant at first, but in time they’ll be as routine as turning a wrench. You may never come to love doing them. But just think how many others you can check off along the way.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Sing Loud, Sing Proud – But Don’t Quit Your Day Job

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

Every now and then, I think about the day I went in for brain surgery. Minor surgery, the doctor assured me. I’m not sure if that was genuine reassurance or his assessment of my intellect. I still remember him coming into pre-op and telling me, “I just did the same surgery on another patient.” He didn’t say if that patient was still alive. Still, it beats, “I slept in a Holiday Inn Express last night.”

That said, I still looked around the operating room before they put me to sleep to make sure there wasn’t a YouTube video playing or a copy of Brain Surgery for Dummies on the table. There are certain times in life where experience beats a good notebook, and that was one of those times.

There’s an old saying among race car drivers – run what you brung. Basically, what it means is if you were able to get the car to the track in one piece and all four wheels are still attached, get out there and drive it just as fast as you possibly can. Fender falling off? Duct tape. Cracked windshield? Duct tape. Leaky fuel tank? Duct tape. I’m joking. You need Silly Putty for that.

But the message is pretty clear. We all come into the game each day with a certain set of assets. They may be inherent talents, things we’ve learned over the years, big muscles, or the ability to outrun people with big muscles. Regardless, those assets are what we have to work with. And when our abilities come up a little short – duct tape. Fake it till you make it. Get the job done.

I’ve always been pretty handy with tools, and there’s not much I’m afraid to tackle. That doesn’t mean I really know what I’m doing, but nine times out of ten I can get the job done right. My wife knows this, which is why she insists I test drive the car after I replace her brakes. Besides, she knows I’ll hide all those “spare parts” before she can see them.

What’s so hard about using tools? Well, give my brother a screwdriver and hammer and then just stand back. Way back. And be sure whatever he’s fixing will fit in the trash can when he’s done. My dad has patiently worked with him over the years, and he’s now reasonably safe with a screwdriver and a set of wrenches. But hammers are still a big no-no.

That doesn’t make him any less a man. It just means he’s not the person you want working on your own brakes. There are things he can do that I’d never be able to do as well. And that doesn’t make me any less a man. Okay, it makes me feel a little inferior, but then I look in my toolbox and realize I can identify 90% of what’s in there, and I feel pretty smug.

If you’ve ever watched any of the talent shows on TV, you’ve undoubtedly seen some people who are truly gifted and others who are truly clueless. Some are destined for stardom, and others are destined for Burger King. “Would you like fries with that?” And the only difference between them is the realization of their natural talent, and what they choose to do with it.

I wish I could sing. So does the choir director. But that’s not my strongest talent. I wish I could hit a golf ball in a straight line. So do the people living alongside the golf course. Again, it’s not my strong suit. That doesn’t stop me from singing or playing golf. It just means I have to keep my day job and be the best at that. Run what you brung. It’s more intelligent than it sounds.

In his book Put Your Dream to the Test, John Maxwell writes, “When you build on your strengths, the activities using those strengths come more easily to you.” That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to expand our strengths, but recognizing and optimizing our strengths is the more realistic path to achieving our dreams.

Find what you’re good at and do it better than anybody else. You have a unique combination of talents that nobody else has and, for that very reason, nobody else can put those talents to use quite as well as you can. Match your dreams to your talents, and success is pretty much yours to claim.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Only A Habit If You Want It

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

I’ve learned that I’m a morning person. Anybody who knew me forty years ago would say no way. I could sleep till noon and not even feel bad about it. Dad used to tell me I’d be late for my own funeral. I always wondered, what’s the downside to that? If the date for my funeral has already been set, I don’t see any advantage in getting there early. Just start without me.

I have to admit, though, I took sleeping late to an art. Hey, if you’re gonna do something, do it right. The only problem is, people at work have this thing they call a schedule and they sit there with a cup of coffee, staring at the clock, getting madder by the minute because Dave’s late. Like you can’t do anything till I get there? Just jump right on in. I don’t mind.

I remember standing inspection in the Navy and, as the admiral passed by, he looked at the hash mark on my lower sleeve indicating that I’d been in at least four years. Then he looked at my chest and said, “Where’s your Good Conduct Medal, sailor?” I mumbled something full of consonants that sounded vaguely like, “I dmthvon, sir.” Excuse me? “I don’t have one, sir!”

And, here’s the thing. You don’t have to do anything special to get that medal. All you have to do is stay out of trouble. I couldn’t even handle that. And with one exception that we won’t discuss here because it’s still not legal in all fifty states, every time I got in trouble it was for sleeping late.  

Alarm clock, you say? Oh, I had a bunch of those. And I wasn’t stupid enough to get one with a snooze feature. Although, I have to admit, about the sixth time that went off, my roommates would have fixed the problem for me. No, I had one with a clanging bell that’ll wake the dead. In another county. Yeah, it woke me up. Just enough to slap the button and go back to sleep.

The boss finally came up with a solution. Put Dave on night shift. Oh, that worked like a charm! I could sleep past noon and still make it to work on time. You play the hand you’re dealt, right? Only problem is, my wife still thought I was supposed to do things around the house, and that messed up my sleep cycle completely. I finally had to learn to function like a normal adult.

That all changed the day I quit smoking. Well, two days later. I woke up at six in the morning, wide awake, and fully rested. Okay, I’d gone to bed 12 hours earlier, because I found that the best way to beat the nicotine fits was to sleep through them. But something happened that day. I was awake. I had energy. I could smell things. Oh, could I smell things! Time for a shower!

From that day on, I never overslept for anything. I haven’t used an alarm clock in almost 20 years. Of course, the older you get, the less you need one anyway because sleeping is about like riding a city bus. It stops at every intersection whether it needs to or not. All you have to do is pay attention and get off at the right stop, and you’ll never be late for anything.

All through life, we change. Things that used to be a challenge are instinctive, and things that used to be instinctive are a challenge. If you’ve ever seen me try to run, you’d know that. And then along comes the doctor telling us we have to stop doing the things that got us this far in life because, apparently, where we are isn’t exactly where we should be.

Some of it is simply the aging process, and the rest is just habits – things we do without even thinking about them. And the thing with habits is that, even though they seem to be instinctive, they’re really just a behavior that’s been repeated so many times it becomes instinctive. And all it takes to change a habit is to change the behavior and then repeat it. Over, and over, and over.

There are things we can’t control, and aging is one of them. But there’s very little in our daily routine that we can’t change if the reason is strong enough. Changing a habit because somebody tells you to inevitably leads to failure. But making a change because you want to leads to another habit – the habit of success. Focus on the reason, and you’ll always reach the goal.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Get Out Of Your Head – You’re Making a Mess!

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

Have you ever come up with an idea, something that excites you beyond belief, and you just can’t wait to get started? It usually happens early in the morning or later in the evening. You know, as you’re getting ready to go to work or to bed and there’s nothing you can do about it for at least eight hours. By then, you’re already starting to have doubts. Naturally!

And it’s not because the idea changed. It’s the same as it was when you first thought of it. The timing hasn’t changed, aside from the eight hours you spent talking yourself out of it. Your bank balance is pretty much the same, unless you polished off a bottle of wine as you enjoyed some late-night shopping. So, what’s different now? Why is that great idea suddenly so bad?

It’s simple. You got inside your own head and killed the dream before it even got a chance to breathe. Way to go! You just saved yourself years of agony and millions of dollars, not to mention the ridicule of all those people whose opinions matter more than your own. Thank God you came to your senses in time! This could have been a catastrophe.

So, you go back to whatever it is you were doing. You know, something you had already decided wasn’t quite good enough, which is why you came up with the idea in the first place. You wanted something better. Something that would get you out of bed every morning with a smile on your face, just thinking of all those people who said you could never do it. You rock!

And maybe the idea wasn’t perfect. It happens. But you’ll never really know unless you give it a try. And then keep trying until you get it right. From the beginning of time, people dreamed of soaring with the birds. Oh, they tried. Some with less fanfare than others. I mean, jumping off a cliff while madly flapping your arms certainly makes a statement. Yet, here we are.

Motivational speakers always tell you to be careful who you let inside your head, because people can kill your dreams. They don’t mean to. It just happens. But sometimes, the worst person you can let inside your head is yourself. If killing our own dreams were an Olympic event, some of us would have enough gold medals to fill an entire room. You should see mine.

So, why? Why is it that we look so desperately for something to make life better, and then pass on everything that comes along? Or worse yet, we get started just long enough to convince ourselves it was a bad idea to begin with, and then we share that insight with everybody we know. “Don’t fall for that one. I tried!” No, you didn’t. All you did was trip over the first excuse.

But if you clear the clutter out of the way, you can usually see past the negativity. Sometimes, the one thing that stops us from moving forward on anything is other people. We like to think we’re free spirits, but we rely on other people’s opinions like a teenager relies on their cell phone battery. What will they say? They’ll laugh. I just know it! How will I ever hold my head up again?

Well, get a clue. Unless they’re paying your bills, they don’t have an opinion – all they have are excuses. And the whole time you’re licking your wounds and wondering why this just didn’t work, they’re sitting in front of the TV with a beer, never giving it a second thought. Not because you let them get inside your head – because you let yourself get inside.

Until we can take ownership of our failures, we can never get on the path to success. And those failures begin and end inside our own head. The path may stray outside for others to dump their litter, but once we accept that litter as our own, the dream begins to die.

Other people can only litter your path with the garbage you give them. If you throw it away yourself, they’ll never get the chance. It’s your dream. It’s your life. It’s your head. You set the rules. And as long as you play by those rules, you’ll always come out on top.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved