Try Something New Today!

Good morning! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.

I’ve spent the past five weeks doing something different. I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s something I’ve known for several years I needed to do. Like most others, though, it’s always easier to stick with the status quo and blame a lack of progress on fate or just bad luck. “This just wasn’t meant to happen.” Sound familiar?

But I’m learning as I get older that everything is “meant” to happen. From the moment we’re born, life presents a never-ending series of paths we can follow that lead to a predefined destination. As infants, a lot of those paths are chosen for us. But by the time we’re able to start making even the most minor decisions for ourselves, we begin to work toward some destination.

If you were on a trip and suddenly realized the setting sun was on the wrong side of the car, would you keep driving and hope that nature and celestial reality would suddenly change to match the path you’re on? Or would you stop and ask directions? Okay ladies, I asked that question just for you because everybody knows men don’t ask for directions.  We just pay closer attention to the signs.

But sooner or later, you’d have to change direction or end up someplace you really didn’t want to go. And, depending how far you’ve gone in the wrong direction, you may have to take a route you’ve never followed before to get yourself headed in the right direction. It’s a little scary sometimes. The unknown always is. But you’ll see plenty of new things along the way.

According to Thomas Jefferson, to have something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done. There are a lot of truth in those words. Another way of saying that is “to go someplace you’ve never gone you must be willing to follow a path you’ve never known.” Okay, I like T.J.’s quote better. But you get the idea.

It’s our willingness to try something new that gives voice to our imagination. It’s what makes us good at our jobs. It’s what makes us fun to be around. And it’s what led us to this exact moment in life. We don’t always want to take the credit (or blame) for our current circumstances, but there’s no escaping the fact that decisions made and actions taken have shaped our destiny.

If you’re perfectly happy with where you are and have no desire to move beyond this point in life, the good news is you don’t have to change a thing. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing. But if you want to experience new things before this ride is over, you have to be willing to try something new. Even if your current direction is spot-on, moving forward means covering new ground.

For most people, one of our greatest fears is fear of the unknown. You see something interesting, or somebody suggests something a little out of the ordinary, and your imagination goes into overdrive. “Look at the possibilities! But what if it doesn’t work? If it was that easy, everybody would be doing it. There has to be a catch. But it sure would be nice …” We’ve all been there. It happens every time.

With anything new, there will always be a certain element of risk. And, let’s be honest, there are some things none of us should ever attempt. We have to assess the situation and ask ourselves a critical question – what do I stand to lose if this goes terribly wrong, and am I willing to take that risk? Sometimes, the answer is obvious. Walk away.

But more often than not, the answer is that if the worst were to happen, you’d just dust yourself off and walk away a little wiser. Or maybe you’d tweak your approach and keep working toward the same goal. Because, whether the approach is working or not, the goal never really changes. You just have to adapt and try something new.

My mom always used to ask, “Will this matter twenty years from now?” It’s a good way to handle spilled milk or a broken window. It’s also a great way to handle what may appear to be failures in working toward our goals. Because most times, the answer to Mom’s question is “Twenty years from now, this won’t make a bit of difference.”

When you can approach a new experience with that reality in mind, it’s easy to put risk in the proper perspective. And in doing that, you change the question from “What can go wrong” to “What could go right?” Will it matter twenty years from now if things go amazingly well? The only way to find out is to try something new. That one decision can lead you to destinations you never imagined.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Relax and Dream a Little!

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

Do you have any plans for the weekend? I hope you’re looking forward to two days of fun and relaxation. As I said yesterday, we should work to live, not just to exist. Ants work to exist. But our creator decided we’re worth more. A lot more. We should be working for some of life’s more enjoyable experiences.

At work, we affectionately refer to Thursday as “Friday Eve.” But as I was telling somebody yesterday, lately it seems Friday is just the weekend’s Monday. That’s when all the work we didn’t get finished during the week (or that somebody else forgot to assign) hits like a ton of bricks. It seems everybody is scraping their plate right onto yours.

By the end of the day, we NEED a weekend. We go home too tired to do much of anything except slump down in a recliner and watch TV until bedtime, promising ourselves we’ll get up tomorrow morning and do something enjoyable. You know, like grocery shopping, laundry, mowing the lawn, or painting the porch railing … fun stuff.

But if you don’t do the work that needs to be done at home, who’s gonna do it? The answer to that question, for most of us, is nobody. It just won’t get done. So we spend our weekend doing all the things we didn’t have time to do during the week, and when Sunday night rolls around and we’re thinking of those fun things we wanted to do, none of them even made the list.

It’s important that we take care of the things that need to be done. It’s also important that we carve out some time for ourselves, to relax and enjoy some of what we’ve worked for. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Dinner and a movie can be nice, or a backyard cookout with family and friends. It could be as simple as taking the kids for ice cream that doesn’t come out of your own freezer.

But as you’re doing that, try something different. Instead of talking about school or work or any of the other things that need to be done at home, take some time to talk about dreams. Share some of yours, and let others share some of theirs. Okay, don’t do this during a movie – they frown on that. But the time is there anyway. Make it fun!

I’ve mentioned this before, but my dad always used to tell me, “Boy, you’re a dreamer!” He didn’t say it in a condescending way, but it was somewhat of a reminder that my goals were a bit lofty. Still, the message it conveys can often be misinterpreted. Instead of, “I hope you can accomplish all of that”, it can sound a lot like, “Get your head out of the clouds!” Is that the message we really want to send?

We should encourage one another to dream. Not just our kids, but our family, friends, co-workers, and maybe even our bosses. One of our upper-level managers at work loves fast cars. And he’s taken a couple of trips to one of those “driving experience” venues where you put on a suit & helmet and take a high-powered race car out on the track for a few laps. I bet it’s exhilarating.

Now, let me tell you, if I wanted to get him to dream a little, all I’d have to do is drop a brochure for a race car driving school on his desk. Or I could just sit down and ask him about his last experience. I can guarantee you his eyes would light up. I’ve seen it happen several times. And I’m pretty sure that, for the rest of the day, some of that excitement stays with him. It has to.

My wife and I often find ourselves talking about our dreams. It sure beats complaining about work, or what we’re going to do about that slow-running bathtub drain. It brings us closer together, because it highlights our similarities instead of our differences. We’re happier. And, because we turned our dream into a goal, everything we do is focused on making it happen.

A close friend often asks, “What would your goals be if you knew you couldn’t fail?” It’s a powerful sentiment, because the truth it implies is that there’s absolutely nothing you can’t accomplish if you set your mind to it.

Don’t just work to exist. Work to enjoy more of what life has to offer. And when you get a couple of days off, let yourself experience a little bit of that lifestyle. Work will be there when you come back. It’s not going anywhere. But think of how much more energized you’ll be when you know why you’re doing it and what’s waiting for you at the end.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Every Moment is an Opportunity

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

Yesterday was a productive day for me. I needed it. I had a hard time sleeping Sunday night, excited about all the things I was planning to do this week, and then Monday my lower back knocked me for a loop and I didn’t get anything accomplished.

We all know that feeling of going to bed, knowing you didn’t get anything done that you’d planned. I don’t know of anybody for whom time is a luxury – we’re all busy, and we need to make optimal use of our time to get things done. So, a day of inactivity hits hard. It’s more than just a feeling of laziness – it’s the realization that we missed an opportunity.

Every minute of every day, we have opportunities to do something productive. And, make no mistake, that something “productive” often comes in the form of relaxation, quality time with family, calling a friend, or even sitting on the porch and listening to the birds sing. It’s not all about how hard you can work each day.

Some opportunities are there any time we want them, at least to some degree. I can always put a movie in the DVD player and kick back with a bowl of popcorn. But I can’t always take my wife to the showing of a new movie. Between work and other obligations, opportunities to do that are limited. And when you finally do get around to it, the movie isn’t showing any longer.

So, you wait until it comes out on DVD. The movie is the same, but the experience is entirely different. Instead of the theater experience with all its excitement and anticipation, you get the home experience complete with pausing to let the dog out, answering the phone, and listening to the sounds of traffic.

It’s that way with a lot of things. Some opportunities are there once and then they’re gone forever. Others are waiting in the background, just in case you’ve changed your mind. And others, like getting the laundry done never go away.

As we’re deciding how best to use our time, it’s important to know which of those opportunities will be there every day, and which ones will be gone tomorrow. The problem is, sometimes it’s a combination of the two. The things I needed to do Monday are still there and I can do them any time I want. But Monday is gone and that puts me one day further behind.

I made up for it yesterday, and I’ll continue to make up for it the rest of the week. But, much like a feature movie, the opportunity changes over time. You can still accomplish the same goal, but not with the same effect. That’s the price of letting an opportunity slip by.

For years, my wife has dreamed of travel, both domestic and international. There’s a whole big world out there and she wants to see it. I’ve been around the world, and I’d love to go back. More than anything, I want to see her face light up as she experiences destinations she’s only seen on TV.

And that opportunity is still there. Except we’re both a lot older now, and physical limitations are beginning to set in. We can visit the pyramids but climbing to the top is out of the question. We can go to the beach, but neither of us is up to surfing. And a day taking in the sights of Rome becomes three days, simply because older people wear out and need to rest.

And here’s the thing – the same opportunities that will allow us to do those things in a year or two were at our disposal forty years ago. We just didn’t act on them. We let those opportunities slip by, always thinking “next month – next year – after the bills are paid off – after the kids are grown.” The next thing you know, forty years have passed and you’re still saying “One of these days …”

If there’s something you want, or just something you need to do, don’t let opportunities slip past. Some may be there whenever you’re ready to get started, and others just blow on by. Life happens. People grow older. Illnesses crop up. Somebody takes your spot in the road on the way to work. And all of a sudden, those opportunities are gone.

Make the most of each moment. Whether that means working or resting, dreaming or acting on those dreams, or investing in memories that will last beyond your lifetime, make the moment count. There will only be one “today.” Make the most of the opportunities that today has to offer – they’ll shape the things you can enjoy tomorrow.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Greater the Challenge, the Sweeter the Success

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend.

Did you accept my fifteen-minute challenge from Friday? I did. Okay, I spent a lot more than fifteen minutes, but the house was empty and I didn’t have anything better to do with my time, so I set about a few different tasks and got a lot done. Granted, there’s a lot more still to do, but that’s another story.

We all tend to be a little optimistic when it comes to setting goals, but then as time goes by, we begin to wonder if we were a little too optimistic. Part of the problem is that we’re content to just let time go by instead of putting it to better use. And what ends up happening is we realize we may have overcommitted, so we begin to look for ways to trim the fat. Off our goal, that is.

We compromise and bargain like a used car salesman. Only they’re trying to get more out of us, but we’re trying to get a little less. “Well, I may not make it all the way to my goal, but if I can get a little closer, that’s better than nothing, right?” Okay, that would be a true statement. Anything is better than nothing. But that doesn’t mean it’s enough.

Because every time we come up short on a goal, no matter what kind, we have to admit a certain level of defeat. And defeat is just a more passive word for failure. We didn’t exactly fail – we were defeated. And hey, that happens to the best of us. So we pat ourselves on the back for whatever we did get done, and walk away wiser and maybe even a little smug. We did all we could do.

But did we? Could we have put in a little more effort? Could we have recommitted to our goal and faced the obstacles head-on instead of just waiting for them to move? Could we have put our creative energy to good use and figured out a different approach? Could we have called a friend and asked their advice? Could we have actually followed that advice?

The truth is, any one of these things would have put us closer to our goal and may have actually seen us through to success. But it’s easier to just accept fate and tell ourselves we tried. “It’s the thought that counts.” Sound familiar? Well, that may be true … when it comes to giving someone a gift. When it comes to your goals, it’s an easy way of admitting defeat. But at least you meant well.

Right now I’m facing two monumental goals. One is a little less time-sensitive and, because of that, I haven’t been overly concerned about how quickly it gets done. Cleaning my office yesterday was just the start of my household reorganizing and de-cluttering. But if I can take a little bit at a time, as I did yesterday, it’ll get there.

The other goal is very much time-driven, and I’m a little more than halfway to the end with little to show for my effort. I’ve done all the right things, but this is one of those cases where the “right things” don’t always turn into measurable results. It’s like swinging the bat against a really good pitcher. You miss more than you hit, and when you do connect it’s rarely a home run.

When we set a goal and then allow ourselves to fall short, we re-live that moment every time we try to do anything. We’ve allowed ourselves to accept something short of what we’d deemed acceptable, and it’s not quite as hard to do that the next time. And with each of those defeats, we develop an inner expectation that, no matter what we try, we’ll always come up a little short.

Part of the answer to that is making sure your goals are realistic. But they also need to be challenging. Tying your shoes is realistic, but is it really worth celebrating? Find something that will drive you to a certain level of excellence, something that’ll take a strong level of determination. Then do it. And if you find yourself coming up short, then turn up the heat.

We were born to do great things, and to succeed in whatever we desire. And there’s no greater success than taking on something you’ve never done before, something that’ll stretch your abilities to the limit, and then doing it. Go ahead. Stick your neck out. Swing for the fence. And don’t let anything get in the way. Then listen to the crowd cheer as that ball goes sailing out of the park.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

One Bite at a Time

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

Yesterday was one of those days where the work kept coming my way faster than I could keep up. I have several things on my plate already today, and there’s no telling what else may be added to the pile. Some days are like that. And after a week of coming home each day completely caught up, I guess I can’t complain.

Toward the end of the day, it always becomes a matter of which remaining task I can complete before it’s time to go home. I think we all do that to an extent. And, because of that, we end up picking some of the low-hanging fruit instead of starting into something bigger that may have an even higher priority. It’s hard to start something you know you can’t finish.

My aunt was an amazing artist. Her oil paintings hung in some impressive galleries and sold for a nice sum of money. And I remember going into the basement where she had her studio and looking at all the paintings she’d started but hadn’t yet finished. At any given time, there were at least a dozen.

She’d paint a little every day, choosing the paintings by inspiration and which one was dry enough to work on some more. Eventually, they all turned into magnificent pieces of art. But if none of them had been started until she had time to finish, those canvases would have remained blank.

A few days ago, I added up how much I’ve written in these posts over the past sixteen months. Yes, it’s really been that long. And, all told, I’ve written the equivalent of five books, nearly a quarter-million words. I know, there are days when you feel like I put them all in the same post. Nobody has ever accused me of being at a loss for words.

As I thought about that, I thought about the books I’ve started and never finished. And every time it was the same excuse. “I’m just too busy right now – too much going on. As soon as thing settle down, I’ll get back to it.” As soon as … we talked about that a couple of days ago. Loosely translated, those words mean “probably never.”

But there’s no escaping the fact that if I’d put in the same hour each day that I spend writing these posts in the morning, I’d have finished five books by now. I’m not even sure I have five books in me, but I’d like to find out. And the nice part is I don’t have to sit in a corner hammering away at the keyboard for hours every day to do it … just one hour a day. That’s all it would take.

In my business, one of the biggest excuses I hear from associates is, “I just don’t have the time.” What they mean is they can’t drop everything and devote an entire day, or even an entire evening, to doing what needs to be done. As a result, nothing gets done and a year later they’re still staring at the same dream and thinking, “One of these days …”

But there are things that can be done in ten or fifteen minutes, small tasks that add up to big accomplishments if we just keep at it. And I don’t know of anybody who can’t find an extra fifteen minutes two or three times during the day. That little bit of effort can add up to over four hours every week. So, what could you get done in four hours? My guess is, a lot.

The weekend is here. And my challenge to you is to find one thing around the house you’ve been wanting to get done and spend just fifteen minutes working on it. Do that twice tomorrow and twice more Sunday. If you’re feeling really energetic, do it a couple more times. Then take a look at how much you’ve accomplished. You might be amazed.

A small river flowing through a bed of solid rock will eventually begin to wear that rock away. The progress may not be impressive on a daily basis, but over time it adds up until one day it becomes the Grand Canyon. Apply that same principle to the things you want to accomplish in your own life and see what kind of wonders you can work.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Sometimes the Well-Trodden Path is Still the Best

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

I’ve talked a lot this week about creativity and thinking outside the box. I guess it all goes back to the old adage that insanity is doing the same thing the same way every day and expecting different results. We all know that if we want things to change we have to try something different. But sometimes, things are working just fine and then we get creative and throw a wrench in the spokes.

When I got up this morning, the bathroom scale gave me an encouraging sign – my weight is finally starting to go back down. I didn’t really gain that much over this last stumble off the wagon, but I had been headed steadily in the right direction until I decided I was smart enough to tweak things a little. After all, will a cheeseburger and fries really make that much difference?

With most things in life, small changes can make a big difference. Sometimes we need to make those small changes to speed things up a bit. And other times, we need to just stick with what works. Anybody who’s ever started a small two-stroke engine, like that on a weed-eater, knows exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t hold your mouth just right, you’ll be there all day.

Some changes will make things better. Some don’t seem to make any difference at all, but they do. The impact just isn’t as readily apparent, but over time it’ll show. And other changes, like ditching the meal bars in favor of a cheeseburger, have exactly the result we’d expect. Granted, sometimes you need to indulge a little. But when “sometimes” becomes every day, we have a problem.

On your job, you were likely taught to do things a certain way. With many computer programs, you have to do things in a specific sequence to get the desired result. Mop the floor before you sweep it and you’ll end up with a muddy mess. And anybody who’s ever tried using vise-grips instead of a socket wrench knows the inevitable result of that mistake.

On the other hand, there was a point in history when somebody set down a hand saw, rubbed their arm, and thought, “There has to be a better way. What if the saw could move itself back and forth? But the mechanism required to do that would consume a lot of energy. So, what if we changed the shape of the saw? What if we made it a circle? Then all we’d have to do is spin it really fast.”

Granted, the saws of the day were pretty impressive. And so were the biceps of the people using them. It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention. And all through history, ordinary people have dreamed up some of the things that make our lives so much simpler every single day. Cars, airplanes, computers, power tools, kitchen appliances … the list goes on and on.

My dad was an aircraft mechanic for nearly fifty years, and he taught me most of what I know about tools and how to fix things. Granted, there came a time when I had to try something he’d never shown me, like replacing disc brakes or rebuilding an engine. But the basics of what he’d taught me were the foundation for all those new learning experiences.

I made mistakes along the way, and I’m sure he did, too. That’s all part of it. But when we learn the basics from somebody with the skills and experience to teach us right, the results can be pretty impressive. It’s when we try to toss their advice aside and do things our own way that we get in trouble.

We all know the things we should be doing. And, even though there’s that part of our brain that really wants to come up with a better way, sometimes it’s best to shut that down for the time being and just follow the plan. When the team is ahead by forty points, the coach can afford to run new plays. But when the score is zero, you stick with what works.

There’s a time for creativity and a time to just follow directions. Success is all about knowing when to do what. And, more often than not, if we just follow the lead of those who have gone there before us, we’ll at least find ourselves on the right path. Once we reach our destination, we can think about better ways to get there.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

When One Wins, We All Win

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

Ever have one of those nights when you were so excited you just couldn’t get to sleep? That’s been the story of my life for the past couple of weeks. It’s been a common theme, and you would think after a while the thought train would just slow down and whatever was keeping me awake would begin to fade.

I guess if it was the same exact thing every night, that would be the case. But it’s a little different every night, and I finally figured out why. Ladies, relax – I’m not going “there.” Yes, this is about an active imagination, but one of a completely different kind. It’s about seeing not only the dreams, but the possibilities. It’s about visualizing the means of accomplishing those dreams.

And here’s the secret – it all comes from focusing on somebody else. It comes from listening to a friend share a thought, concern, problem, or dream, and then taking an active interest in helping them come up with solutions. Because, in doing that, you inadvertently stumble upon some of the answers to your own challenges.

We’ve talked before about this concept of success through helping others succeed. When you take a vested interest in somebody else’s dreams, their dreams become your own. Not in the sense that you want the same things for yourself, but the two of you share a common goal of seeing them succeed in their own quest. And you know what they say – two heads are better than one.

Employers like to encourage us to think outside the box. As a business analyst, I often ask people why they do things a certain way. Is that the only way to do it? Is there a legal or regulatory compliance issue in doing it differently? Or is that just the way it’s always been done? Quite often, the answer is hiding behind door #3.

We laugh at images of people walking into the same door over and over, each time hoping the door will magically open. It’s even funnier when there are two doors and the one they’re banging into is clearly marked “Out.” All they’d have to do is take two steps to the side and the other door would open on the first try.

It’s easy to get tunnel vision, especially when we’re so focused on a goal (like getting inside that door) that we can’t see the possibilities right next to us. Because we’re trained to do things a certain way. In fact, we hammer it into our kids’ heads – “There’s only one way to tie your shoes! Get creative, and you’ll just make a mess. Do it the way I showed you!”

So, it’s only natural that when a person is trying to work toward a goal, they tend to get stuck on a certain path. And the road to success is rarely a straight highway with no intersections. More often than not, we have to get off that highway and take some of the less traveled roads to get where we want to be. But unless we’ve been down those roads before, we may need a little help.

And here’s where it gets to be fun. When you’re trying to solve your own problems, your willingness to try something new is pretty slim. You want to stick to the tried and true method. You know, the one that got you exactly where you are. But when you’re helping somebody else solve their problems, you can step back and view the landscape from a much higher level. You can see beyond the trees.

In helping somebody work toward their own goals, your brain is a little more willing to think outside the box and come up with ideas they’d have never thought of on their own. That gets them excited and, next thing you know, they’re thinking outside the box. And the two of you are coming up with solutions to problems you don’t even have. Today.

But you never know what you’ll run into down the road. And, believe me, the day will come when one of those ideas the two of you hammered out in a moment of desperation will be exactly what you need to overcome your own challenges. With every idea you come up with for somebody else, you come up with a few more for yourself. And that’s pretty exciting.

If you thought I was going to tell you how to fall asleep faster, I’m sorry. But hopefully, you’ll sleep a little better knowing you helped a friend, and you’ll wake up more energized knowing exactly what you need to do next. And it all comes from taking an active interest in somebody else and helping them achieve their own dreams.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved