Success is a Series of Last-Minute Miracles

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

The month is a little more than half-over. Depending on your perspective, that can be a good thing or a challenge. For those who depend on a monthly check to arrive in the mailbox, it puts you that much closer to payday. For those of us with monthly goals, it means crunch time is fast approaching. Especially if you haven’t even started. And for some folks, it’s just another day.

I guess there’s something to be said for living one day at a time, with no real burning desires or goals to work toward. It’s a peaceful existence, one that doesn’t take a lot of thought and doesn’t run much risk of disappointment. But you have to admit, it is a little passive. Like riding in the backseat and hoping the driver wants to go the same place you do. Otherwise, it could be a long day.

Goals are what make us get up a little earlier and work a little later. And I know, unless you’re already doing those things, it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. In talking with people, one of the greatest objections I hear when it comes to working toward their goals is, “I’m already busy enough. I don’t have time for anything else.”

I get it. We’re all busy. And the last thing anybody wants to think about at the end of a long day is getting out and working more. But that’s what it takes. One thing all star athletes have in common is the inner drive to keep going when others would say “that’s good enough.” While others head to the locker room for a nice long shower. They stay out there and give a little bit more. Every. Single. Day.

And make no mistake. They all miss goals on a regular basis. At different points in his career, Babe Ruth was known as the king of strikeouts. During five seasons, he struck out more than any other player in the American League, whiffing at the plate 1,330 times in his career. He also hit 714 home runs, a record that would stand for 40 years. Which do you think people remember?

We all miss goals. All that means is we’re setting goals high enough that it’ll take a little extra effort to reach them. If you never miss a goal, you’re setting the bar too low. Try a little harder. Reach for something that’s a little out of reach and don’t stop until you get there. Swing at the fast pitch. Throw the long pass. You may miss more times than you score, but those wins will be well worth celebrating.

In a CD by one of my favorite motivational speakers, he talked about receiving an email from a protégé who had set an impressive goal for the month but was writing to let his mentor know he wouldn’t make it. He tried to cushion the fall by saying, “I’ll still reach this lower goal, but I won’t be able to do what I said I was going to do.” Does that sound familiar?

And I’ll never forget that speaker’s advice. He simply said, “You set a goal and told a lot of people you were going to accomplish that goal. It’s okay if you come up short as long as you go down swinging. But don’t pull the ripcord at 25,000 feet.” That last sentence hit me right between the eyes. Don’t pull the ripcord at 25,000 feet. I think we’ve all done that more times than we’d care to admit.

We all love the story of a team that goes into the last few minutes of a game they were certain to lose, only to fight back and win in the final seconds. All because they refused to lay down and accept defeat. Failure is never certain until we stop trying. If we pull the ripcord too soon, we may soften the fall. But we’ll never know how much closer we could have gotten to an amazing achievement.

Set your goals high. Get up a little earlier. Work a little later. If what you’ve been doing all these years hasn’t put your dreams within reach, go the extra mile. And once you start, don’t let anything stand in your way. Fight through to the very end. You may come up a little short, and that’s okay. It’s still closer than you were, and with every step you take, your dream is that much closer to reality.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Can Make it to the Finish Line, You Win

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

Not long ago, a friend at work was training for a marathon. I remember thinking I’d like to be able to do that someday. Not because I love running – I’d rather get another vasectomy. And I couldn’t win if everybody else made ten wrong turns and took a nap in the middle. I’d like to be able to do it just to prove to myself that I can.

Now, let’s set some expectations. In my case, “running” a marathon would include 100 yards of light jogging at the start, followed by several miles of walking at various levels of slowness, with a halfhearted jog in the final 50 yards. And maybe a few jogs in the middle if there’s a particularly attractive woman looking my way. You know, like Sandra Bullock. In a bikini.

I don’t know that I’ll ever run a marathon, or even a half-marathon. But I would like to get out and do a 5k walk. My doctor says walking is healthy. He says it’ll make me lose weight. Well, the jury is still out on that, because either the doctor or my bathroom scale has been lying. But I do find that I’m able to get through cold and flu season mostly unscathed. That’s worth a few blocks after lunch.

I also take vitamins – really good vitamins that have proven their value over and over. I knew I was onto something when the doctor looked at my blood test results and smiled. He never smiles. My numbers aren’t perfect, but they’re a lot better than they were before. And at this age, better is good enough. Better can add a few years to your life and ward off infirmity a few years longer as well.

Sometimes, it’s not about the win, but simply staying in the game. I used to watch NASCAR races every week. Invariably, people would spin out and crash into the wall, and cars would be completely demolished. The team would work feverishly to get their car back on the track, no matter how long it took. Meanwhile, the rest of the field kept racking up the laps.

Finally, you’d see the car come back out, looking like a bulldozer held together with duct tape. The front bumper was hanging off, the hood was crumpled, the back end looked like it had been smacked by a freight train, and every side panel was rippled like a crinkle-cut French fry. The engine was smoking, and the car could barely run the speed limit. You know, in a residential area.

And you’d have to wonder why they even bothered. There’s no way they could win the race. Sometimes, they were so far behind they couldn’t even add a single point to their total for a possible run at the season championship. They were on the track for one reason and one reason only – they came there to race. And as long as the car was able to complete a single lap, they were going for it.

We face similar decisions all through life. We start something we know we can’t finish, but we try anyway. The boss gives us a job we’ve never done before with an impossibly short deadline. We know we’ll never get it all done in time, but we give it our best. And somehow, in the 11th hour, things start going our way and we get a lot more done than we’d ever imagined. Maybe not all, but enough.

If you think about it, I’m sure you can come up with several examples of that in your own life. So, let me ask you a question. What personal goals have you set aside year after year, simply because you can’t see yourself ever crossing the finish line? Or maybe you just realized it would take several years to get it done and you’re waiting to find a shortcut that’ll get you there faster. Meanwhile, nothing gets accomplished.

I’ve been trying for several years to lose weight. By that I mean I’ve been thinking and talking about it for several years. And along comes the doctor, telling me that I should set a goal of losing 1-2 pounds per month. “But it’ll take TWO YEARS to do that! I can’t wait that long!” Well, you know what? If I’d started two years ago, I’d be a lot closer to my goal today. Maybe not all, but enough.

Sometimes it’s not about coming in first, but simply making it to the finish line. It’s about setting a goal, and not letting anything keep you from trying. You may fall down. You may spin out. And you may even hit a concrete wall. But as long as you’re willing to get back in there and give it your best, you win. Put together enough of those little wins and nothing can stand in your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Brightest Bulb Needs Electricity to Shine

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

Have you ever watched a flock of geese migrating south for the winter and wondered why they always fly in a “V” formation? As it turns out, it has little to do with organization and making sure everybody has a good view. It’s all about splitting the wind resistance between them so the whole group covers more miles with less energy. It’s about teamwork.

Stock car drivers do the same thing. When you see a line of several cars running bumper-to-bumper, they’re not trying to spin one another out. They save that for the last lap. Besides, who wants a car spinning inches in front of you when you’re motoring along at a leisurely 180 mph? Again, it’s about teamwork. The same act that would land you in jail on the street gets them to the finish line faster.

Rarely do you see anybody achieve success completely on their own. The best quarterback in the world will never complete a pass without some great blockers. And the strongest linebacker would have to chase every ball carrier to the goal line if not for a defensive line that can take break up the play at the line of scrimmage. No matter how good you are, it still takes a team to win.

It’s one thing to show up and do your best. That’s something we should all do every day. But it’s not much of a race if only one person crosses the finish line and the rest can’t get out of second gear. You may win the race, but the bragging rights just aren’t quite the same. And odds are, the grandstands will be empty long before the race is over. So much for those post-race autographs.

We’ve all been in situations like that where, for one person on the team, it’s not as much about getting the job done as outshining everybody else on the team. Sometimes it’s passive, where they simply run off on their own and leave everybody else to figure it out. And other times it’s a little more nefarious. Believe it or not, there are people out there who will trip the fastest runner to win.

Either way, the result is the same. The job gets done, but not as quickly or as well as it could have. And guess what happens the next time the same job needs to be done? That star player is right back where they started. They can’t achieve the next higher goal because they’re stuck doing the job they didn’t help others learn to do just as well.

Sometimes, we have to be willing to step down in order to step up. When we take time to raise up those around us, it raises the collective average and we all attain a greater level of success as a result. Sure, it’s great to be able to throw that epic pass that the fans will be talking about for weeks. But what good is it if the other team goes home with the win?

Go to the practice field of any winning team and you’ll see the star players out there teaching the rookies a few tricks. Sure, it takes a little away from their own training. But they know that, in the end, it’s not about being the fastest or the best – it’s about winning the game. And the best players know it’s hard to reach the goal line when you’re tripping over the fallen bodies of your own team.

We all want to be our very best. We want people to respect our talent and, whether we’ll admit it or not, we all want recognition for a job well-done. But it’s easier to climb a mountain with a little help. And once you find a way to the next level, it’s your job to show the others how you got there. You may reach the top on your own. But it’ll take a lot longer and you’ll be all alone when you do.

If you want to elevate yourself, start by elevating those around you. Find the person who needs your help the most. It may distract you from your immediate goal, but in the long run the whole group will run faster and smoother as a result.

It takes a lot of energy for a locomotive to pick up speed, but once it gets up to speed, it’s able to dial back the energy and rely on the momentum of the entire train to keep moving. And the trip isn’t a success unless the entire train reaches its destination. Even that rusty old boxcar with the clackety wheels at the end.

We shine as individuals, but we win as a team. Raise up those around you, and you raise yourself in the process. You may rise up by climbing on somebody else’s back, but you’ll both reach greater heights if you help them stand tall in the process.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Winners Always Win – And So Can You

Good morning. It’s Hump Day and we’re halfway to the weekend. I hope your day is starting off just right.

As you look forward to your day, there are things you know will happen. They’re just certain. You’ll eat. You’ll have to use the restroom. Somebody will cut you off in traffic, and for a moment you’ll be upset about it. These things are as certain as the sunrise. Even when the sun is hiding behind clouds, you know it’s there.

Mom always used to say there are three things in life that are certain – death, taxes, and changing planes in Atlanta. You can complain about them. You can even try to avoid them. But unless you choose to live under a rock, those three things will be a part of your life at some point. Okay, the first one happens regardless, but you get the point.

But good things happen, too. You woke up this morning. That’s always a good thing. Odds are the car will start when you turn the key. Traffic may be heavy, but you’ll get there. Somebody will smile at you during the day, and that odd person who wants to be everybody’s friend will stop by to say hi. Certain things are just … well, certain. You can count on them like clockwork.

Have you ever met somebody who just can’t seem to lose? No matter what they touch, it turns to gold. They get all the breaks. They have the perfect job, they live in the perfect home, and drive an awesome car. They eat cake and never get fat, they run and never get tired, and they always have the perfect solution to any problem. Nothing ever seems to bother them. Must be nice!

Part of it is perspective While you’re complaining about heavy traffic, they’re saying, “Where? I didn’t have any problems at all today.” And you know you both drove the same route. How is it possible that they didn’t hit any traffic? Well, maybe their perspective is a little different than yours. If they grew up in Los Angeles, any traffic that moves is pleasant.

It’s also possible that they were too busy singing along with their favorite songs on the radio to even notice the traffic. Or maybe they were listening to a motivational CD, where somebody else is telling them they can have anything they want, and then tells them how to do it. Sure, they see all the cars, and they stop at the red lights. But they’re too busy thinking about good things to notice the bad.

Successful people all share a few common characteristics. At the top of the list is belief. They don’t just think it’s possible they can accomplish a goal, they believe it’s a sure thing. Other people may get a chuckle out of their enthusiasm, but it doesn’t even faze them. They just keep doing what needs to be done and end up laughing all the way to the bank.

Armed with that belief, they do what it takes to succeed. It’s not hard when you know the inevitable result. If the boss offered to send you on your dream vacation at the completion of a project, how hard would you work to make that happen? On the other hand, if the boss said, “Hard work gets noticed around here,” the reward is a little less certain. Successful people keep the goal in front of them all the time. They know the outcome – they just haven’t attained it yet.

Finally, successful people don’t get mired down in the details. Yes, traffic is heavy. And how, exactly, is that impacting their ability to succeed? A year from now, as they check in at the airport for that dream vacation the boss never promised, will they even remember this morning’s traffic? No, because their mind is already too busy thinking about the next goal.

A friend of mine often asks what your goals would be if you knew you couldn’t fail. I have that little gem on a note at my desk. If you knew success was inevitable, as certain as sunrise, taxes, and changing planes in Atlanta, what would your goals be? Do you think just maybe you’d be setting them a little higher?

You see, the successful person accomplishes all those amazing things for one simple reason – they decided to do it. They took that first step because they knew they could take the last. Every step in between is just part of the journey. And if heavy traffic gets in their way, they simply find a way around or use that time to plan the next move. Belief, action, and resolve. Those are the traits of a winner.

What goals would you set if you knew you couldn’t fail? You were born to win, and there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. Aim high, believe in yourself, and don’t let anything get in the way. You’ve got this!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Every Score Can Be a Winning Score

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

A good start for me is going through my morning routine, and then sitting down to hammer out a few words for you. It’s become such a part of my day that, on weekends, I’m almost lost without it. But I figure we all need a break, and it gives my mind a couple of days to just reflect and see what the new week brings my way.

One of my greatest concerns each morning is making sure I can write something that’s worthy of the time and effort, and something that you’ll find worthy of your own time in reading it. There are days when I’m just not sure about that, but the clock says it’s time to wrap it up and leave for work, so I take what I’ve got, polish up a paragraph here and there, and just run with it.

And it’s funny. On the days when I think I’ve hit a grand-slam, response isn’t always what I’d expected. And on days when I think, “Well, there’s always tomorrow,” you folks seem to find some hidden gems that I wasn’t sure I planted. Sometimes, you just never know.

It seems to go that way through life. The gift that you picked out at the end of an exasperating several hours of shopping, simply because the store was about to close and time had run out, is often the gift that receives the best reaction. “Really? You wanted a new toaster? I had no idea!” Okay, I threw that one in for fun. Guys, don’t follow my gift advice. It’ll get you in trouble.

But the point is, you never know what another person is looking for or may need until you put it in front of them. Each of us are very different, and what makes one person shrug their shoulders will often make another person’s day. And, on any given day, most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

A couple of years ago, my grandson was telling me about some new sneakers he wanted. I had learned by then that, if they were worthy of his attention, the price tag was at least half of what I pay for my car each month. These things should be come with a full matching wardrobe. But he’d look at the “sale” price and say, “That’s a good price! These shoes are worth almost $400!”

Now, at the risk of offending some footwear aficionados, there is not a pair of sneakers on the face of the earth that’s “worth” anywhere near that amount of money. If you were to take the cheapest shoes and the most expensive, the difference in manufacturing cost is probably less than $20. I tried explaining that to him, but beauty is in the eye of the teenager who thinks it’ll improve their image.

I remember him showing me online reviews. “See, these are really good! Everybody that has a pair loves them!” Sure, you probably won’t find too many people who are willing to admit they spent that much money on a pair of shoes that weren’t worth the cost. And, expectations play a huge role in our perception. If you think you got a bargain, you did. At least in your own mind.

But I told him that, when you read online reviews, skip the best and the worst, and focus on what’s in the middle. Because that’s where the rest of us spend our days – somewhere in the middle. And when something adequate but unremarkable comes along, we tend to quietly accept it and move on. But sometimes, that’s exactly what we need.

You don’t find too many people raving about a specific brand of canned green beans, but nearly every grocery store in the nation stocks the same brands. Why? There’s nothing all that special about them. But people keep coming back to buy more, without fanfare and without the need for a massive advertising blitz. It doesn’t have to be spectacular. It just has to satisfy the need.

We all want to hit a home run in most things we do, especially in those things that come from within. But, as I mentioned several days ago, the Baseball Hall of Fame opens its doors to players who can get on base one time out of three. You don’t have to hit a home run every time. You just have to give it your best and be ready to run the bases when you do connect.

In a world that rewards excellence, it’s sometimes hard to know our own value, especially when we think we fall somewhere in the middle. As others rise to the top, we may wonder, “What’s wrong with me?” But the truth is, every one of us has value far beyond what we know. Tap into that value, and it’ll take you to the top of your own mountain.

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

Build Those Invisible Results

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

Today begins a new month and, for anyone who started a New Year’s resolution, it’s a critical milestone. If you’re still sticking to your plan, congratulations! Whatever it is you wanted to change has now become a part of who you are. It’s a habit and, as you know by now, habits can be hard to break. So, give yourself a pat on the back.

If you’re back to square one, you’re not alone. According to a January 2019 article by Inc Magazine, the failure rate for resolutions is about 80%. For most of us, getting started isn’t the hard part. But by mid-February, most of us lose our resolve. Change takes work. And sometimes, it’s easier to just stick with what we know.

Part of the problem with resolutions is that we can be a bit unreasonable. We expect too much and set ourselves up for failure in the process. If you haven’t been to a gym in the past five years, getting there five days a week is asking a lot. Maybe a goal of at least two days a week would have been more realistic. If things are going well, you can always build from there.

Also, as we’ve discussed a few times in the past, when you give yourself a whole year to make a change, there’s no pressure. You’ve got all the time in the world, and if you haven’t even begun by now, there’s still time. But when you make Monday morning resolutions, you’re under a much tighter deadline and are less likely to just blow it off.

But I think the biggest challenge in sticking to change is our need for immediate gratification. You’re eating healthier, you’re walking more every day, you’ve cut back on the snacks, but the morning trip to the bathroom scale doesn’t show any progress at all. After seven days of that, your brain says this just isn’t working. At that point, quitting can even make sense.

What we fail to recognize sometimes is that you have to build a foundation before you can raise a building. What you’re doing today may not be evident for a week or two, maybe even longer depending on what you’re trying to change. Most doctors agree that the weight loss (or gain) you see this week is the result of what you did last week. It doesn’t show up right away.

And that’s with weight loss, where results can be measured every day. What about things where the results are a little harder to see? Like eating more vegetables to improve your health or studying for an exam that’s three months away? Your immune system is getting stronger, and your brain is being filled with knowledge. But how do you measure that?

Oftentimes, we don’t know the good we’ve done for ourselves until it’s crunch time. When everyone in the house is sneezing and coughing, you breeze through unscathed. You get your test score and you passed with flying colors. That’s when all the seemingly invisible work you were doing pays off.

But what if you got sick anyway? What if you failed the test miserably? It happens. When my daughter went through nursing school, she was devastated to find that she’d failed her microbiology class. In fairness, it’s very common for students to fail that class first time around. Some things are a lot more difficult than others.

It’s easy to get discouraged. You begin to wonder if anything you do will make a difference. Maybe this just isn’t your thing. And that, my friends, is where the rubber meets the pavement. Either you get some traction and get moving again or go sliding off into a ditch. Or, you decide not to take a risk at all and just sit there in the middle of the road watching life pass you by.

My daughter took that class again the next semester and passed. She’s a Registered Nurse today and has risen to the top of her career path. Because she had a goal and wasn’t going to let a setback end her dream. And in overcoming that setback, she learned just how strong she really is.

We’ve all got that strength inside us. We’re born with it and it never completely goes away. It’s what gave you the determination to sit, crawl, walk, and talk. All major events in a child’s development, and all things where early failures made the task seem monumental. But you did it anyway, because you refused to quit.

Challenges are a part of life. And sometimes we need to build a foundation to stand on before we can step over them. Just because you don’t see results today, that doesn’t mean they’re not building beneath the surface. Keep your eye on the goal and find that inner strength. The results will come. And all those challenges you faced will make them that much sweeter.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved