Saturday, March 22, 2014
When I was a kid I did what I could to not work hard or even work at all. When Mom would tell me on a Saturday morning I had to go to the basement and sweep I would remind her that the allergy doctor said I was allergic to household dust. Therefore, in my mind, the logical thing to do was stay right where I was, watching Saturday morning TV on our 19 inch television. Needless to say I had to go work at cleaning my room. If I knew in time work was coming my way I hit the woods before the list of chores was handed down. Perhaps every kid has this aversion to work and why we always got mad at those “slave driving” parents of ours. Although I hated it, I remember hearing, “Things worth having are worth working for” and “If you have to work for it you will appreciate it more.” So in my family, in my wheelhouse of experiences, hard work was a great practice to exhibit. Through hard work you can get what you want and your needs are met. However all the hard working people I knew were just as poor (lower middle class sometimes) as we were. Happy, it seemed, but still poor.
As I grew the phrase, “Work smart, not hard” resonated with me because, well first off I hated hard work. But what appealed to me was it was being said by seemingly rich people. CEOs, entertainers, and well to do business executives driving nice cars living in big houses. That is what I want. I want the big house on the lake or ocean. I want the new truck and car and boat and well you get the picture. So I determined I need to develop my mind. Become smart and not have to work hard. Plans were developed. Short term as well as long term goals were listed. Books were read and sacrifices made all in the effort of working smart and not hard. Riches had to be right around the corner, right? Nope, I still had to budget. Watch my pennies (yes pennies not dollars).
Then it dawned on me, phrases like those mentioned above aren’t just clichés, they have stood the test of time for a reason. The reason is this, they go together. What I have realized is you have to work both smart and hard in order to achieve success of any kind. When you look at the areas in the lives of successful people they have been smart about the hard work they have done. They stay determined to move forward and focused on what they want to achieve then work hard at it. Plans are developed, relationships are made and meetings are strategically made all in an effort to achieve their goals set. Intelligently working hard.
I think working smart encompasses the idea of knowing when to punch the clock to go home for the evening. As a comedian I always have an “eye open” looking for a new joke premise and I would imagine successful business people are the same way. In today’s world it seems 24/7 work week is the way to go in order to get ahead then never enjoying it once you’re there. Worse yet, missing out on what is all around you now. Such a heavy effort of “working smart not hard” may not be that smart at all. We are not designed to work like that without sustaining a long term negative effects. Our burn out often sets in, relationships suffer or just end, and our bodies just wear out, even die prematurely. Working smart means knowing when to take that break to go fishing or to the kids little league game.
Let’s promote a new phrase in our pursuit of success. Let’s all work smart at working hard. In doing so our 24/7 lives will be balanced and we will be much happier.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
They call it Daylight Savings Time. I will wake up in the morning still tired wishing more sleep was in my future. While the Sun still waits to make its appearance, I’ll be sitting in my truck waiting to take my daughter to school. Sipping on a cup of hot, black coffee I begin my day. Feeling like I have lost sleep, lost daylight and wishing I could lose consciousness for a couple more hours, I get to work. The only saving grace is knowing the days seem to be longer so I have more daylight to accomplish what needs done. More daylight to see the next rung I need to take for this ladder of success. Then I get to thinking it’s odd to have more daylight when we are supposed to be saving it and what exactly are we saving it for?
Saving things is what we have done our whole lives it seems. When I was a kid I save Elvis clippings, baseball cards and a peculiar looking rock or two. As I grew I was told I need to save money for a rainy day, in case an emergency pops up you need to have it. I have a collection of toy race cars that I have saved over the years because “one day they’ll be worth something.” At least that is what I tell myself. I have a collection of John Wayne movies because, well why not? Books, oh my goodness, you should see the books I have saved over the years or even bought recently. Saving them to read and many of them to read again. Fishing lures, poles, and many other “valuable” items surround me. I have even save the first coffee cup I had a drink of coffee in. It has a crack in and leaks but I still have it.
Saving stuff. Why do we do it? Why do we put things up on a shelf or have keepsakes near us? The nearest I can figure it is, we save because it is important to us. Or the reason we are saving is worthy of the sacrifice. We sacrifice time, money, space and a variety of other interests just to save for what interests us the most. However, I was never good at saving except for what I wanted the most. Some even find that difficult even painful as they try. Ask any kid with a dollar in their pocket, they’ll tell you.
Daylight though, how do you save daylight? I have heard the expression, “Let’s get a movin’ we’re burning daylight.” But never, “Hey there, let’s be careful to save some daylight.” Who exactly are we saving it for anyway? I am not sure if we are really saving it as much as we are just moving it around so our evenings are longer and we feel like we have accomplished more with our daylight. Whatever it is, saving it or just moving it, I don’t plan on wasting any of it. I am saving too many “important” things up on a shelf afraid they will lose their value if I put them into use. But not my day. Not anymore.
I choose from henceforth to no longer save my daylight but rather I will spend it, use it and above all else enjoy it.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
It’s 3am and nothing in the refrigerator looks good for a famed “Midnight” snack. Warm milk tastes awful so insomnia will win this night, as most nights. What choice is there other than turning the TV back on, grab a glass of ice water and write. I find a biopic about Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis (one of my favorites) and settle into what can only be described as an “I hope I don’t collapse later” kind of night. It’s dark outside and I should have fallen to sleep a long time ago but alas here I am with Martin & Lewis, my computer and a cold glass of ice water.
I guess there are many causes that keeps one from getting the sleep they need. Lucky for me, I've never required much, so four or five hours is enough, I guess. But what causes insomnia or as my mom used to call it, “the big eye?” It could be a disorder, or just too much sleep the night before. Perhaps its stress or just a lot on your mind. Could there be an argument made for a bit of all of that or maybe other stuff? Maybe it’s just a colicky baby crying, a new puppy or your babies just not being babies anymore. Whatever the reason, here you sit not sleeping.
What keeps me awake at night varies from night to night. Some nights it’s my sinuses going crazy. Those nights I just hate. I can’t breathe, I can’t get comfortable and my head eventually just hurts. Other nights I lay there and just think. I think about what is on my mind, what stresses me out or a new bit for my show. Even a mind like mine can have a lot on it. There are bills that need to be paid, stress about what it will take to move my career up that proverbial ladder and then there’s the private stuff of which is none of your business. I feel like I should sleep. I yawn, feel my eyelids droop but yet can’t pull the trigger to doze off to dreamland.
So here I am doing this weekly blog, hoping you read it and know there is one other person who can’t sleep either. If I’m going to be nocturnal I figure I might as well get something done, right? I hear this is one of the characteristics of those that become great. Not necessarily the insomnia thing but the getting stuff accomplish in these moments. I was once told by one of my college professors we waste so much time in the bathroom when we don’t take something to read or work on. As weird or gross as that may sound, it’s true. Insomnia is that way as well, if I am going to sit here I might as well get something accomplished.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Its 8:30 in the morning and I am about 40,000 feet above the Carolinas as far as I can figure. Welcome to my office, my neighborhood and my mode of transportation all rolled up into one. People tell me all the time, “WOW, Vic you lead some life flying here and there seeing the country telling jokes to hundreds of people. You must have a blast doing it.” I am not going to lie, sometimes I do just sit back and think to myself, “This is pretty great.” However what a lot of people see is just the surface, just the fun side of my job. So this morning I am going to take you through my morning as I head to Zanesville, OH for a show tonight.
However this trip just didn't start this morning. It actually started yesterday when I had to pack. There’s the checking the weather so I know if I can pack shorts and flip flops which makes traveling so much easier or something a bit warmer. Then there is the show clothes that I wear, the boots, the hat then, well my signature look. If that isn't enough I have to make sure I have enough merchandise so after the show I can sell koozies, t-shirts and DVDs. I discovered I don’t have enough and not had the time to order new t-shirts (new design coming soon). But what I have I will bring to you, my fans. Now I am finished the clothes & merchandise bags, time now to move on to other chores.
My video camera needed charged so I can record my shows this weekend. I am anticipating a nice size crowd and want to submit my show to Sirius XM and 24/7 Comedy. Then I had to find my tri-pod which wasn't where it’s supposed to be but rather in my daughter’s room which I figured it was. Can’t forget about programming my GPS for all the places I need to be this weekend but I forgot one, I never can remember which exit it is to get to my Dad’s place. Age, not for the weak. Before I could even think about sleeping, I had to create an event page for a big show I am doing at the Improv in Orlando so good thing I was able to watch the rodeo on TV or otherwise the light would have seemed much longer than it was. Finally though, I was able to allow myself to relax and find sleep around 1:50am.
Yep, that’s the last time I looked at the time, well until my alarm went off at 4:30 this morning. My flight was scheduled to leave at 7:40 and I needed a shower, find my clothes and load up for the airport. Compared to all I did last night this morning was a breeze. I made it on time. Security was easier than usual so I was able to get a coffee, a banana and even peed all before I got to my gate. While there I got to watch an old cartoon with Droopy Dog, one of my favorites. Now I am on a Southwest flight in the window seat looking out the window with row 20 all to myself. But I am tired, looking forward to my hotel so maybe I can grab a quick nap before my show, probably not though. I love this life though. The places I've been, people I've met (celebrities and regular people) and stepping up on the stage makes it all worth it to me.
Next time, however, you see your favorite entertainer doing his or her thing remember there’s a lot that goes into bringing you the show and none of us would trade it for anything. We love performing and we love you, our fans.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
A quote from one of literature's greatest works, Of Mice and Men reads, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” seems fitting for this week. Every day we fill our lives up with plans. It can be just plans for the day, for vacation or even for life. I have seen people come into a theme park and be angry with a work because something has occurred that has thrown off their well laid plans for the vacation. Many a high school senior is frustrated because of the counsel they are receiving from every turn about the plan they have for their life. Then there are those who have had those plans laid out by others only to be miserable until retirement.
This morning I wrote about my two-fold plan for my career. Rather I should say, my plan was made a little more clear to me. In my morning pages, I have written about being more focused, a little more determined and a little more discipline when pursuing my dreams. However, it just dawned on me this morning I have no plan about my career to be more focused, determined and disciplined about. All I've written about was, I am going to be a comedian and writer but that is way too vague. So what will I accomplish with being obscure? Nothing. It will just allow me to spin my wheels giving the appearance of accomplishment when the reality is I’m just spinning wheels. Making a lot of racket but not going anywhere, or at least not anywhere quick.
My career plan has two major tracks – Performing & Writing. Those are the two avenues I love and feel like where my talents lie. Being on stage I am at home, comfortable. Like laying on your favorite pillow or covering with your favorite throw blanket. Whether I am on stage telling jokes or delivering a speech, performing is where I belong. I feel the same about writing. It fits me like my most favorite jacket, warm and comfortable. I have had articles published in magazines and I have this blog which I hope showcases this gift I have been given. Many have told me even encouraged me to write a book about, well, about anything. I have several titles in the works but not much more than that. When I see what is out there, I always leave the bookstore or close the book I have just finished and think, “I could do that and better.” I haven’t yet, but I will because I love it. I love them both.
So I have started developing my plan for those two tracks in my life. Plans that will give me direction and focus. Plans which will serve as benchmarks I can look at to see where I am and how well I am doing. Everyone need to have plans. Success is built on those plans. When we see someone “make it” and hear them say, “I was so lucky” or we say that about them, it really isn't being lucky, it’s working your plan and when the door is opened, having the courage, the vision, to walk through it. Another quote to keep in mind, mainly because of the last part of the earlier one, “Luck isn't given but made.” Because when those plans do go awry you are not devastated, you re-group then move forward again.
Plan for your success, don’t wait on it.