Thursday, December 1, 2016

Just One Hour A Day, Just One Hour!

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 22, 2016

I can remember it as if it were yesterday; I had a very serious conversation with my employer at the time, Dr. Tom Hill  We were having a cup of coffee at a local restaurant before we headed out to start our day of visiting local real estate offices.  We had done this many times in the past and these coffees were usually very cordial and jovial.  This morning it was different.  Dr. Tom looked at me very seriously and asked, “Jim, do you know what is wrong with you?”  The question totally caught me off guard and was very unusual when compared to other coffees and conversations we have had.  I remember responding, “I didn’t know I had a problem.  So to answer your question, no I don’t.”

That was the beginning of a conversation that changed the rest of my life.  We reviewed my life up to that point in time.  Dr. Tom pointed out that I would work very diligently at a job/position and then I seemed to reach a point where for no apparent reason, I would change directions and that usually meant leaving the job/position not to be confused with projects.  I had been so close to the “top” and then just suddenly change directions.  Then came the real question:  “Is there someone in your life or some event that would have suggested that you did not deserve to be successful?”  I have always heard of the “fear of success” but had never attributed it to me.  In fact, I never really understood how someone could actually fear becoming successful.  Sadly for me, this conversation occurred when I was about 50 years old and not when I was 30ish.  It is very easy to be a Monday Morning Quarterback and look at your woulda-coulda-shoulda’s in life; this was one of those instances. 

“All The Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin' In The Sun,
Talkin' 'Bout The Things
They Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Done...
But All Those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All Ran Away And Hid
From One Little Did.”
Shel Silverstein

Dr. Tom and I looked back over my life to try to ascertain who that person or what event that might have been.  Before I explain what or who that was, please read the following excerpt from Orison Swett Marden's book Pushing to the Front; a most amazing read that he wrote in 1911.  You can obtain a free Kindle version from

From the book, the portions emboldened were done so by me…

"Thousands of men who have been failures in life have done drudgery enough in half a dozen different occupations to have enabled them to reach great success, if their efforts had all been expended in one direction.  The mechanic is a failure who starts out to build an engine, but does not quite accomplish it, and shifts into some other occupation where perhaps he will almost succeed, but stops just short of the point of proficiency in his acquisition and so fails again.  The world is full of people who are “almost a success.”  They stop just this side of success.  Their courage oozes out just before they become expert.  How many of us have acquisitions which remain permanently unavailable because not carried quite to the point of skill?  How many people “almost know a language or two,” which they can neither write nor speak; a science or two shows elements they have not quite acquired; an art or two particularly mastered, but which they cannot practice with satisfaction or profit!  The habit of desultoriness, which has been acquired by allowing yourself to abandon a half-finished work, more than balances any little skill gained in one vocation which might possibly be of use later." 

Orison Swett Marden, wrote this in 1911.  You may know what “desultoriness” means, I didn’t when I first read it so just in case you are like me, it means: digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random.  

Dr. Tom and I later discovered that in my father's attempt to impress upon me his belief in obtaining a college education. I had strongly told him that I did not particularly want to go, he said "If you don't finish college, you will never amount to anything."  In 1963 I know he thought he was doing right by me because that is what he and most Americans thought in 1963.  But as we discussed, the comment had a very serious consequence upon my subconscious mind; the comment planted a seed or a thought and it was telling me I didn't deserve success because even though I attended college for two years, I never finished; I was drafted.  Yes, I could have returned.  I joined the U. S. Coast Guard and absolutely loved it and made it a twenty year career.  Any desire that remained within me to finish college had long since departed the depths of my mind.

My question in 2016 is where have these Marden books been; there are many of them?  This particular book was written almost 100 years ago and I am only now discovering it; where has it been?  As I read it and other books written by Marden I can't help but wonder at the possibilities of such teachings on today's youth if they were to read them early in their life instead of late in life as I did.  Sadly that is now nothing more than wishful thinking.  The lessons contained therein are in my opinion even more valuable today than when first written in 1911. Some of the numbers Marden uses would not be applicable today but the content of his writings are.  You just have to substitute today’s numbers, such as expenses used incomes earned, and you will see they are still applicable.

Presidential Candidate Dr. Ben Carson said that he and his mother and brother lived in a bad part of Detroit.  But his mother REQUIRED he and his brother both read books and then provide her with written reports of what they each had read EVERY WEEK, no exceptions, no excuses.  He attributes his library card and his mother to his eventual success in life.  

What kind of country would we be living in today if every family had a similar requirement starting when children are old enough to read?

JUST ONE HOUR A DAY.  ONE LESS HOUR OF WATCHING MIND NUMBING TELEVISION; JUST ONE HOUR A DAY COULD MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CHILDREN’S LIVES AND MORE IMPORTANTLY UPON THE WORLD.  Andy Andrews, author, speaker, and all-round great guy said that one action you take could in fact change the world even though you may not know what action that may have been.  It is called The Butterfly Effect.  A butterfly flapping its wings in New York City creates a movement of air that by the time it reaches California could be a strong wind; a wind as strong as the strongest of storms.  If you have never heard Andrews tell the story of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, you have missed not just a great story but a fabulous life lesson.  Watch part of it on YouTube at: You can read The Butterfly Affect by going to:

Reading fiction is good and is certainly better than not reading at all.  But reading fiction is like watching television, it will not help you further your expertise in the field you have chosen for your career. If someone were to spend just one hour a day, 5 days a week on something that enables them to become better at what they do, by the end of the year they would have spent 260 hours studying.  They would become more professional, they would learn to create better relationships, and/or learn to become a better person but most of all they would become a MASTER at what they do.  Think about it; that would be 260 hours, the equivalent of a college education, studying what should be important to you; your family and your career.

Everyone has regrets in their life and I am no different.  One of the biggest regrets for me is that the lessons learned in just one of Marden’s books and a conversation with Dr. Tom Hill, if taught at an early age, would  have made all the different in the world in my life and probably would have done the same for you.  The book, Pushing to the Front is free as a Kindle version.  Free in this case is PRICELESS!

What my father said to me was in fact true, at least in regard to becoming better educated.  I did not start reading books about the career I had chosen until my early 40’s.  Oh what could I have been had I started as a teenager.  As for college, I simply did not fit.  I did not want to be there in 1963 and while I was there, I was forced to take courses for which I had no interest nor could I see the “big picture” as to why I had to take them.  Had I learned to “read for a specific purpose” instead of just reading because someone told me I had to, my life most likely would have turned out quite differently (not that I had a bad life, that is not the point).

Several years before my retirement from the U. S. Coast Guard, I realized that because of a very bad left knee, my Coast Guard career could end very abruptly at any time as it did in 1985 when I was forced to retire.  Knowing that my career could end, I obtained my real estate license several years BEFORE I had to retire.  Even then, I ONLY did what was necessary but realized that even though I took the required real estate pre-licensing course, I knew nothing about selling real estate. NOTHING!  I fumbled around for about 2 years with not much success until I saw an ad in a magazine for a cassette tape entitled “Creating Teamwork” by Lee Shelton.  I listened to that tape over and over again and I can contribute the contents of that tape to all the success I eventually had in real estate all because of one statement that could have gone unnoticed.  Shelton said, read the book I’m Okay; You’re Okay by Thomas Harris every six months.  I read it more than once but what happened to me was that I obtained a thirst for obtaining knowledge and ultimately wisdom from reading books.  Since the first day I listened to the tapes, I have read well over 1000 books, attended courses too numerous to count whenever I could and then began watching DVDs.  99% of those sources were related to real estate, sales, motivation, and how to think and solve problems.

Please do not read into this any negative thoughts about my Dad.  He was and continues to be my hero.  The one thing that he taught me by his example was to work hard, be honest and always do the best you can at whatever it is you are doing at any given time.  How could anyone go wrong with that advice?

My advice to everyone reading this Nugget is to read books and magazines that will make you better at whatever you have chosen to do with your life.  Start at an early age.  Then encourage others to do the same thing.

We learn our LIFE LESSONS by always reading the fine print; we learn our LIFE EXPERIENCES as I have learned when we don’t.  Learn to read for a specific purpose, always to better yourself!

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