SOMETIMES I JUST SITS AND WONDER
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, December 25, 2016
It’s Christmas morning, about 5:00 AM, no one is up but me and my puppy. I get Sophie her treat, me a cup of coffee, put the Fireplace DVD on the big screen television in the living room, take up my position on the floor and turn on my trusty tablet and open it to a book that was written in 1914 by Orison Swett Marden, An Iron Will; I am almost finished reading it.
Very relaxing, seeing the burning embers out of the corner of my eye and hearing the crackling of the fire’s song in my ear while I read on. Then a paragraph from the book jumped from the page that caused me to “just sits and wonder”….
“James Sharpies, the celebrated blacksmith artist of England, was very poor, but he often rose at three o'clock to copy books he could not buy. He would walk eighteen miles to Manchester and back after a hard day's work, to buy a shilling's worth of artist's materials. He would ask for the heaviest work in the blacksmith shop, because it took a longer time to heat at the forge, and he could thus have many spare minutes to study the precious book, which he propped up against the chimney. He was a great miser of spare moments, and used every one as though he might never see another. He devoted his leisure hours for five years to that wonderful production, "The Forge," copies of which are to be seen in many a home. It was by one unwavering aim, carried out by an iron will, that he wrought out his life triumph.”
So as I “just sits and wonder” I realized that I just turned on a television set to experience a faux fire where not more than 100 years ago young men and women might be lying on a floor just to read a book by the flames of a real fire for lack of a simple candle. Nor did I have to walk even one step to acquire a book; I could download almost any book I wanted within seconds from the Internet. I think of the times I have heard people say “I don’t have the time to read, I don’t know where you find the time.” Time has always been there for everyone. In fact we are each allotted the same exact amount of time; 60 seconds per minute. What is lacking is a desire or drive to use the time we have been given wisely by educating ourselves. Consider this excerpt from the same book by Marden, the words in parenthesis are by me;
“We hear a great deal of talk about genius, talent, luck, chance, cleverness, and fine manners playing a large part in one's success. Leaving out luck and chance, all these elements are important factors. Yet the possession of any or all of them, unaccompanied by a definite aim (focus), a determined purpose (goal), will not insure success. Men drift into business. They drift into society. They drift into politics. They drift into what they fondly and but vainly imagine is religion. If winds and tides are favorable, all is well; if not, all is wrong. Stalker says: "Most men merely drift through life, and the work they do is determined by a hundred different circumstances; they might as well be doing anything else, or they would prefer to be doing nothing at all." Yet whatever else may have been lacking in the giants of the race, the men who have been conspicuously successful have all had one characteristic in common--doggedness and persistence of purpose.”
When you “just sits and wonder” as I was doing this moring, your mind can take you to a lot of places that you will soon forget unless you write them down and record them for future use as I do now. At first I wondered if I would have had the persistence and drive to even walk around the block to get a book let alone several miles in the snow. Would I have set aside the time I thought I did not have to read the book instead of using that same time to sleep, daydream, play, eat or whatever else there was to do at the time. Makes you wonder, does it not? Does me!
For the record, I usually get up early, whether I want to or not. I typically use the early morning hour(s) to read and/or write for at least an hour just like I did in writing this Nugget. That would be time that most others, certainly not you, have said they do not have time for. When the weather is nice and there are not other chores to do, I oftentimes sit out on the patio with book in hand, sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes for an hour. I was asked when I found the time to read and I usually say, “here and there” because that truly is when I read, “here and there.”
I write about the reading I engage in not to impress you or anyone who may read this not to impress upon them that I read, I do so to impress upon the reader that there is a great deal of information that I do not know and that reading is the best way to discover and learn it. It was not always that way for me. In fact I really didn’t start to read books until I was in my early 40s. I spent 20 years in the U. S. Coast Guard during which time I would read Personnel Manuals, Federal Regulations, Commandant Instructions, beer bottle labels, you name it but books that I made the decision to read instead of books someone else told me I had to read, no way; “I could never find the time nor the desire.”
The Coast Guard made me grow up and grow up fast or be left behind. It was a structured life except for promotions. Promotions were 100% voluntary; you either pursued them or you didn’t. I pursued them. I found out what was necessary like time required in your current rank, recommendations by your commanding officer, completion of a course or all of them combined. Marden wrote, “Yet whatever else may have been lacking in the giants of the race, the men who have been conspicuously successful have all had one characteristic in common--doggedness and persistence of purpose.” My “purpose” or my “goal” was self-defined – I wanted to advance through the ranks as fast as possible; I had a family to support. To do so you had to read and not only did I read, I studied what I had to in order to be the best at what I did.
It was then I noticed a funny thing happened on the way to eventually retiring from the Coast Guard. The more I read and the more I studied, the more people around me sought out my advice and counsel. As that happened even better things came my way. Funny how that happens.
I believe that there are incidents in our lives that act as catalysts that thrust us into bigger and better things and oftentimes may even redirect the rest of our lives. For example, for me it was a cassette tape set by Lee Shelton entitled Creating Teamwork. I was just hired as a manager for a large real estate office. I managed Coast Guard personnel but never had I managed any civilian business concerns. I was out of my element. “When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready... The teacher will Disappear.” Lao Tzu. I fully understand the first part of that quotation because for me it was Lee Shelton’s tape set. I saw an advertisement in a magazine for the tape and although I had never purchased educational or motivational tapes before, I felt an urge to purchase this set of tapes. I had become the “student who was ready” and Lee Shelton the “teacher.”
I listened to those tapes over and over again until I could actually recite them, maybe not word for word but certainly thought for thought. I later met Lee Shelton and he would joke that I could give his seminar better than he could; not true but certainly appreciated. During the tape, Shelton suggested that everyone and especially men and women in business and management should read the book “I’m OK; You’re OK” by Thomas Harris and read it every six months. That one set of tapes by Shelton and that one book by Harris planted a seed within me that blossomed into a thirst to read more, to listen to more tapes, to attend more seminars all for the single purpose of becoming the best I could be in all things related to real estate sales and managing real estate agents.
How do you define success? For me it was simple. Was I satisfied with how I performing as a Real Estate Agent, a Designated Real Estate Broker, a Co-Owner of a Real Estate Office, and a Manager of Real Estate Agents? The answer was very easy; no but I was always getting better, I was moving forward. The education of yours truly was a never ending endeavor.
Here are the questions for you:
1. Do you have a “definite aim” –
2. Do you have a “determined purpose” –
3. Do you have a “doggedness and
persistence of purpose” - dedication and determination?
4. Are you willing to INVEST YOUR time
in YOUR FUTURE, RIGHT NOW?
It has been my experience in dealing with hundreds of fellow Coast Guard men and women and hundreds of real estate agents that most would answer YES to #1, #2 and #3 but when it comes to question #4, that is where they have all fallen woefully short, they simply did not see the value of investing their time, their most precious asset, to achieve their desires; all of their desires!
"Most men (women) merely drift through life, and the work they do is determined by a hundred different circumstances; they might as well be doing anything else, or they would prefer to be doing nothing at all."