A Good Habit

A Habit can be a good thing! When you hear that word, often it conjures up a negative image. “He has a bad habit of….”

I developed a habit may years ago that has changed my life. In fact I would say it has shaped my life; in the way I think, reason and even make choices. It has also added many weeks to my year by making a few changes that are really simple in their application.

My drive to work takes about 40 minutes one way. Throughout the day I will drive between 10 minutes to sometimes 45 minutes between appointments. I’ve turned that “windshield time” into learning time.

I listen to CDs.

Whether I am learning a foreign language or listening to a motivational speaker or even a business marketing guru, for just ONE hour per day, it accumulates to an astonishing amount of captured time.

Let’s do some math. If you can turn your vehicle in your private university for just one hour per day for 360 days of the year, it’s like sitting in a classroom for NINE 40 hour weeks!!!

That’s right!  Over two months of training. My years are 14 months long because of this method. I have calculated the “extra” time in the classroom while driving to and from work over the years to approximately 2880 hours or 72- 40 hour weeks of EXTRA TIME!!!

Can you imagine what you can learn by having 72 weeks of learning while driving???!!! And the answer is… A LOT!!!

Forget the radio. Download some higher education on your devices or get the CDs and get started!

Ever Feel Like You Missed The Boat?

Ever feel like you missed the boat?

Have you felt like you missed the boat a hundred times? That investment you thought about but never

pulled the trigger ended well for someone else who made a fortune. That promotion you were thinking

about applying for but didn’t because you thought you were under-qualified, only to find out the person

who got the job, well… you could have done it better!

 

We doubt, we fear, we forget that all large accomplishments come from little daring steps into the

unknown. Stretching our muscles when we are complacent is a tough discipline to master. Making

another phone call to that resistant client, stopping by that potential customer one more time or reading

that book that would challenge our ideas all rely in trusting the unknown.

 

I always wanted a part on the stage. I acted in school plays from junior high up to my senior year. I

auditioned for the lead role in the BIG PLAY of my senior year. I didn’t get it. It went to a junior. I was

devastated. I thought for sure because I was a senior and had “paid my dues”, I would get the role. I

missed the boat.

Shortly after graduation I was asked to sing with a band at a “one-time” event. I agreed never knowing

that a record contract would be signed, an album recorded with sales all over the nation, travels to

different states and meeting thousands of people was in my future.

For five years I walked out on stage in front of audiences of 100 people to 15,000 people!

I missed the boat for that lead role in the play for a one night performance but instead I stepped on a cruise ship for 5 years!

Entertaining others has always been a true joy of mine. Watching the faces of those before me smiling, 

laughing or my favorite expression of wonder while doing magic, fueled my imagination. How could I

use the talents God has given me to make other peoples’ lives better? Shortly after the band days

ended, I got a call from a radio station. The operation manager had seen me in concert and questioned

whether I would be interested in doing a short one minute radio spot telling the stories I told on stage.

My band days were over and I was off the stage and my “boat” had sailed. I agreed to write and record 

10 spots. I had no plans of doing anymore but my boat turned into a cruise. I stayed on the air for 6

years telling thousands of stories to thousands of listeners and had the opportunity to accept many

speaking engagements.

                                                 My “old” boat had sailed but a cruise ship picked me up.

I met a Japanese student who lived with my grandfather at a very early age. I was intrigued by his

language, his demeanor, his quietness and the overall quality of his person. He gave my family a book

about Japan. The pictures were glorious in color. The pages had photos of mountains that appeared to

spring up from flat plateaus and touch the clouds with cone-like peaks. The scenery of pink flowers in

the spring, the fancy cups of tea on low tables being sipped by “pajama-clad” people and the bustling

streets with a multitude of street signs and lights entertained me for hours. I was no longer content to

stare at the pages of a book…

I wanted the 3-D!!!

After I made my decision that I would one day go to Japan, months went by, years went by, and then

decades went by until my chance had come. I thought I missed the boat. An opportunity arrived at the

age of 39. I thought I was too old to be a part of such a trip but I bought my ticket and went. It was the

dream of my life to walk down the streets in various cities of Japan. To sip the strong green liquid at a

tea ceremony, to finally practice speaking Japanese from my own studies, to sitting in a hot steamy

public bath and to climb mountains, visit temples, shop the stores, BREATHE in the air of Japan. Little

did I know that, not only did I make the boat, I made the cruise ship.

I made SEVEN more trips to my second home, JAPAN!

I always wanted to be a real estate investor. At the age 40, I thought I missed the boat. “I’m too old to

start that now!” I would tell myself. But then I read a book about real estate. And then another book and 

another until I pulled the trigger and 10 years later owned 10 properties.

I thought I missed the boat but found out there was a cruise ship waiting for me.

The life-time dream of becoming an author teased me constantly. “What could I write about?” I doubted

myself constantly. I could never make THAT boat. My occupation put me in thousands of homes every 

year. The stories I would hear or the lives I encountered numbered in the tens of thousands.

Recounting my experiences to my family, friends and even other customers, would often end in the

words, “You could write a book!” I started “the book” and put it aside where it sat for almost 20

years!

I missed the boat.

One day after rummaging through some old boxes I retrieved a notebook of

handwritten stories. Social media had become a part of the world and the platform for sharing the

stories. I began to post old and new stories. The encouragement was overwhelming. I decided to write

the book. Sales all over the US and outside the US shocked me. I was humbled that someone would

pay money to read something I wrote.

Twenty years earlier I thought I missed the boat. Instead I climbed onto a cruise ship.

Although this article is about my life, it’s really not about ME!

It’s about you!

Have you ever felt like you missed the boat?

Five years may pass, even 10, 20 or even decades, but that doesn’t mean you have missed the boat.

Study the river. Look out to the sea. Scan the oceans. The boat is there! It always has been!

 Missed the boat? Don’t worry, there’s another one coming!

What is Human Imagination?

What is human imagination? I believe it was Bill Gates who once said,

“The only true asset we have is human imagination.”

As I walked through the historical town of Brenham Texas, I was pulled into the culture of what once was. The modern amenities were there; electricity, advertisements of products painted on the side of buildings, small shops with anything you could possibly need, but there was something else.

It was the magnetism of history.

It was the call of community to gather together to remember the past.

 I left there after walking in and out of several blocks of buildings that stood proudly from a time forgotten feeling as though my hair was stroked by my grandmother.

But it was not forgotten there. When we reach out to meet the basic need of others and pull them in to remember, a distinct quality of the old beckons to the new.

My first car cost $400.00 but my latest phone costs me $400.00. What human imagination has brought us is staggering.

But what we have lost? What is the cost?

The little town brought images of little boys pulling wagons down the street, a barber shop, and of course a Mayberry RFD sheriffs’ car patrolling the streets looking for a stray cat caught up in a tree.

We can use human imagination to build everything. In fact, that’s where EVERYTHING comes from. The bigger church, the better business, the brighter idea, the bolder taste, the beginning of a new trend, but of course, at what price to the human soul.

I arrived back at my hotel just a few miles away. It sat along a highway lined with a Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, McDonalds, modern gas stations, and so on.

Walking in the little town, I felt embraced by the culture. Even though I was all by myself, I was not alone. Back in my hotel, I felt alone. People in the town made eye contact with me, they said, “Hello.”, they nodded as if to say, “Welcome Home.”

The contrast was so obvious when I went to a Pharmacy near my hotel to pick up a toothbrush. No one said anything. No eye contact. No hugs from this culture.

“Hmm” I thought to myself, “Am I replicating the new culture in my actions and thereby solidifying its’ behavior as the standard? Am I receiving what I am giving?”

I decided to change.

I said hello in a bigger friendlier way when I walked in the Mexican restaurant for dinner. I left a huge tip. I went into the lobby of the hotel and asked for the password for the free internet but stayed a few minutes and asked how long they lived here. I did a magic trick in the lobby for two of the cleaning women.

I felt like I was being hugged again. They seemed to appreciate the friendliness too!

Human imagination brings wonderful technology (I’m using it right now!) but don’t forget the simple human imagination to look past the toys and see the people handing them to you.

Would you like success?

There was once a tribe in Africa that was famous for their rain-dances. Every time and without fail, they had a 100% success rate when it came to summoning the great rains to fall.

For years tribes from neighboring villages would come to watch and learn of their methods that would be consistent season after season.

Many of the foreign chiefs would whisper among each other that the rain-dance tribe was not doing anything differently than they had practiced. After spending days with them, the visitors would give up in frustration and go home.

Anthropologists soon heard of this tribe and came to document this outstanding achievement. They watched patiently for days and sometimes weeks to wait for the outcome.

They filmed the dances to study them. They interviewed the sweaty natives as they took breaks and allowed the children to continue dancing. They grew weary of the non-stop nonsensical movements and the moaning chants as sticks of wood wrapped in seashells made clamorous noises.

Each night they retired in their tents and fell asleep to the clapping of hands, the pounding of drums and the mysterious hope that the rain-dancers were confident in their success.

Then one night a loud thunderous barrel of rumbling clouds bore down on the village and as the temperatures changed high above them, a torrent of rain began to soak the ground.

Success again!

The anthropologists scrambled out of their tents made of thin sheets of cotton and gawked at what they saw. A miracle has happened. One of the young anthropologists started laughing.

He laughed so hard that he fell to the ground and pounded the muddy puddles. The brown water splashing round about him, the others stared at him.

“Has he lost his mind?” They thought to themselves. “I got it! I got it!” the young man screamed into the sky.

“They dance UNTIL it rains!!!”

And that was the secret of this famous tribe. They never gave up.

They did not stop when people questioned their methods.

They persisted when they were weak.

They kept going UNTIL. They moved UNTIL. They danced UNTIL it rained!

Do you have a dream, a vision, a calling or a goal not yet realized? When you’re tired, when you’re weak, when you’re beat down, when you’re discouraged….

Dance Until It Rains!

Ever pass a penny?

Ever pass a penny? It’s really not a good idea. You see it laying there on the ground and think, “Why bother?”

It just happens to be the lowest denomination of American currency and yet this small token is the beginning of all wealth in the US.

I did an experiment for a year. I purposely looked for those coins that were carelessly dropped on sidewalks, driveways, mall floors and my favorite place- the drive through. When pulling around a fast food drive through joint, I swing my “big” van out too far so I would need to hop out and pay the person at the window.

There was ALWAYS a guaranteed bonanza of pennies, dimes, nickels and the jackpot of a quarter. I bend over and scoop up the treasure and perhaps slide a coin or two on the window counter just for good measure.

In one year’s time I accumulated $52.57. That’s over fifty dollars in free money. Would you throw a fifty dollar bill out the window? Of course not!

But others did in such small quantities that did equate to this new found wealth. I then took my free money and bought a beat up old bench made of cast iron and wood for the seat.

It was at a yard sale and I haggled them down from their $30.00 price tag. I paid $20.00 for it. I then went to a hardware store and bought a returned can of paint, new nuts and bolts and a plank or two of wood for about $25.00.

In one hour the bench was refurbished and was absolutely beautiful. I put it up for sale on an online site and in a day I sold it for $100.00. Now, I had over a hundred dollars in my pocket that started from “free” money.

From the first penny to this point, it had multiplied over a thousand times.

I imagine had I continued doubling the money or looking for ways to invest this free money, the return would be unimaginable. Instead I decided to take my wife out for dinner. That was an investment of a different kind.

The experiment was just that, an experiment. But it made me realize that in time even the smallest of choices can multiply to become great things.

The obverse is true as well. Some choices can be multiplied to hurt you.

It is so easy to say a bad word in a moment of anger. It is so easy to spend when the money really isn’t there. It is so easy to follow bad advice.

Taking the time to look ahead or beyond the present moment when making a choice can either pay you well or drain your future time and earnings.

It’s not just a penny. It’s not just a word. It’s the culmination of time that proves the fruit.

The choice, however small, is in your hands right now. Gotta go, I think I just saw a penny!

So you want to stand out?

Want to stand out? There are many kinds of people that do NOT want to stand out in a crowd or attract unnecessary attention. I have a daughter like that.

She won a Congressional Art Award and she has achieved a second degree black belt in Taekwondo and yet prefers to remain anonymous. She stands out anyway.

Her success did not come overnight. There were many hours (YEARS) behind the moment when she performed the round house kick and cracked a board in half.

Many strive for great achievements. Some boldly venture out without counting the cost. Here’s a story that helped me in understanding what it really takes to achieve ANY goal. There’s a grass that grows in many parts of the world that has an extremely rare quality.

This type of grass can grow to 45 feet and up to 65 feet in a little as four to six weeks. “How can grass grow that high without falling over?” You ask! I’ll tell you.

It’s a grass called the Timber Bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii). This type of grass is the most successful in its species of plants. It has been said that you can literally watch it grow and hear it stretch right in front of your eyes.

But, herein lies the secret of this mysteriously successful plant. What most people do not know is WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE the skyrocketing explosion of growth.

The secret lies beneath the surface. The seed of the bamboo is planted and it develops roots. The root system spreads deep and far and wide. The support system for this incredible bamboo takes up to YEARS to develop.

What a passerby may see is a little green sprout sticking out of the ground. It may even be stepped on or ignored. And then, one day, almost out of nowhere, this bamboo pushes everything out of its way.

It reaches, it stretches, it soars to the sky as others stop and stare at the wonder. “Look! What an amazing Bamboo!” They take pictures standing beside it and adorn the “tree” with hugs and smiles of adoration.

Yet, it could never sustain the weight and height of its growth without first taking the time to grow a root system.

What about you? Are you paying your dues? Are you taking the classes, reading the books, attending the weekend seminars while others are watching infomercials about how to get rich in real-estate?

Are you volunteering to work on that special project that may not pay at all? Do you use your time wisely at home or even while you’re driving? (I learn foreign languages while I drive).

Are you putting the extra effort in to talk to your kids when they need you?

We all want success, but success is not a gift – it’s earned.

Being diligent is one of those character traits that win the prize. Looking forward, steady movement and digging deep to find the resources necessary to grow.

As for the “overnight” success, it comes to those who are studying late at night when others are sleeping.

It comes to those who worked after hours when others went home.

It comes to those who work in the rain, plod though the mud and see a task through when the obstacles look too big to overcome.

It comes to those who are criticized for taking a calculated risk.

It comes to those who dare to speak up and walk away from the masses.

It comes to those who build a root system that can sustain the growth that is about to occur without warning.

Want to stand out?                                           Learn from the bamboo.

Are you for Real?

Understand that when someone is putting their expectations on you, they may be acting in selfishness.

I’m not talking about your job description including its responsibilities. Making sure you call a customer back is an obvious expectation. Showing up on time for work is your duty. Fulfilling your activities that were outlined when you were hired should be followed.

This is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about WHO YOU ARE.

I remember when my wife was taking a necessary course of philosophy in college. I was studying philosophy myself. Reading the great writings of the existential thinkers was fascinating to me. I absolutely loved Soren Kierkegaard, the Swedish philosopher.

This was before we were married and she came to my apartment to tell me that the professor wanted her to answer the questions with the exact answers he was looking for.

Now, I do understand there are ANSWERS that are concrete, but your interpretations of HOW to look at something or approach a thought process may be different; thus the myriad of ways we all see the world.

Maybe the question she was posed was like this, “How would you describe Kierkegaard’s idea of the eternal now?” The answer she was given in class was the expected answer for the test. I thought it was absurd. “How would YOU describe…?” This opens up the opportunity for individual expression. However, it would not be tolerated in this room of “higher education”.

When we express ourselves in a talent such as writing, drawing, painting, speaking and singing; we are experimenting in the great wonder of our deepest intuition, instinct, imagination and individualism.

Here’s the bummer. When someone looks at what you have created and says, “You should do it this way.” Or, “If I were you I would have gone in this direction.” What they are really saying is, “I want you to do it MY way.”

I once heard that Elvis was not allowed to sing in the church choir because his voice did not blend with the others.

I read that Thomas Edison was kicked out of school because he couldn’t complete the simplest of instructions and daydreamed too much.

I read about Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver who were told, because of their color, they would never amount to anything.

I read about Helen Keller, who was deaf and mute and was treated like an imbecile and yet “spoke” with Presidents of the United States.

Others had expectations on them; selfish expectations.

Get the advice you need. Study and absorb knowledge. Ask for counsel.

There is a balance with Truth in mind. Even the best of us have limited perspectives when giving our own opinions.

As the ancient writer says in The Proverbs, “get wisdom!” Great! Go get it. Make it a part of who you are. The critics will always be there. Shake them off and move ahead.

Lesson for the day: Don’t let other’s expectations define WHO YOU ARE.

Why do you do what you do?

With so many emails and communication avenues that are taking up my time, I was thrilled to see an author begin to follow the blog, TheArmstrongWire.com.

I made a small mention of credit to him in the article titled “Ever take a millionaire out to lunch?” When I saw his name I was humbled to think that a man of such world renown would take the time to read a “nobody’s” article. I am not boasting.

My point is this: Do what you love to do. Do not allow other peoples’ expectations to define you. Write, speak, and share what you believe to be truth. Don’t try to impress or get someone’s attention for the sake of it.

Be who you are and I might add- the best you CAN be with the skills and talents you have the ability to develop. I don’t write or post to bring fame. As I said to someone recently, “No one is truly famous.”   I write because it is what I am pulled to do. I almost can’t help it.

When I wrote the one minute radio spots called “The Wacky Words of Dan Armstrong” for the radio station, WJTL in the 90’s, the ideas that flowed from my pen (yes, they are actually penned in a few notebooks) came faster than my hands could translate.

I wrote over a 1000 shows and I wrote each one with the intent to encourage, challenge and motivate others to think outside their box; a paradigm shift, so to speak.

I didn’t want others to think like me, I wanted others to look at what they say they believe and then act on it, instead of of living in delusion. I live in delusion myself. I KNOW I don’t always follow through with what I have written.

As Jim Rohn, the Business Philosopher once said, “Listen to what I have to say, BUT don’t look too close!” Mr.Rohn was challenging others to move upward but admitted he had not figured it out yet. So, I encourage you to move ahead with a dream. Take the small steps necessary on a path that leads to the goal.

It’s been fun getting some attention but it really isn’t about me. It’s about YOU. What have learned? What have you applied? What have you changed in your life that draws others to a higher calling?

Oh, and by the way, Thank you Mr. Robert Kiyosaki​.

I spoke a word today

I spoke a word today; actually a sentence of encouragement to someone.

Seemingly a minor thought I meant to convey- as it turned out, it was exactly what they needed to hear.

I almost bit my tongue and tasted blood but let it fly instead.

Their eyes widened as kind words spread open their heart to ease their bitten soul.

Had I held back to keep my own pride as high as I’d liked, their somber head would have stayed low.

Forceful I spoke with cheerful glance and lofty opinion.

There it caught them and leveraged their lowered chin. Oh yes, I let my words ring out so others could hear.

Their eyes looked up and teeth did follow. Was that a smile I reaped for the seed I’d sown? Not for me did I speedily shout.

He needed to hear them to bring him out.

I spoke a word today.

Ever take a millionare out for lunch? AND pick up the bill?

Ever take a millionaire to lunch? If you do, you should also pick up the bill. “That’s crazy!” You may say. Hold on a minute. Let’s play this one out.

I heard this advice from a speaker many years ago and I saw the wisdom in it. Who else could give you pointers to raise your awareness of what steps you would need to take to form a stronger financial picture?

I met such a man who had achieved the millionaire status. He quit high school and began to work doing manual labor. It did not take him long to see that just working hard all day would bring him the rewards he was seeking.

He developed a new plan and set a strategy in place. Setting new and more difficult goals as the old ones were met, he arrived at his pre-ordained financial position. Why would I take someone like this out for a meal? Here’s why.

For the cost of a breakfast, lunch or dinner, I gain access into the mind of a millionaire for a paltry sum. When I call him up every six months or so, I always say, “Hey, I need your advice. Can we get together for breakfast? I’ll pick up the tab.”

I’ve never been denied. (Unless, of course, he’s out of the country) Now, the man has also been through the valleys too. He’s humble enough to admit that the mistakes he has made were his own. Listening to him spell out the tragedies that have wiped him out a time or two would have most people cringe and shutter at the thought of such defeat.

But, his smile betrays the enemy called failure. His words of wisdom are like water to a parched soul. I have never left the table without a full stomach and a fuller understanding of what I am supposed to do and become. My footsteps are not meant to follow his.

His counsel, his insight, and his suggestions illuminate MY path. He is old enough to be my father and since my father is gone, I affectionately call him “Rich Dad” from the Robert Kiyosaki book titled, Rich Dad Poor Dad.

You don’t have to find a millionaire. You can find someone doing what you would love to be doing. Or, perhaps, they are in the same field as your work and they have been successful at it. Pick their brains for a few pearls of advice. An hour of your time and twenty bucks is well worth the investment. Go ahead! I dare you!