The keys of a fulfilling life – Denis Waitley
David Laroche: Hello, Achievers! Today I am with an awesome guest and I’m very glad to do this new interview in San Diego… no, sorry, in La Jolla, in an awesome hotel, also. I am with Denis Waitley. He’s one of America’s most respected authors, keynote speaker, best-selling author on high performance and of “Psychology of Winning.” He wrote a lot of books and he’s so inspiring! He’s with me to answer my questions. Hello, Denis!
Denis Waitley: Hey! It’s good to be with you, David!
David Laroche: How are you?
Denis Waitley: Terrific!
David Laroche: Terrific! Perfect! I have a lot of questions to ask you, so I have to choose. My first question is about you. I would love to listen to your story and, especially, the beginning of your story. How did you start and what was the trigger which helped you become so successful? And also, the struggles — I love learning from struggles — How did you overcome them and what did you learn from these struggles?
Denis Waitley: Well, I think the most important thing is that I came from a poor family. So, many people who are achievers come out of the ghetto or overcome to prove something. I grew up in a family that had low self-esteem. My father never accomplished anything. He drank too much and smoked too much, and left home when I was nine. So, I became the man of the family when I was nine years old. I had a brother and a sister, and my mother was resentful that my father left. So, she, in a way, punished us for having to take care of us and earn money as well as take care of us. We did our chores and she was pretty tough on us. I grew up feeling inadequate, feeling average or below average and yet I had this burning desire inside—why do some people become successful although they’re not good-looking? Why are they high-achievers although they’re not like movie stars? Why are they great in business and yet haven’t had any training? What is it that separates people to become what they want instead of what their uniform is? So, I was wearing a uniform of mediocrity and of the lower class. I remember my mother said something that was indelible for the rest of my life. I would do my chores, mow the lawn, clean up my room and do everything to try to make it easier for her. Then I would put on my baseball uniform and get my baseball glove and my cap, and go out to play baseball, and she would say, “It must be nice for you to be able to go play with your friends while your mother has to slave over your dinner, but that’s okay. Don’t worry about me; I’ll be all right.” And I felt really guilty enjoying myself or having fun. So, I learned that the best defense for that kind of attitude was to flip it. I developed an ability to flip everything negative that she said into something positive.
David Laroche: How did you do that? Can you give an example?
Denis Waitley: She would say, “It’s terribly hot today.” I said, “It’s going to be a good day for the beach.” She would say, “Oh, look at the rain.” I said, “Great for the flowers.” She would say, “Your room needs more cleaning.” I said, “I’ll do it better tomorrow.” She would say, “You can’t trust anyone in this world.” I said, “You can trust a friend.” Whatever she would say negative I would try to make something positive out of it, out of self-protection. But the key for me was my grandmother. My grandmother lived 20 miles away, so you can imagine a 9-10 year old boy being hammered by his environment, riding my bicycle 20 miles one way to mow her lawn because I knew what was going happen to me when I got there. She would say, “Here he comes! Here comes that wonderful young man who’s going to really be a great person. You really mowed a good lawn, and because you mowed such a good lawn you deserve a big piece of apple pie!” She said, “Wow, look at that lawn!” It was during World War II and there was no television, so I grew up in radio. I have developed the phonographic memory. So, my memory is that I can remember everything I hear. If I hear it more than once, I have it forever. It really works well when you’re speaking except that you must give credit to the people that you heard it from rather than taking it as your own. So, I do like to give credit for all the things I’ve learned.
But my grandmother and I planted a Victory garden during the war, World War II, and we put vegetables and flowers, and it was just amazing! Whatever it was on this little package, the bloom, she said it would come up if we planted it and took care of it that way. I said, “But how do you know?” She said, “Because whatever you put in the soil, if you yourself take care of it…” She said, “Now remember, weeds come in unannounced and uninvited, so the weeds will always come. They don’t even need watering.” I said, “Why don’t weeds need watering if flowers do?” She said, “That’s just the nature of life. The weeds come in and you focus on the flowers and the vegetables. Whatever we put in the soil, I guarantee you, it will come up because, oh, my grandson, you are planting the seeds of greatness in the soil of your mind.” And I never, ever forgot that.
David Laroche: You have a book with this title.
Denis Waitley: Yes, and she was the prologue and the epilogue. She has been the one anchor and beacon in my life. Of all the women I’ve ever met or have ever known she is by far my greatest role model. I think of her almost every day, because when I go to bed at night I say, “Grandma, here we go again, safe again.”
David Laroche: It’s amazing because my grandfather is a farmer and he gave me a lot of metaphors about seeds and how the things grow, and I love to share that in my speeches and conferences, what I learned from my grandfather. I see a lot of parallels to the nature or evolution. I love that.
Denis Waitley: I think so, too. And it really is—we are gardeners, there’s no question. We garden and the weeds will come in — and they’ll always arrive — and there are pests to come in. So, there’s no guarantee that the garden will ever be perfect because it changes every day. I like that about life—the garden is never finished.
David Laroche: Yes, and it’s our responsibility to take care of this garden.
Denis Waitley: Definitely.
David Laroche: How did you decide to become a speaker and how did you do that?
Denis Waitley: Well, I think when you’re little, you love to do certain things. If you find out early what you love to do — For me it was—read, write, talk and sing. Read, write, talk, and sing. So, in my early years I read a lot. My library card was more important than a MasterCard. I had a library card and I read every book I could get my hands on. I read a book a week; I still do. I read a book every week because it takes you where you can’t go in person. Listening to the radio enabled me to develop an imagination where I didn’t need to see or have graphics, or PowerPoints or video to tell the story. I could be a storyteller in my imagination because I grew up…
David Laroche: … without this kind of effects.
Denis Waitley: … just listening to the radio. And when I was little I put on programs at school; I became the Mayor of the school, the President of the Student Body, Governor of Boys’ State and after-dinner speaking. But then my career switched completely because the Korean War broke out. So, when there’s a war, you must go to war. I became a Navy carrier-based jet pilot and I became a warrior, which I didn’t enjoy, but it was fun to fly. So, I had an interruption of about nine years of flying off a carrier. But meanwhile, I was writing poetry and playing with the clouds, and talking and thinking, although that’s not really a warrior’s mentality. But I knew — even when I was a warrior — that I was never going to stay a warrior; that I was going to develop people rather than defend against them or destroy them.
David Laroche: It’s great. So, you came back from this war and you decided to build something in this field?
Denis Waitley: What I learned, as a Navy pilot, was goal-setting, targeting and the “automatic pilot” in your mind, and the more I read and the more I learned — I began to work with prisoners of war that came back from North Vietnam or from Korea, and I found that no prisoner escaped from a minimum-security camp, but many prisoners escaped from a maximum-security camp. Now understand—why would you escape if it was more difficult? Why would you not try to escape if it was easy? It’s because of your mindset. Leaders always try to get home, and people who are just being there, are just afraid—they don’t take action. I learned that about prisoners of war. I learned that the more specific you are about where you’re going, the more you’ll get there. The more nebulous you are, the vaguer you are; you will just be part of the masses. Most people are thermostats… no, no, they’re thermometers. A thermometer reflects the environment. A thermostat sets it internally and then sets the bar. I learned that and then I worked with the Apollo program.
David Laroche: Wow!
Denis Waitley: Having been a Navy pilot, my roommates having been astronauts, I began to give some stress-management seminars to Apollo astronauts. Then I really got interested and went ahead and got a doctorate in Human Behavior. And that set me off on a more scientific way of thinking about the mind. I’m more cerebral than most of the other motivators, which means that I’m not as exciting as they are, because I don’t jump around and talk about the deep hypnotic power within you. I’m not like Anthony Robbins. I’m cerebral in the sense that I know that the mind is the most magnificent bio-computer ever created and that it deals in the most automatic subconscious way, and that we are creations of habit. So, I’m a “habit” master. My whole life is—how do you master your habits, because losing and winning are habit-forming, and 90% of what you do every day is reflexive. Olympians don’t try to win; they remember. So, an Olympian does not say, “I’ve got to bear down. I’ve just got to win.” The Olympians have learned how to win; have gone through emotions; have gone through the training, and all they need to do at that moment, when the pressure is on, is remember, reflex.
The mindset of a champion is internalizing the kinds of habits that will get you where you want to go rather than getting in your own way. I think that I learned that more from astronauts—going somewhere dangerous no one’s gone before; Olympians—going somewhere in the moment where they haven’t gone before, and a prisoner of war—unable to get anywhere, but having to go there only in your mind. I really believe in “feed forward” and “feed back.” Imagination serves the goal; memory serves the reinforcement of success. Memory brings what you’ve learned to the present… back to the present, and the imagination brings the future to the present. The mind is unable to distinguish between something that is vividly imagined and that which is really happening. So, memory serves the person who wants to reinforce the good life and the life that they want to lead and the life they may have experienced in some way. Memory is tremendous when things are getting rough. Imagination serves the entrepreneur because the imagination takes you into the future like a pilot in a movie, but you can’t distinguish whether it’s really happening or not. It is so real and so vivid, and so emotional that you’re actually living the future in the present, and memory enables you to live the past in the present—tremendous capability of the mind to do that.
David Laroche: I love the way you speak about imagination. It’s amazing.
Denis Waitley: Imagination is fabulous!
David Laroche: Wow! Do you think we can develop this imagination?
Denis Waitley: We can what?
David Laroche: Develop it.
Denis Waitley: Oh, of course! It’s a skill like anything else; we all have it. It’s just a question of whether we’re using it. Most people use it as premonition; they use it as worry. They think of things that could happen, might happen, they hope won’t happen. They look through the rear-view mirror where they’re coming from, instead of through the windshield to where they’re going. Imagination rules the world; there’s no question about it. Everything that is not natural is the product of a human mind. Absolutely, everything that we touch, that is not made of the natural world, was invented by a mind, by some human beings that said, “Wow, why not?” So, I love to study the people who solve problems by using their imagination.
Did you know that the outboard motor was invented by Ole Evinrude? Ole Evinrude was rowing his boat across the lake in Wisconsin, but the ice cream cone melted, that he was bringing his girlfriend. He couldn’t row fast enough, so he invented the motor to put on a boat so he could get the ice cream faster to his girlfriend. That’s the use of the imagination. Now, we all have outboard motors on our little boats, and it was because of this one guy that said, “I just have to do something.” I look at all the inventions and they were almost all to solve a problem, not to make money, and therein may lie the whole secret of getting rich. Getting rich is a by-product of being passionate about feeling a need or solving a problem, and you got rich not because you planned on it, but because you were so passionate about feeling that need that more people wanted it. If you interview Bill Gates or if you interview any of the great entrepreneurs, they’ll tell —
David Laroche: I would love to do that.
Denis Waitley: — they’ll tell you they never intended to be the richest person, ever. They never intended to be billionaires; they just indented to do this, incredibly, interesting, exciting, passionate thing to solve some kind of problem that they felt they had. That’s what I love about being an entrepreneur. But if you want to make money and that’s all you think about, you may make some money but money… you’ll be its slave. You’ll be a money slave and money will be the thing that becomes so important to you; it becomes your score board for success. I think money is just fuel. Money is only gas for the tank.
David Laroche: I love what you are saying. It’s great. So, we have to focus on how we can help people solve problems, and maybe the money will be a consequence of how we solve this problem.
Denis Waitley: That’s right. Well, it will especially if the need is a big one that many people have. So, if you’re going to save people time and money, you’ll have all the time and the money you need, because people are so under-stressed… no, overstressed. They’re under stress, but overstressed. So, if you’re going to save them time — Which you can’t really save; you can only spend it, but you can spend it wisely. That’s what we try to do with applications in technology—we try to save people a little more time and we try to save them money on the routine things they do, and that makes people a fortune; or we make life easier for them. The automatic dishwasher was invented by a woman whose maid kept breaking her china. The maid would wash the dishes and break her china, so she came up with an automatic dishwasher that would not break her plates. But she didn’t do it in order to make a fortune on dishwashers. And if you look at — just look at every invention. The telephone—Alexander Graham Bell. His sister was hard of hearing, so he was inventing a hearing device so his sister could hear him better, but it became the telephone. So, it wasn’t intended. I did a sit-around with a group of people saying, “How are we going to get rich? How are we going to get just incredibly, filthy rich, and that way we can accomplish all our goals, travel everywhere in the world and have everything we want?” The Chinese are trying to do that.
The Chinese have a mistaken idea of what success is. The Chinese believe that success is material wealth. They have lost for many, many years that philosophical soul that they had, that’s 5,000 years old. So, instead of looking at all these incredible philosophies that they’ve had, they’re looking at Bentley, Escada, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Mercedes… They’re looking at the symbols of status that has become the Western way of keeping score. One of the things that worries me is that, if we’re not careful, we become skin-deep and the skin-deep means that we wear our values externally. You can see them in what we drive, what we wear, in our movements, our actions, the people we run around with, the clothes we wear, the jewelry we have, the status that we have, and we’re comparing ourselves externally while not really going inside. If I were to write another book, I would write “Skin-Deep: The Great Culture of Materialism”, but I don’t want to be negative. When you tend to get older, sometimes you begin to get critical, and the worst thing you can do, when you’re older, is to be an old grumpy critic. Instead, I want to be part of the future; I don’t want to be a critic.
David Laroche: Great. I would love to know, according to you, what was the reason you became so successful in your field?
Denis Waitley: I think to overcome inadequacy. I mean, the greatest actors… some of the greatest actors in the world were trying to be somebody else. If you really want to know, most of the speakers I know thrive on approval; they really do. If you look at them, they thrive on the approval of others. So, I have to be careful…
David Laroche: Can you give me an example of how they do that?
Denis Waitley: What they do is they give a presentation and the audience comes to their feet, and applauds them, and it feels so good to get a standing ovation for something that you did, a performance that you had. If you aren’t getting it at home; if you aren’t feeling it inside, you have to get some external reference point. So, it might be—making a fortune; it might make you feel good. Let’s say you were an orphan and didn’t have any money, so you made money and it made you feel important. I think that many times it starts out getting the approval of others, but, fortunately for me, I passed that probably in my 30s. I gave up any idea of conceit; I don’t feel that I’m better than anyone who’s ever been born. I’m as good as the best, but no better than the rest. I look at a taxi driver as Transportation Executive. I do not feel more important than any person I’ve ever met, so I’m not impressed. And I’m not impressed with people who try to impress: the people who appear impressive or desperate for attention; the people that shout the loudest or calling for help; the people that make the big show needed, because they actually need this approval. That’s why their stretch limousine comes into play. The longer the stretch, the more they need to stretch the way they appear. Only the people, I think, with authentic self-esteem can afford to be modest, and they usually are. So, the greatest people I’ve ever met are very humble, very modest, very engaging; don’t talk a lot about themselves; don’t talk about their books. The ones that I see in my profession, who are the most skin-deep, are the ones that are talking about “what I’ve done; where I’ve been; who I know; what I’ve accomplished…” They get so self-involved, and the best thing is to take the value that you create and let it go; give it away. If you’re that valuable, wouldn’t you want to share it with everyone you meet? Why would you want to possess value? Why wouldn’t you want to share it, if you had it so much? So, I really believe that the more successful you are, the more engaging, the warmer, the more gracious, the more grateful, the nicer, and more giving you should be. I believe that that separates, for me, the truly successful person and the one who is the actor, the celebrity; the one who—when they walk out, everyone cheers. And it feels good — make no mistake — it feels good to be featured, but I would much rather have the respect of one child than the adoration of the masses. I’d rather be an example for my grandchildren than have an arena full of people come to their feet.
David Laroche: Great. Let’s consider I am your grandson — because I think you may be same age as my grandfather — and I’m in a field that looks like yours. What could be the best advice you would give me to succeed in this field as an author and speaker; not only succeed with money, but succeed, in your opinion, with life and everything? What could be the five pieces of advice you could give me, if you were my mentor or my grandfather?
Denis Waitley: First, I would say that you don’t have to prove your value; that all of value you’ll ever get, you got when you were created. That uncut gemstone, that diamond that is you, does not need to be cut and polished so much to make it more valuable. You’re as valuable as anyone who’s ever been born or who will ever be born, and that intrinsic value… you must hang on to that and believe in this dream even if it’s all you have it to hang on to. I believe that the true winner believes in that dream even though they have nothing to prove so far. I think performance reflects value; it doesn’t measure it. You don’t need to perform to feel valuable. You need to feel valuable to perform at your highest level. So, first you internalize it. And you say, “You know, given my parents and my background, I’m glad I’m me. I may not be the best-looking in the group, but I look my best in the group, and I have something to offer that is so unique and so different, and I’m going to develop myself to a life of being a role model, mentor, coach example for everyone I meet. And I’m going to make everyone I meet say, “I’m so glad I talked to you! I’m so glad I met you! You gave me so much and you didn’t ask for anything to return you; you just gave.” No “quid pro quo” here; no “something for something”; no “you give me this, I pay you”—you’re giving. I would say that would be the beginning.
Then I would say that you should model yourself after people who truly have done — not just have written about it — but done what they say they’ve done. Not just a clever speaker; not just someone who’s gifted with oratory, but someone who has success by association; someone who writes about what he believes in and is a prolific writer. As your grandfather, I would say, “There are many books in you, so don’t try to make your book a Picasso.” A book is a book that needs to be written and you do not perfect it; you write it. It demands to be written and to be published, and that’s one. But it is not “the book of my life”, because each book that you write will have a different meaning and a different time in your life. So, you’ll write many books. Don’t just try to have the defining book… lots of e-books. Remember, people are scanners rather than readers, and they look in sound bites, and video bites and in blogs. So, you have to have shorter messages and more books, and a smaller number of pages.
When I say model yourself after people, make sure that it’s not just those who are good salesmen. I’ve been telling speakers most of my career, “Did you know I have not ever once held up a book or audio of my own and talked about it? Not once, not ever, nor will I.” There is a difference between someone who is a teacher and someone who’s a salesman. It’s a very fine line: Brian Tracy, one of the best; Zig Ziglar, one of the best; John Maxwell, one of the best. They have perfected the ability to not only write prolifically and speak prolifically, but they also sell prolifically. There’s been a trend over the last decades for a speaker to also be a dynamic salesperson, because there’s been this feeling that unless you can sell your stuff from the back of the room, then how are you ever going to get anyone’s attention, because we have such an Internet overload and it’s so difficult to get your stuff up through the noise. So, you really do have to be an entrepreneur; you have to have something different and unique. But if I were to give you an advice, I would say—have someone else. It just works so great for me; I’ve always had someone else get up there and just talk about everything I’ve done, but I’ve never talked about it.
If you’re a teacher, you got the real thing; you don’t have to sell your stuff. If it that’s good and in demand, the master of ceremonies does it; the vice-president of marketing, the promoter sells it. And the promoter says, “You know, David is such an, unbelievably, authentic, modest, real person. He’s not going to give you a pitch on his stuff; he doesn’t need it—it sells itself, but we will, because we talked him into bringing his library, and we’ve also asked him if he’d be willing and he said he’d be willing to stay as long as you want to autograph them or to answer any questions that you have about them.” I’ve ended up selling almost as much material as Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar. In fact, I sold more audios than anyone in the world—$100,000.000 worth of audio programs, never having talked about one, because I always have somebody else — and I go, “Gee whiz!” — and they go, “Denis, is not going to say anything about it. He’s not going to tell about the specialty of the day. He’s not going to tell you what you are going to get at this program. We’ll tell you that because he’s just too modest. He’s here to teach, not to sell.” To me, that’s a really good advice and there’s a way for you to do it, for you to be the best salesperson in the world without having to, overtly, give yourself a commercial. You don’t have to be the one doing it. It’s a fine art, but I think you can develop that and I think it will set you apart.
David Laroche: It’s great.
Denis Waitley: Tony Robbins and I have talked about this over and over again, and Zig Ziglar said, “Dennis, you left a lot of money on the table through the years.” I said, “Well, Zig you sell pasta and sandwiches, and you’re one of the greatest salesmen in the world. Everyone knows you’re going to put the gloves on them and they love you for it.” And Brian is one of the great closers—the last 15 to 20 minutes of each of his talks he talks about the books and he’s prolific in that, and he sells and makes a lot of money doing that. But you have to decide—are you the consummate salesman? Is that how you want to be known as the Consummate Sales Master or you want to be the Master Teacher, Master Motivator?
David Laroche: It’s a great question!
Denis Waitley: That’s about the third bit of advice I would give. I guess the other would be—you don’t need to copy anyone else’s style. I mean, when Zig used to get down on one knee, all the other speakers got down on one knee. And when people started jumping around and yelling, then other people started jumping around and yelling. Now, in China the motivational speakers all yell because they’re used to the 1980’s American speakers who would get up and say, “Fired up! Fired up! Yes, say ‘yes’!” They were used to hearing the speakers that would try to get the audience echoing what they were saying. So now, the Chinese are all mimicking each other and they think that’s the way to speak—it’s just to leap around and just be jumping up and down like in a rock concert. Some speakers are really good at that—really good at motivating, really good at that power. Tony Robbins is good at that. Joel Osteen, I guess you could say, but he is more the Christian type; he’s more the Christian orator. Jim Rohn is more the “put the reading glasses on; sit on a stool in front of a whiteboard…” Everyone has their style and I would say—your style, your way; and just be as authentic as you can.
But there are too few of you. I don’t know of any other people like you coming up. No, I don’t. I’ll give you some positives. The way you speak is very important because you have the gift of dialect and the gift of dialect, whether it’s French or Australian — It’s absolutely important to have something unique about your delivering, about who you are and the way you come across. That’s going to serve you well in front of English audiences, American audiences, Montreal audiences… Yes, you’ve got to do a little Montreal, a little Toronto, a little… You’ve got to do some of that.
David Laroche: Yes.
Denis Waitley: I just think that if you believe that you’re as good as anyone who’s ever been out there, but you don’t fall in love with your press-releases; you don’t get overly impressed with yourself and when you walk in, you don’t feel like you should have a limo or an exercise bicycle in your room, and blue peanut M&Ms — Some of the speakers demand to have this and that, and they actually believe that they’re somebody really special. I look at them and say, “Gosh, you’re good, but you know, you’re going to get old, too!” I’ve seen the best: Norman Vincent Peale, Zig Ziglar, Paul Harvey, Art Linkletter, Jim Rohn… You name them—I’ve been around them all. I still like the real authentic people who are so genuine that you can feel it in their bones and they’re looking at you; they’re not pitching it… You’re talking with an audience, not at an audience. You’re identifying with that person and they know it; they can feel it. To me, that’s the key.
David Laroche: Yes, I feel that. Thank you very much. It was a huge, huge, huge advice.
Denis Waitley: Well, benefit somewhat from it. I’m never going to retire. That’s the thing you have to be careful of—retiring. I’ve made enough money, so I don’t need any money. I have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
David Laroche: Wow!
Denis Waitley: So, I’m older than your grandfather, probably a lot older.
David Laroche: He’s 82, I think.
Denis Waitley: Well, I’m 80. So, I’m 80 and still going to China—30 cities the last three months; 20 cities in the last few weeks and I don’t get tired.
David Laroche: I will send him your video. I will translate it to French to help him watch that. He will be very…
Denis Waitley: Tell him, I don’t get angry because no one has tried to kill me. I don’t get upset because things will change and I really try to treat everyone not the way I want to be treated, but the way they need to be treated to feel the best they could be. What if you’re an idiot and treat everyone the way you want to be treated? So, a jerk will treat everyone the way they want to be treated. Someone who is abrasive, obnoxious, conceited will treat other people arrogantly. Well, that’s not the golden rule. The golden rule is to treat everyone the way they need to be treated to be all they can be according to their own desires. You really have to crawl in other person’s shoes and give them what they want. When you write your books, keep the reader in mind. Don’t tell what you want to tell—tell them the story that they want to read; that they want to hear; that will resonate with them. And then just write 20 books, and don’t settle for one.
David Laroche: Wow! You’re amazing! It’s wonderful.
Denis Waitley: And remember applications; remember “thought of the day”, “golden nugget of the week”, “leadership tip of the month”, applications for mobile phones, video clips every day… small video clips on the iPhone, so that you develop a chip that can be inserted in the phone and that way you get subscribers all over the world, who are subscribing to whatever it is that you’re giving them. It’s going to be “share application volume”, so that you become known in this mass of mobile imaging, which is going to be a sentence long, not even a tweet long. A little text here, a little audio here, a little video here, a little thought of the day…
David Laroche: Yes, it’s great. I have a lot of questions for you. I prefer this question. What is the psychology of winning? I would also love to know—what are the ten qualities, the ten traits of people who are winners?
Denis Waitley: I think the first is believing in your potential, and how do you do that? I guess you read biographies of people who have overcome enormous obstacles to become successful. If you read biographies, you’ll find out that most people are coming from, uncommonly, difficult background becoming, uncommonly, successful. Therefore, you don’t have to be born with any special head start. I think the idea that “I can. I can because other people have…”
David Laroche: It’s possible.
Denis Waitley: That gives you the passport. Then you say, “Who will take me there?” You see, everyone has good intentions, but they’re very busy. It looks like if I’m going to go fishing, I’m going to have to take myself fishing, because if I wait for somebody else to take me fishing, I may wait a long time. So, you get behind the wheel and start driving your life and take responsibility for your outcomes by realizing that every choice has a logical consequence or a reward of that choice. So, you choose more carefully by thinking before you choose. I’d say—taking responsibility for outcomes.
The third would be—understanding the difference between fear and desire motivation. They’re both, tremendously, strong. Fear tells you “you can’t”, so it’s a red light; it tells you “you have to”, so it’s a hammer. It makes you “you have to do it or something bad will happen.” Desire is propulsion rather than compulsion, and desire makes you want to do it and feel you can do it. So, it’s better to be motivated on the “desire” side or “reward” side than on the “penalty of failure” side. Penalty of failure works as a last resort in wartime. It keeps you alive in dangerous situations, but it’s no way to live. To live in fear is no way to live at all. You won’t take risk because you’ll be afraid of the downside.
I think the next thing would be the self-image that we have. Self-esteem is a combination of believing in worthiness, having identity, belonging to affiliation and having some confidence. But self-image is this imagination. Of all the different things that a human can be — A lion can’t be anything, but a lion; but a human can imagine himself or herself to be virtually anything. A wimp, somebody who is in a different set of circumstances — The humans are the only ones that seem to have this ability to create something that didn’t exist before. Animals live and die instinctively and they learn from other animals, but humans just create something that never existed before, out of these thought patterns that we get. So, I would say the free willing use of the imagination to create something either innovatively, or that didn’t exist before, and not be afraid of it.
Then the other thing would be to direct that imagination—specificity rules the world. If a goal is a dream with a deadline; if a goal is a target, which it is; if when a goal is defined, it becomes understandable by a computer, that’s what a goal needs to be to be reached, because a goal has to have a beginning and a reaching point. It has to have material substance to it, so that it can be pictured, talked about, written about, emoted about… It becomes a concrete image of achievement in the future, and the mind can differentiate that between reality and an image. So, a goal must be specified. I like to spend my life asking questions—“How much money do you need or what would be your idea of enough?” And they say, “Well, I know I want to be rich.” I say, “No, no, the mind doesn’t understand that. The mind doesn’t understand “peace.” The mind understands peace “in what way” as a result of doing “what”, a feeling “what.” “When do you want this to happen? When you’re my age, how much money would you need, after taxes, to travel anywhere in the world and have any hospital, and have any grandchild ask for help? How much would you need and how much would that be? If you can define that and project it—you’re half way there.” I would say the specificity of purpose would be one of the things.
The other thing would be an awareness of your talent. You’re given five to seven enormous talents when you’re conceived; there are 19 possible. So, what are you good at? How do you know? Who told you? Life is an exploration of talent and the sooner you find out what you’re gifted with, the more you’ll like it. The more you like what you do, the better you’re at it. The better you’re at it, the more you’ll like it and, probably, the more money you’ll make because you’re doing what you love so often. Now, you can’t always make money out of your passion. Sometimes an artist doesn’t make any money till after they’re dead. Unless you’re a graphic artist today, it’s kind of hard just to sit and paint, and make a fortune. But if you love to paint or if you love music, you should not save that for later; you should bring that into place, so that you have a balance in your life. But for the most part I think you should bring your talents to work. So, you need to dust off your childhood and think about what were you good at, from 5 to 15, and what you can hardly wait to do when you’re free. So, if you had all the money in the world and time were not an object, what would you be doing with your days? Thank God, I’m doing with my days what I enjoy doing. People say, “Why don’t you retire?” I say, “From what to what?” They say, “Why don’t you fish?” I say, “No, I catch a fish and I eat it or I give it to somebody, but I don’t want to fish every moment.” They say, “Why don’t you…” and I say, “I do. I help orphans and I help these, and I go to Africa, and I write, and I sing, and I play… I like to help people.” Having that desire for service to plant shade trees under which you will never sit… That’s my underlined purpose—to plant shade trees for future generations under which I myself will never sit. That makes me feel like my life is worth spending time on and then having a purpose behind the purpose.
I can’t think of any other ones other than having a positive expectation. I always expect the best and plan for the worst. I love the Serenity Prayer—I accept everything that’s ever happened to me as being history. I cannot change that. I change whatever I can change, which is my response and my anticipation. I accept the unchangeable; I change the changeable and I remove myself from the unacceptable. So, the things that I don’t enjoy, I don’t like to be around, I’m out. If it’s an obnoxious restaurant, I’m out. If the people are making too much noise, I’m out of there. If there’s too much smoking, I go to some place else. I’m learning that I can remove myself from unacceptable situations and not put myself at risk, but I’m also changing what I can, and the only thing I can change is my anticipation of my response. I have a positive expectation. I believe I’m going to wake up tomorrow. I say “Safe again” when I do. I explain myself in positive ways. When I’m not feeling well I say, “I’m feeling better. I’m going to feel better.” I think the way you explain your life is one of the most important communication ways, because bad news sells. People pass on bad news as the affair of the day; that’s why all news media is conflagration, because good news is elevator music. So, if you’re a “good news” person, hardly anyone is going to listen to you unless you solve problems; unless you’re showing people how to take the problem they have, and flip it and reverse it. I believe in a positive explanatory style. “Gee, Denis, you’re not looking so good!” “Thank you. I’m feeling a lot better.” “Yes, I noticed you got some little scabs on your head.” “Yes, I had a little surgery. But you know, that comes with surfing. It kind of looks like a zip head… zip-lock head. It looks a little weird, but I’ll be better next week.” “Does it hurt?” “It hurt at that time, but it’s feeling a lot better now. Thanks for asking.” So, no matter what the situation is, you explain toward the expectation. People congregate around the winner’s locker room. When you’re a winner, they want to hear it. When you’re a looser, they don’t want to hear it. Even though the news media always talks about what’s wrong, you can be the “solution” person.
David Laroche: Yes, it’s great. I would love to know—did you have some — I’m sure you had — did you have any fears at the beginning of your career about “Will I succeed?” Did you have any fears at the beginning of you career and how did you overcome them?
Denis Waitley: Of course. I’m human and remember I came from a feeling of inadequacy and a low self-esteem. My father could never look at anyone in the eye, so it took me 15 years before I could develop eye contact. Usually I would be always looking down in the way, always. People in the audience would say, “Who are you looking at? Were you looking at someone in the front row that you knew?” I said, “Was I?” And they said, “Well, you were looking down.” I said, “Wow!” I guess I inherited that from our family who always could not develop eye contact. I had a lot of fears, but I had a certain gift to be able to explain things in easy-to-understand ways. I took the lyricist in me… I’m a lyricist. A lyricist is somebody who is, unfortunately, totally poetic and it maybe doesn’t sell as much today, but it’s my thing. People say, “Okay, in 30 words what is it—your life?” And I go, “The essence of my life is this:
A baby’s smile, a loved ones’ kiss / A book, a tree, the sea, a friend / And just a little time to spend.” That’s it. So, I spend my life trying to, lyrically, form words that try to get a larger message across and a fewer number of words. That helped me—having a good memory and being a lyricist; somebody who listened to the radio and listened, and listened to be able to spout back things that I’d heard, things that were proverbs… proverbial… “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Winners believe in their dreams “when that’s all I have to hang on to”; that deep down inside the skin feeling of your own worth… all those kinds of things. Being able to use clichés when you need to, but try not to be a walking cliché…
But I wrote “The Psychology of Winning” for myself at the worst point in my life. So, it’s possible then for someone who’s not doing well, who is afraid and is tentative about his or her success to reach down, in the worst of times, to bring the very best out of yourself. I’ve been a jet pilot; I’ve been a warrior… minimum success, not too much success; not Dr. Saul… Getting a doctorate, but not going anywhere with it, and being paid $100 to speak—not exactly a fortune. Speaking to women’s clubs and Kiwanis, and Rotary, and Optimist Clubs… Zig Ziglar and I gave 500 speeches before anyone would even pay us for one. We went the hard way. We went $100 at a time until, finally, we recorded some that somebody actually clapped. So, we went up through the ranks rather then having a best-seller catapult us into the platform. I mention this only because I think it might be important for anybody in the future. I didn’t write “The Psychology of Winning” because I was an authority on winning. I wrote it because I was an authority on losing. If you take what you’re doing in life and analyze it, and if you had to do the opposite of what you had failed at and made that part of your life, then you could flip it. So, instead of being Waitley “come lately” or “always late” Waitley, I became “first out of the gate” Waitley or “always on time” Waitley. I was able to take what I was doing wrong and reverse that with psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics—the ability to reprogram this marvelous “autopilot” and give myself the things that I wasn’t doing. So, I wrote about it. I wrote that winners need to be doing this. Fortunately for me, “Nightingale-Conant” did a very good job of direct mailing and they mailed that out and they sold $100,000.000 worth of one album, one audio album which was the second audio album ever produced of a speaking voice. Earl Nightingale lead the field and a couple of other ones, but I got very lucky in the sense that… timing of their Marketing and of the demand in the market, and my own need to flip my life around—it just went together. I had great fears. I was never sure that I was going to be successful, but I had a hunch; I had a belief deep down that somehow, some way I was going to break through, and you have to have that. I mean, if you don’t have that, you’ll just give up after the third, or forth, or tenth, or twentieth try. Failure was never an option.
David Laroche: Great.
Denis Waitley: Failure’s a fertilizer.
David Laroche: A lot of people who are following me lack self-esteem and self-confidence. What would you suggest to improve self-esteem and self-confidence?
Denis Waitley: I think to take a talent audit of oneself. In other words, count your blessings instead of your blemishes. I would say—what are the things about yourself that you’re proud of? What’s in your “bag”? Bias for blessings—what have I’ve been given in my life that I take for granted: my eyes; I can walk; I can talk; I can see; I can think; I can read; I’m young; I’m attractive; I’m this… What’s my bag, my blessings? What have I been given that I don’t often think about? Then what are my accomplishments? What have I done in my life so far that I’m proud of? Little things… anything. From the time I’ve been young is there anything I can hang on to? Anything that has happened, that in times of difficulty or strife I can say, “You know, when they got really tough I did that. I remember doing that; I remember feeling that way.” Then, of course, if you don’t have many blessings and you haven’t done that much, you really have to hang on your goals. You have to have this tremendous imagination that makes you believe that you can ratchet your way to the top. So, you have to get images of achievement for yourself and break them down into little bite-sized pieces like an Olympian. When I was the Chairman of Psychology for the Olympics I gave them stair steps, little, tiny things—90 days, things to do for three months… just little things. And if they won a fraction of a meter or a fraction of a second, they kept raising the bar, and as they accomplished each new little step, it gave them new confidence that they could risk more. If they failed on a little goal, that’s easy to correct. Instead of having them have, impossibly, difficult goals—low goal, short term. So, to improve self-esteem I would say “low goal, short term.” I would say, “break it down in three months, in length of a season; you can’t always do it in a month—things get in the way. Maybe three months… give yourself three months and accomplish something in that season.” What are you going to do this summer? What are you going to do this fall? That’s a length of a business season; that’s a length of an athletic season; a length of a farming season and it must be something to this. I would go “low goal, short term” and I just keep counting my blessings, and keep reinforcing my accomplishments and keep reinforcing my goals.
David Laroche: It’s great! I love that. You also talk about motivation. According to you, what are the secrets of motivation?
Denis Waitley: Motivation by definition is an inner force that compels behavior. So, if motivation is an inner force that compels behavior, the best motivation is intrinsic, inside where you can use extrinsic, and we all have that. Extrinsic motivation is: material—“I want it”; competitiveness—“I want to be better”; acquisition “I want things.” What else would it be? Let’s see… competitiveness, acquisition, material; that’s pretty much the outside motivation—being better and winning the goal medal. Intrinsic is: desire for excellence and achievement by independent action. If you take two students and have the student 1 be motivated by desire for excellence and achievement by independent action, and the other motivated by getting good grades and getting into a good college, I guarantee you, the intrinsic motivation will win over the long run. That is not to say that extrinsic motivation—money, power, competition are not important; they’re very human. We all want to be somebody and we want to be somebody in comparison with the world standards — no question, world-class standards — but, for my money, intrinsically motivated to be the best you can possibly be from inside out, and having internal values would be the best motivator of all; be doing it for its own sake, not because I’m a professional athlete, but because I love sports.
David Laroche: Great. How do you define resiliency? What is it for you?
Denis Waitley: Resiliency is mental toughness, the ability to bounce back after you fail and it’s very difficult to do, but it’s one of the traits of an Olympian. In fact, we look for self-confidence, mental toughness and ambition. We look for resiliency in Olympians because they’re going to fail a lot; they’re going to get hurt a lot; they’re going to fall a lot and they’re going to get injured a lot. So, we look for the person who’s able to say, “I can handle this. Failure is always the fertilizer of success.” It stinks; we don’t like it; we don’t want it, but it’s inevitable. Don’t roll in it; plant it. So, plant failure as the fertilizer of your next success. Resiliency enables you to use the experience of a negative nature so that you don’t repeat it, and it becomes wisdom.
David Laroche: So, it’s the ability to learn from the experiences and challenges you have, right?
Denis Waitley: Right, and define somebody who has overcome either what you failed at or what you’re afraid of. Find somebody who’s done what you find almost impossible—a speaker who has the confidence; who goes into an empty room and practices. I do that all the time; I simulate a lot. I, absolutely, have to go in every meeting room and know exactly what the ambiance of the room is. I have to know what the temperature is; if everyone can see. I never blow on the mike; I never tap on it. I have the adaptability or the resiliency in the form of a contingency. So, another thing you can do for resiliency is have a contingency “plan B” which means—always be prepared for the unexpected. That’s why I have a second wireless mouse; I make sure that the graphics are set, because, inevitably, in China somebody always holds out the little thumb drive; they do something that is just weird, and you have a problem. So, because of mistakes — you like to make them — I use a contingency plan. Because I’ve been through so many errors before, I anticipate the error and that makes me more resilient. The same thing is true when I’m travelling. I know always to have a backup flight; I know how to pack so my clothes aren’t wrinkled… I just know those things. Those resilient things are things I plan for now.
David Laroche: …
Denis Waitley: Well, my own belief is that habits are not broken easily; they’re replaced. If you look at the way the mind works, the mind works by observation, imitation and repetition. Everything that we are, we are as a result of who we watch, who we listen to and what we internalize to practice. So, we are modeling our whole lives without even knowing it. We model ourselves after all these inputs and that becomes our habits. So, 90% of what we do is habitually; we don’t even think about it. We even take showers the same way; we get dressed the same way; we shave the same way. We do this enormous thing, called life, habitually, and that’s why it’s so important to develop healthy habits in the place of the destructive habits. In China, for example, they all smoke — the men — because they copied the Japanese and they hate the Japanese. So, if the Chinese hate the Japanese, why are all the Japanese men smoking? Because the American men were smoking and we brought cigarettes to Japan. So, a habit is something that you learn by watching celebrities or watching people and you get into it, and once you’re into it, you can’t get rid of it because the chains are too strong to break.
A habit is a bed that’s comfortable… really hard to get out of. It’s a submarine—it runs silent and deep. It goes from cobwebs into cables to strengthen or shackle our lives, and therefore we’re creations of habit. It takes about a year. So, the motivational speakers are wrong; they’ve been wrong all their lives by saying, “If you do this for 21 days, you can change your life.” Are you kidding me? If you’ve been like you have been for 21 years; if you’ve been doing something for a long period of time, it will take you a longer period of time to have the neurons and dendrites connect and jump over each other to connect, to make something a reflex action. So, it takes about a year of a daily routine to put you in a new habit for life. What I tell people is, “Yes, go on a retreat. Go ahead on this seminar. Go ahead to the island and have the mind-changing, mind-altering weekend. But it’s going to take you six months to a year to be the new “you.” It’s going to take you a daily routine.” Like a subway—it gets you from one place to the other on a track. They seem a little boring at first, but Olympians do it; astronauts do it; top salespeople do it; people planning for weddings do it. Habits are the most incredible thing we have in our life. You need to have a new software program that you put in to the iPhone and you put the app in, and it says “My breathing is relaxed and effortless; my lungs are pink and clear; water is my favorite fitness drink. I eat only when I’m hungry. I eat small portions of nutritious food. I eat fiber-based carbohydrates. I’m loving and intimate with my family. I’m always on time. I listen to other people say and they know it. I’m caring and gentle. I’m a winner.” It seems routine at first, but I’m telling you, there’s nothing like learning how to fly, going to a Ground School, learning how to be an astronaut. Simulation, observation, imitation, repetition… Simulation, internalization, realization… Napoleon Hill was right: “Conceive it. Believe it. Repeat it.” It becomes you. Habits are learned and they’re not overnight things, so you don’t have a religious experience. You don’t say, “I’ve arrived.” Billy Graham and I had a long talk about it, and he is one of the most respected men I have known in my life. And he says, “Denis, you and I are pretty much the same. We go out; tell them what we believe; some of them come from the outfield to the infield…” I said, “Yes, with your case it’s 19,000 people. In my case, I’m lucky to get 1,000… maybe in China now.” He said, “Yes, but I tell them what I believe.” I said, “Yes, but they come down and I see them crying.” He said, “They go back to being themselves. They believe in it that instant; they want it, but it’s going to take them a long time to become that. So, I’m an “awareness” person. I lead them to an awareness; they do it over time, Denis. I’m not magic and neither are you.”
David Laroche: …
Denis Waitley: Billy Graham?
David Laroche: …
Denis Waitley: He is the most important American evangelist that has ever lived. He’s the most powerful Christian. He used to get 100,000 people in Russia to hear him speak. He is the most powerful American evangelist and he admits that instead of making people Christians, he makes them more aware of the evening, that they have a possibility of going home and changing over the next year. And I went “Wow! I thought you change lives.” He said, “No, Denis. We are not Messiah; we are “self-awareness” people. We lead people, so that they can find their path and their way, but we don’t make the changes in them; they do it.” Again, that’s why I prefer to just think of myself as somebody who throws seeds out—some of them take and a lot of them don’t. I don’t think I’ve changed any life other than my own.
Julie: [question about education]
Denis Waitley: I think a lot of it begins, of course, at home. It’s very difficult to do it at home, because we have so much pressure and so little time, and parents have so little guidance on what to do to raise their children. I think that we have to have a more value-based education in schools and the difficult thing is—whose values are they? We live in a world where values are all dependent on — let me see if I can use the word — they’re based upon relevancy of the time, so there are no absolutes anymore. But in my opinion you can teach honesty, for example, and you’re either honest or you’re not. You can’t be partially honest. So, if you’re dishonest in a way, you’re a dishonest person. You can’t be honest in one sense and dishonest in another. I like to teach children honesty and the way I do that is to put a wallet in the middle of the floor in the school with $800 in it, a big, fat wallet, and I say, “You’re walking home from school and this big, fat wallet is lying there. It has credit cards in it and a driver’s license, and eight one-hundred banknotes. What do you do?” And they go, “Whoa! Anybody watching?” I said, “No, no one’s seeing you. Does that make a difference?” They said, “Well…” I said, “Does it make a difference if anyone sees you?” “Yes, because if they see me, then I’ll feel guilty if I keep the money.” I said, “No, that’s situational honesty and I’m talking about honesty. Honesty is not situational, okay? The situation in what you’re honest doesn’t matter. So, what would you do?” And they say, “Well, I would keep the money and give the wallet, and the credit cards.” I said, “Very noble.” You figure “finders keepers, losers weepers” by it. Then I said, “What if there was your mother’s picture?” They said, “Well, I’d give her most of the money.” And they have these little jokes. And I said, “What if it’s the old woman’s who lives down the street, and it’s the only money she has and you know that? She’s your neighbor and she’s on dialysis.” They said, “Well, of course, I’d give her the money and the wallet, everything right back to her.” I said, “So, there are situations in which you would be honest and situations in which you would be not. Let me reverse this now. You’re travelling to the United States in the summer with a group of students. You’re given $800 for the whole trip, but you go into the restroom at the airport, and by mistake, as you grooming your hair, you leave your wallet there. You run off the plane quickly and tell the flight attendant that you left your wallet. What do you hope?” They said, “Well, we hope that it’s still there.” Then I said, “What do you hope is in it?” “We hope the money is in it with the credit card.” “But what if the person is like you? What if they’re as honest as you are? So, what would you do?” What I’m trying to teach in a way of education is core values—why a person is as valuable as anyone else regardless of how they look? I think you can do that… I think education can be taught in a way to say, “You’re a lump, a carbon that is a diamond ready to be cut and polished inside, and each of you is as good as anybody else.” That’s one part of education.
Another part is finding out what you’re good at and there are tests that can be given to children, at the age of 11 or 12, that identify the gifts that they were given from their parent at conception. The ability to be good at music, or art, or numbers, or words, or pictures is inborn, and each child is given five enormous diamonds inside. To know those and just to have them and say, “I can hardly use them.” You can use them to make money; you can use them to help others, but use them; they belong to you—they are your gifts, your talents. That would be important to help them identify early what they’ve been given to work with, and then create an environment where they know — Especially, the more a child is read to out loud, the more gifted they’ll become in verbal expression. So, if they read to out loud when they are a baby or even when they’re in the womb — So, if you’re pregnant and you’re reading to your unborn child, that child will hear your voice and begin to form words, even when it’s a nine-month old fetus. So, the more you speak out loud in encouraging, positive terms and reading, and the more reading a child does, the more ability they’ll have to communicate, and things like that.
Teaching goal-setting would be so important, whether it’s a “dream board” or whether it’s using their laptop or whatever to create a dream board, or “If I could, I would be…”… those kinds of things. And I think you can do that in education without forming a value system that one society tries to put on another—it’s not the American system; it’s not the French system; it’s not Catholic; it’s not this… It’s just planning value-based — Honesty has been going on since the beginning of time. Goal-setting is what we do. Talent is what we have. “Be nice to each other” is what we should be. I think we should be teaching those in school, and I’d be looking for distance-learning programs where — I think the future is distance-learning. I think the future is on the Internet. I think the future is hand-held devices, and we’re going to have to get more and more of a value-based education in the form of hand-held, value-based devices where children can learn at home; their parents buy it. And instead of just playing the games, they’re playing life games; they’re just assessing games.
Denis Waitley Thank you.
Denis Waitley Yes. I don’t know how they’re going to make it available, but there are two tests. One is called the “BALL” — B-A-L-L — the Ball Foundation in Chicago, and the other is the Johnson O’Connor Foundation in New York. To my mind they are the only two Non-Profits in the world that can give natural gift testing to children, and they’re wonderful. They don’t try to sell; you’ll never hear about them. But I’ve taken about 100,000 young people and put them through that testing; it’s great. It costs about $500; it’s like a game board, and yet you can find out what you’ve been given. Can you imagine when you’re 11 years old and your parents say, “I have this present for you”? And they say, “Oh, no. Is it a test?” “No, it’s not really a test; it’s a gift and I want you to know what you’re gifted in, really, so that you can do whatever you want.” I wish I would have known that my gifts were verbal, because I wouldn’t have become a nuclear weapons delivery pilot, because I’m not gifted in that. I survived that, but I would have definitely done something more in writing. I didn’t chase my passion till I was in my middle 30s, so I lost a lot of precious time experimenting with what other people had in mind for me, instead of chasing my own passion, which would have been wrapped up in my talents.
Denis Waitley: It’s great to meet you both!
Denis Waitley Okay.
Julie: it’s about your vision of the world. What could be the three actions human beings could to make this world a better place to live?
Denis Waitley: I think that the first action would be to understand that the center of the universe is not them. I have a slide that shows the known universe, and then I pick the center of it and I put center of universe; then I put “you are here.” So, you’re in the corner and the center is here, and the universe — Although it is the only universe you know, the one that revolves around you, it’s much better to get out of you and into what you can do for others in the world, because that makes it so much more interesting and fun to go out rather than in. So, take yourself out. Whenever I’m not feeling well, I help somebody who’s feeling worse. Whenever I’m worried about getting old, I go help older people. Whenever I’m worried about loosing by boyish grin, I hang around children. So, I really try to stay out of going inward and take whatever I have inward outward. I think that if people took the values they have and spread them, they’d be a lot happier and the world would really be better if they weren’t so selfish, although 95% of the people just want something to eat. It’s easy to say when most people are terribly impoverished and they don’t understand, but I think that we can even help them, which is why I go to Africa and I am helping feed the hungry and I’m digging wells. I’m doing things in my own way that shows those people that I care about somebody other than me. So, I’m recycling my wealth while I’m alive rather than after I’m dead. I think the worst thing to do is to give money to your children because they had the privilege to have you as a parent. So, I believe in recycling everything that I’ve gained while I’m still alive, so that I can show them that this idea of giving and sharing is really the best way to live and to be happy that way.
I guess the other thing would be to have more women leaders because women aren’t as territorial as men, and they don’t send out young men to die for their causes, because women are more interested in health and education and cohesive family. I think that having more of a gentle female type of leadership that has more fluidity to it…. I think water conquers rock. I’m hoping that the world goes back to the Dao De Jing and Confucianism where “water conquers all” because it’s so fluid and soft, and rock is brittle and breaks. It’s better to be fluid and flow than it is to fight and be hard. Those are pretty big things. And China has a real problem—that’s why they don’t have enough water; they don’t have enough food; they’re polluting; they’re doing exactly what we did to get rich as quick as they can. They don’t care about anything except getting rich now. So, the future generations are being mortgaged because of their desire to be rich and, yet, why can’t they learn from history? I would say—unless we learn from history, we’re bound to repeat it and so far I have not seen that. No society has ever survived with so much success. It’s usually 500 hundred years and that’s maximum. So, China’s good for maybe 100 years. They’re going pretty fast like this. I think it would be learning the lessons from history and those are the “big picture” things. All I can do is to tell them that they’re caught in their own progress. Shanghai is the biggest city in the world; they can’t go anywhere.
Denis Waitley: Seven-hour gridlock all day, every day… and they have 12 million cars. You just can’t go anywhere. It’s the most modern; it’s four New York’s, but they can’t go anywhere, so all they do is honk their horns all day. That’s a very frustrating way to become successful—to have a car, to have a Ferrari, but you can’t drive it because it’s caught in traffic.
Denis Waitley: I wish I knew some other ways to help.
Denis Waitley: I try to get out of me and into you, and if I can just stay out of me, I’m fine.
Denis Waitley: If you can treat them that way with the same dignity… I actually treat waitresses — They’re equal to me. Why would I be any better than a waitress? Because she’s earning her money in that way? She’s doing the best she can. She is a Food Service executive as far as I’m concerned. So, why would I deliberately make her feel — Why would I be abrupt with her or with a taxi driver or a garbage collector? “There but for the grace of God, go I.”
Denis Waitley: You two make a great couple. You’re great role models and I’m honored to be with you… really. Usually, I have this very deep booming voice, but I also have an allergy that comes around this time the year. So usually, I have this strong, deep voice that puts people to sleep.
In China I have more fun. In China I say to the audience, “Did you know that I sold more spoken audios than anyone in the world?“ They go, “Wow!” I say, “No, no. You shouldn’t say ‘Wow’. You should understand that America has trouble sleeping, and if you put out one of my CDs in your bedside, you go right to sleep just like my children.” So, that way you see I can get a twofer. I can make it known that I do so, but I can also not take the credit for it and I can make fun of myself in a very fun way, which is really good for me. I love doing that. I love the self-deprecating Bob Newhart humor, as long as they don’t take it for low self-esteem. But I tell them every once in a while that no matter how good you think you are, we all have a leak in our self-esteem. It’s inevitable that we do have a leak, and no matter how much we pump it up, it leaks a little bit and we are dependant, and people criticize us; it does hurt. Then the say, “When you’re looking at an audience and there are two people asleep…” — Inevitably in China there are more than two. They take the train two hours, so they’re asleep in the front row, and here I am supposedly delivering one of my most dynamic “Seeds of Greatness” and there are three people asleep. So, I’m always looking at them. Sure, who do you look at? The people that aren’t paying attention to you. It’s human nature to look in the mirror and see the zip or the blemish rather than the blessing. It’s just human nature to be a little bit self-conscious of ourselves, and I think that’s what’s good, because I think it keeps you honest. I think it makes you not feel that you’re of this guy that can swagger in. I tell a good story about that. I’m going to tell you that story. The story is a guy that owns a NFL team…