Over the course of my career, I had the good fortune of spending time with the late Jack LaLanne. One particular encounter that stayed with me was a fortuitous bus ride to the home of Eunice and Sargent Shriver. As the journey unfolded, I found myself sitting beside him on a 45-minute commute, surrounded by a cast of celebrities and professional athletes.
With an open bar on this luxury cruiser, I noticed Jack indulging in some fine red wine. Naturally, I felt inclined to join him in enjoying the grape. As our conversation began, he seemed to sense my surprise at his choice of beverage. After I introduced myself, he proceeded to give me a message he felt I needed to hear. Somehow in this monologue, my name became "Jimmy" to him, and the method of emphasizing his points came with a backhanded fist to my chest - and he was not gentle in making these points:
1. Don't try to be Superman - be yourself. More important, be your "Superself."
2. Approval from others is not as important as approval from yourself and from your Creator.
3. Focus on making incredible attempts, not on getting incredible results.
4. Success comes from your beliefs, supporting cast and attitude.
5. There are plenty of excuses, but there is no real reason you can't exercise every day.
I thought about these words later that evening as I wandered the Shriver home, rubbing the emerging bruise on my chest. Adorned on mantles and walls were family photos as you would see in anyone's home. These photos, however, were taken with John, Bobby and Teddy Kennedy, Peter Lawford and extended members of the Kennedy clan, including infamous father Joe Kennedy and his wife Rose. I wondered how Jack's words related to the amazing life journey of the people in the photographs, and I sensed these lessons were embodied in each of them.
Who are you when you are at your absolute best - when you are your Superself? Do you have the courage to do what is in your heart, in spite of what others may think? Do you acknowledge yourself, and the people in your life, for making great attempts to do things that hold great meaning? What is the strength of your beliefs about yourself and your life purpose? With whom do you surround yourself, and do they inspire you? Does your attitude allow you to laugh at yourself, at circumstances, and to find a way to see the opportunities in the detour signs on the road of your life? And in the health-related businesses we all work in, I know Jack would ask, "Do you walk your talk and exercise regularly?"
Jack told me that some of his greatest lessons came when he least expected them. Years later I look back and think, Isn't it amazing what one can learn on a bus ride?