Lessons from Paul Newman

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to offer inspiration via lessons from actor, Paul Newman who passed away this past week.

First a quick update:

“What is self-esteem?”
Listen to the detailed interview with Dr. Joe Rubino, an expert on self-esteem. We explore all aspects of self-esteem – what it is, how our beliefs, experiences and perceptions impact and determine our self-esteem and self-worth and what to do feel better and raise our beliefs about our level of worthiness.

Listen to radio interviews, visit Radio-interviews.

Now let’s talk about the lessons, role model and inspiration that comes from actor, father and philanthropist, Paul Newman

I have said that before that we need to be careful about idolizing people because we are all humans and thus imperfect but there is so much to be learned from Paul Newman who was human but chose to reveal and live so much of the powerful human spirit and potential. And yes, he too, was imperfect, admitting he had a drinking problem before marrying his second wife, Joanne with whom he remained loving and faithful for fifty years – a rarity in and outside of Hollywood.

In so many ways, Paul Newman stands to define what I call a successful life –richly lived in all four realms: Physical (health, financial security), Mental (hobbies, personal growth), Emotional (relationships and family) and Spiritual (service to others.)

Paul Newman (raised by a Christian mother and Jewish father) had a happy, long marriage. His love was his family and he was devoted to his wife and children. He lived his passion – acting and racing cars, gave generously of his time, talent and treasure, donating millions of dollars to charity, and he created a legacy. Most of all, he learned to live and be grateful for a simple life raising his family on a farmhouse in Connecticut away from the plasticity and materialism of Hollywood; expressing gratitude with a motto of “I am a lucky guy.”

For a moment, I would like to list and honor some of the phenomenal achievements, values and generosity of Paul Newman. His success as an actor is clear and speaks for itself –a ten-time Oscar nominee, leaving behind classic roles in “The Sting” and “Cool Hand Luke.” But Newman was also a successful racecar driver, winning several Sports Car Club of America national driving titles. On and off the screen he exuded a cool masculine essence with charisma but with a sense of affability, modesty and empathy.

In 1982, as a joke, Newman decided to sell a salad dressing that he had created and bottled for friends at Christmas which subsequently turned into the food empire “Newman’s Own brand.” His daughter Nell Newman runs the company’s organic arm and all of the profits from “Newman’s Own”, more than $250 million have been donated to charities around the world. According to Newman’s Own federal tax filing for 2006, he personally gave away over 8.7 million dollars to a variety of groups that support children, hurricane relief in the Gulf Coast, education and the arts.

Much of the money from Newman’s Own was used to create a string of Hole in the Wall Gang Camps all over the United States. The camps were named for the outlaw gang in “Butch Cassidy.” The camps provide free summer recreation for impoverished and ill children – children with cancer and other serious illnesses. The camps have served more than 135,000 children. Paul Newman was actively involved in the project, devoting his own time, even choosing cowboy hats as gear so that children who had lost their hair because of chemotherapy could disguise their baldness. The camps even go to Botswana and other countries in Africa every summer to run programs for impoverished and ill children.

Like the rest of us, Paul Newman also experienced heartache and disappointment in his life. Several years before the establishment of his food company, “Newman’s Own”, on Nov. 28, 1978, Scott Newman, the oldest of Mr. Newman’s six children and his only son, died at 28 of an overdose of alcohol and pills. Paul Newman responded with a monument to his son -the Scott Newman Center, created to publicize the dangers of drugs and alcohol. The center is headed by Susan Newman, the oldest of his five daughters.

Another value and choice that separated Paul Newman from many others, particularly Hollywood, was the longevity of his marriage and his fidelity. Although both Paul and his wife Joanne admitted that their marriage was often turbulent: She loved opera and ballet while he liked playing practical jokes and racing cars, nonetheless, his marriage endured. Paul Newman once told Playboy magazine, about marital fidelity, “I have steak at home; why go out for hamburger?”

I have said time and time again, that our greatest sense of satisfaction comes not from taking and receiving but from giving and knowing that we are and have made a difference, that we have contributed and added value to other people’s lives; when we give and know we have helped others, we feel a sense of personal value.

And thus, finally, at a time when we are taking stock of how we, in America, got into the financial mess that faces us all and we think of greed, selfishness and avarice displayed by so many, and at a time when we see the Hollywood star and celebrity personified by “look at me, give to me, fill me”, I find uplifting the words and creed of Paul Newman to a reporter some time ago “We are such spendthrifts with our lives…The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.”

I humbly honor and acknowledge the life, integrity, generosity and legacy that is Paul Leonard Newman (1925-2008.)

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

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