Remembering Paul Newman

September 29, 2008  

Although I did not know Paul Newman personally, I always admired him.  He was an Academy Award winning actor (I remember being enthralled by “The Sting” as a kid), a championship race car driver, a successful food business man (I love Newman’s Own dressings and salsas) and a philanthropist.

He achieved so much and impacted so many lives.

Did he have plans to do all of this?  I’m sure at some level he must have.  But in a recent AP article, two friends - Robert Forrester and David Horvitz – implied that he was (using my words) a bit more “goal-free.”

“Even though he was a Hollywood icon…it was a rare moment in which Newman reflected on how he would be remembered after his death,” Horvitz recalled.  “Most of the time he didn’t think about legacy.  He was pretty much in the moment.”

Being in the moment is a cornerstone living goal-free.  Avoiding excessive planning is another cornerstone.

Forrester joked how “such planning wasn’t part of Newman’s nature. A sign famously hangs in Newman’s Westport, Connecticut, offices that reads, ‘If I had a plan I would be screwed.’”

According to the article, Newman “welcomed the opinions of others as he pursued the business and his philanthropic efforts.” Forrester explained how the actor “believed in the benefit of ‘creative chaos,’ where, as in a movie set, different people offer ideas about how a scene should be handled.”

I love this concept.  Everyone has a voice and is valued for their contribution.

And contribution is the one legacy Newman wanted.

He once said that he wanted to be remembered for “the ‘Hole in the Wall’ camps he helped to start across the world for children with life-threatening illnesses and to make sure that 100 percent of the profits from his popular food company, Newman’s Own, would continue to benefit such camps and thousands of other charities.”

To date he has donated over $250 million to charities and has impacted countless lives.

Whether or not Paul Newman lived goal-free is irrelevant.  What is clear is that he lived by high principles.  If we could all live like Paul Newman, the world would be a better place.

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