Thursday, May 9, 2013

Purina A Dare and Me

The Art of Living Week 18

Purina, A Dare and Me

I live with my eyes wide open, expecting the unexpected, knowing that around every corner is the  possibility of a lifetime, but nothing could have prepared me for the opportunity that I came crashing into on Monday.

I was in Saint Louis preparing to speak for the Women’s Leadership Forum for Nestle Purina. I had already learned that the company was founded with the purpose of improving the lives of pets and the people who love them.

I had a feeling going into the event that the women there would be very special, because their call and purpose was special, but I had no idea of the impact that this visit would have on my life.

When I checked into my room, I was greeted with a goodie bag filled with bottled water, protein bars and a book.

I assumed the book was about animals or animal rescue so I decided to rest my brain for a while and look at the book later.

Somehow, the book kept calling. So I opened it and a small slip of paper fell out. It was a note from the Women’s Leadership Forum welcoming me to Saint Louis and to Purina. That sweet little note compelled me to read a few pages. I started and didn’t stop.

I Dare You, was written by William Danforth, the founder of the Purina company. He was born in 1870 and lived until 1956.

As a boy, Mr. Danforth was sickly, but a teacher dared him to be the strongest boy in the class and he took up the dare and accomplished the goal of health.

While reading, I learned that the Purina checker board represents the building blocks of Danforth’s philosophy, one that will now be mine. Life, Danforth teaches is made up of four sides, the physical, mental, spiritual and social. These sides are balanced; one does not diminish the other. The real value of life is not in having, but in sharing what you have become.

I could go on, but I want you to find a copy and apply it to your own life.  I will tell you this; when I was in the airport on my way back home, a man saw me re-reading the book. He walked over and smiled and said,” I thought that was my old friend.” The man had a winning smile and an amazing personality. He said that he’d read the book back in the 70’s and that it had changed his life.

He told me that he traveled all over the country lecturing and doing training for an engineering company; the principles were way beyond my comprehension, but I smiled and tried to keep up.

The man told me that he would not have been able to do any of this if it had not been for the book I Dare You. “I didn’t use a computer until I was 55,” he told me. “I keep learning and just don’t stop.”

 The man was talking, but I was trying to figure out what he was saying. If he had been 55 when he started using a computer what was he now, I wondered.

“You look no more than 56,” I said. He told me that he was 70. I looked at his round firm biceps and straight back. I had seen his agile movements and the way he glided over to me. His face was smooth and his smile bright.

“There is no way that you are 70,” I said in amazement. He smiled and again said the book changed his life and way of living.

Okay, so here’s the thing. I went to talk to women in leadership at the place that makes my dogs very happy and I walked away forever changed.

Find the book and get it. You will be so glad you did.

Be you, be well, I dare you.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

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