Jane Goodall’s birthday is April 3rd. She will be 85. By that time in life, most people have chosen to retire, slow down and live a more quiet life. But Jane Goodall has done the opposite.
She has turned up the volume on her work to save the world’s wild ones and wild places. She travels over 300 days per year giving lectures, attending meetings like CITIES, accepting honors, and visiting and inspiring hoards of school children who are members of her worldwide Roots & Shoots program.
If there is news about wildlife, Jane is usually the first to give a comment or make a widely quoted statement.
In every way, she is a model for a life well lived. And there are many things we can learn from Jane.
To celebrate Jane Goodall’s birthday I am highlighting 14 characteristics of Dr. Jane that have made her into the amazing role model she is. I believe any of us can use some of these attributes to help us live our uniquely best life.
First, Find your passion and do not waiver from it. Practically since she was born Jane Goodall knew she wanted to help animals. Imagine if you’ve spent 20, 40, 80 years focused on one thing. You would be an expert at it. And you would achieve a lot. Most of us get taken off our path because of impatience or because of family or cultural pressure. Find your passion and stick with it.
- Be Yourself. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind what Jane Goodall stands for. She follows her own calling and passion. That makes her both unique and highly effective. So be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
- Be disciplined. Jane has a mission-like attitude. Indeed she is on a mission, and you feel it from all of her actions. She gets the job done no matter how tired, or overworked she is. And she doesn’t complain.
- Surround yourself with influential friends. And do things for them. Jane sometimes lends her name for events her friends are doing. She did a foreword for one of my books. She is generous with her time and heart. And people want to be around her and give back to her as well. Dave Matthews auctioned off one of his guitars for the Jane Goodall Institute. The motivational speakers all tell us, “you are only as successful as the people you surround yourself with.” So surround yourself with people you want to emulate.
- Be determined. Did you know that Jane had to overcome her shyness in order to be a speaker? She had to overcome many obstacles to be able to do field work in Gombe Stream, and late in life she changed her career focus from a scientist to a conservationist to better help animals. Determination will get you far along your path in life.
- Adopt a minimalist mindset. Although I doubt Jane cares about the label of minimalist, she has always lived simply, even before this lifestyle was popular. Her staff told me she lives out of one small piece of luggage.
- Walk your talk. Knowing who you are, and what you are most passionate about, makes you believable to others. Because meat consumption is a huge contributor to climate change, and because of the abuse and suffering animals endure as livestock, Jane is a vegan except when her grueling travel schedule only has vegetarian options. Take a stand for what you believe in and make sure you make all your lifestyle choices reflect your values and beliefs.
- Don’t give up. In the preface of my book, Saving Wild, Inspiration From Fifty Leading Conservationists, I tell a story. It’s about the time I asked Jane how she keeps going despite all the overwhelming bad news in the world. She fixed her green gold-specked eyes on mine and said, “I don’t give up.” At 85 Jane is probably doing more than ever to share her cause. The words, don’t give up, are simple. But they can be very difficult to put into action.
- Keep a sense of humor. Even though Dr. Jane works in a field that is challenging, and at times overwhelming and depressing, she seems to remain in good spirits.
- Remain Hopeful. Despite the fact that conservation is one of the most difficult fields to work in, she does not seem to give up hope. In fact, she is famous for her lectures and many books full of reasons for hope.
- Give people your full attention. If you have ever met and had a conversation with Jane you know she looks you straight in the eyes making you feel there is no one else in the room.
- Say Yes. Jane graciously gives her name to causes that are in line with the mission of her Jane Goodall Institute. That selflessness has only served to expand her name and message across the world.
- Learn to speak well. Jane is one of the best public speakers I have ever heard. Every one of her lectures has a signature beginning that initially grabs the audience’s attention. Watch her signature opening on my YouTube channel here. She then touches people by telling stories and evoking emotion. At a recent talk she gave in Santa Fe, New Mexico I noticed people crying and laughing.
- Be humble. Dr. Jane Goodall is perhaps the best-known name in the world related to conservation and animals, yet she remains unpretentious, simple and gracious.
We need inspiration now more than ever. And Dr. Jane continues to provide it through her work, and who she is in the world.
Send your wishes for Jane Goodall’s birthday in the comment section below.
For more on Jane Goodall check out my post, What you don’t know about Dr. Jane.
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