A symbol of Republican power in the '90s, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is back in the spotlight. The accomplished politician, writer and speaker took a break from his conservative campaign to share a new project with "GMA."
Gingrich worked with his daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, to write a book in which they shared their simple secrets for a successful life. The book, "5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours," pulls lessons from Gingrich's 50-plus years of experience along with prominent figures that have been an inspiration to the Gingrich family.
Read an excerpt from the book below and then head to the "GMA" Library for some more good reads.
Principle 4: Enjoy Life
Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.—ARISTOTLE
In the hustle and bustle of daily life, many of us neglect our earliest passions in favor of pursuing unsatisfying work or short-term, empty goals like "making it to the weekend." We forget that it is entirely possible— and necessary for truly fulfilling work—to incorporate what we love into our daily routines.
For example, my early interest in animals and zoos led to my first experiences with public policy. I was ten years old, and after watching a matinee of two animal films in a theater in downtown Harrisburg, I noticed a sign that said "City Hall" and pointed through an alley. My grandmother had told me always to do my duty, and I decided my duty was to try to get a zoo for our city. I promptly walked over to ask how Harrisburg could get its own zoo. A kind park official (who, I learned later, had dated my grandmother forty years earlier) took the time to show me the records for the Harrisburg Zoo, which had existed in the 1930s. He explained that city officials had closed the zoo during World War II because of rationing, and he challenged me to personally convince city officials that Harrisburg needed a new zoo. He then called my grandmother and said he was sending me home in a cab, but I had to come back Tuesday to the city council meeting. The next Tuesday, I was right there waiting for the meeting, and the following day's edition of the Harrisburg Patriot-News featured a story on a certain ten-year-old boy championing the immediate construction of a local zoo. I was hooked on both zoos and citizenship from that point on.
Years later, while representing my Georgia district in Congress, I again had the opportunity to use my passion for zoos by contributing to my hometown Zoo Atlanta's fund-raising efforts. My passion—helping the zoo acquire exotic, beautiful animals like Boma, the black rhino; Yang Yang and Lun Lun, Chinese giant pandas; and even Komodo dragons—was part of my life as a citizen and as a public official.
I've always thoroughly enjoyed using my work to help protect animals and the environment—not only because I am personally intrigued by the incredible diversity found in nature but also because I believe that we are called upon to be stewards of the natural world. We have an obligation to preserve and protect it for future generations of all kinds of animals, which is why I played a key role in saving the Endangered Species Act during the late 1990s, and why, more recently, I wrote A Contract with the Earth with Terry L. Maple, director of the Palm Beach Zoo. In the book, we call for a bipartisan approach to environmentalism, so that all Americans can work to protect the fragile species diversity on our planet.
These are just a few examples of how and why I have tried to help animals thrive in their natural habitat, where they are protected from outside threats. I have been blessed with a career that has allowed me to focus my energy on the things that are most important to me. Yet it is always important to remember that, regardless of your particular job or background, you must use your own talents and strengths to make a difference in the lives of others.
After focusing on citizenship for forty plus years, I am convinced that helping those around us is vital for truly enjoying life; a selfish existence is an empty one, and when we are using whatever means we have to do the most good we can, then we are really living.
Text copyright 2009 by Newt Gingrich and Newt Gingrich and Jackie Gingrich Cushman.