In his years as a successful entrepreneur creating and selling corporations to the likes of Coca-Cola and Kimberly-Clark, Richard Jaffe, one of the owners of the Phoenix Suns, found a few constants to guide him in business and in life.
“Love myself; live my values, and learn to give back,” says Jaffe, who gained respect as an inspirational leader.
The most important of these and the key to happiness, he says, is learning to love himself. It’s a recurring theme in the poetry he’s been writing for decades and recently published in, “Inner Peace & Happiness: Reflections to Grow Your Soul.”
“I’ve found that loving myself is fundamental to my happiness,” he says. “The one person I have a relationship with for my entire life is myself, so it’s essential to make that relationship my priority. When I have the inner peace that comes from loving myself, I don’t have to look to others to fill my emotional needs and wants.”
How does one learn to love him- or herself and to be happy? For Jaffe, it came from living and acting on his values in business and in his personal life, whether he was struggling or succeeding.
“These are the things that have worked for me,” he says. “Values guide my choices, and my choices affect how I feel about myself and how I interact with others.”
These are some of the values and tenets that have helped make Jaffe an exceedingly happy man.
• Find your passion and indulge in it. Jaffe has been expressing himself through poetry for 30 years – that is one of his greatest passions. “Poetry helps to provide me balance in life between work, family and other external commitments,” he says. “When I allow myself time to indulge in my passion, I recharge my spirit, my mind and my body.”
• Remember – givers gain. Even when he was a broke young entrepreneur, Jaffe and his wife of 28 years, Ann, always made sure to give to the community, to their temple, to charity. “Give even when you have nothing,” he says. “It always comes back to bless you, though sometimes from a different source.”
• Don’t rely on anyone else to make you happy. It doesn’t work, Jaffe says. When your happiness is dependent on your love for someone else, they control your happiness. Love doesn’t always stick around – sometimes it comes into our lives in order to teach us how to care. We have to rely on ourselves.
• Be the very best you can be at whatever you do. Don’t compare yourself to your competition, to history, to anyone else. Instead, raise the bar on yourself. “Even if I get knocked down at something, I can be happy when I know I gave it my very best effort,” Jaffe says. “I don’t always succeed, but I can give an even better effort the next time because I will have learned from being knocked down. Defeat is being knocked down; failure is the unwillingness to get back up!”
• Control your thoughts and keep them positive. “My kids used to come to me to complain when they were unhappy about something,” Jaffe says. “I would tell them, ‘If you do not like the way you feel, just change the way you think!’ It drove them crazy!” But they did eventually understand that their negative thoughts were making them feel bad. Jaffe says beware — thinking positively is habit-forming, at least for him.
Jaffe is one of the owners of the Suns, a successful business leader and longtime philanthropist. Most recently the CEO of Safe Life Corp., a medical technology company, he also founded Safe Skin Corp., a latex glove manufacturer (acquired by Kimberly-Clark Corp.) and Nutri-Foods International, a frozen dessert company (sold to the Coca-Cola Co.) He is a member of the U.S. Golf Association’s Presidents Council and a supporter of numerous charitable projects.