10 Questions for Denis Waitley, Author


Denis Waitley is a San Diego native. After graduation from La Jolla High School and the U. S. Naval Academy, he served as a navy pilot at NAS Miramar and later as head of media relations for the Navy Department.

In 1964, Waitley returned to La Jolla and formed his own media firm representing the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, Mission Bay Associates, and The Salk Institute. To benefit The Salk Institute, he originated The Andy-Williams San Diego Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines (now the Buick Invitational).

During the 1980s and 1990s, he was chairman of psychology on the U. S. Olympic Sports Medicine Council, responsible for performance enhancement of American Olympic athletes.

Waitley is the author of 16 books and audio programs, including New York Times’ bestsellers “The Psychology of Winning,” “Seeds of Greatness,” and “Being the Best.”

His latest book, “The Dragon and The Eagle,” deals with leadership challenges facing China and America.

Q: What brought you to La Jolla?

We moved from Mission Hills to Pacific Beach in 1943 and La Jolla High School served both communities.

Q: What makes La Jolla special to you?

I have been to every five-star destination in the world in search of Nirvana - there’s no place like home. The sea, rocky coast, weather, ambience, charm and lifestyle are incomparable. All the celebrity watering holes pale in comparison to “The Jewel.”

Q: If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?

I may sound nostalgic, but I would remove 100,000 people from La Jolla Shores on summer holidays. For you recent arrivals, we felt claustrophobic if there were more than 200 families from Scripps Pier to the Beach & Tennis Club on the Fourth of July in the 1940s and 1950s. Ah, the price of progress! Our residents’ summer begins the day after Labor Day.

Q: If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Billy Graham, to say grace. Mother Theresa, to keep us humble and not waste our food. Viktor Frankl, to remind us of human purpose. Golda Meir, to talk about women’s destiny to lead. James Stewart to recite Emerson on integrity. Anne Morrow Lindbergh to share “Gifts of the Sea.” Andrea Bocelli to serenade us after dessert. And, Bob Hope to keep the entire evening bright and entertaining. Because there are only eight place settings, my beloved Grandma and I would be in and out of the kitchen making sure everything was “yum-scrumptious.”

Q: What are you currently reading?

“Quiet Strength” by Tony Dungy; “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman; and “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell. I’m also revisiting the poems of Amy Lowell and Edgar Guest.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

Motivated youth more interested in being role models - than worshiping celebrity idols - turn me on. A “what can I do for you” rather than “what can you do for me” attitude thrills me. Seniors who are “re-tried” and “re-inspired” to continue to grow, learn and contribute, rather than go through the motions. These people really set the example for me to live with passion every day.

Q: What is your most prized possession?

My health, so that I can live as long as I can, learn as much as I can, love as much as I can,

give as much as I can and watch my great-grandchildren graduate from high school.

Q: What do you do for fun?

Body surf, deep sea fishing (but eat what I catch), safaris during the great herd migration on the Maasai Mar in Kenya, take my children and grandchildren globe trotting to far away places with strange sounding names off the beaten path, blitz the Broadway shows in New York, listen to exquisite music, savor a delicious glass of red wine, write poetry, and stare at sunsets on the horizon off La Jolla, searching for the elusive green flare.

Q: Describe our greatest accomplishment.

In addition to trying to be a role model worth emulating by my family, my signature always has been to treat everyone I meet the way they deserve to be treated and encourage them to rise to their full potential, based upon their own belief systems and aspirations.

Q: What is your motto or philosophy of life?

My motto: “You must feel love inside before you can give it away.” My philosophy of life” “What you leave in your children as values is much more important than what you leave to them as valuables in your estate.”

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