5. Listen to what other people have to say (you just might learn something new).
I met people from every walk of life from nearly every country in the world. Each one I spoke with had a fascinating story to tell. If you give a person the gift of your time and attention, the result is a blessing for both of you. Like Ruth from Alabama—65 years old in 1995 and never been out of the state. She decided she’d raised her kids and now it was time for her self. She banked a year’s worth of vacation and on January 1, 2000 got on a bike and rode it around the world, visiting 47 countries. She now runs marathons at 74 and kicked my butt in Antarctica.
6. Keep busy. (You only retire from the job—not from life.)
If you stop giving, you stop receiving; it’s as simple as that. The “retirees” I met have lives that are fuller and more rewarding than when they worked. Community service, they said, is the reason why. As one man told me, “Retirement is like marriage; it’s not the end of something—it’s the beginning.” Retirement in the traditional sense is a pretty selfish act.
7. One person can always make a difference. (Be a good ambassador, wherever you are.)
It is possible to change the world (and change the perception of America abroad) by performing one small humble act of kindness. I saw it happen a hundred times. One was the occasion I mentioned above, when we gave our running shoes to our (much faster) African counterparts. America made some friends that day.
8. There’s no place like home (and your family is your home).
My friends know about my Blackberry addiction. (Linda: “Only Joey emails from Mt. Kilimanjaro.”) I felt at home when I shared my experiences with my wife and children, even though I was 5,000 miles away. Even better was when my son, Grant, joined me to run the Australian Marathon. He also reminded me that the best present a parent can give a child is a look of pride after a job well done.
9. God exists.
All the pain, suffering, and unhappiness around the world can occasionally make you question His existence. But there is so much natural beauty, joy, and kindness out there too, that you can’t deny there’s a divine agent behind it all somewhere. There is a harmony and balance that isn’t accidental. It’s His work and ours, and we have much left to do.
10. You DON’T always need to use sunscreen (even in Africa in the summer).
OK, our parents were wrong on this one. In freezing rain at 19,500 feet on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, sunscreen is totally unnecessary. Warm milk, however, would have been nice—just like Mom said.
To learn more about Joe Hale’s 7in7on7, visit www.RunJoeHaleRun.com. To learn how the March of Dimes helps prevent birth defects and infant mortality, visit www.MarchOfDimes.com.