As dear as his family and friends were to Lou, he wanted to make sure that the path he and Diane had chosen over 40 years ago would continue, far beyond the next 40 years.
Born in the middle of the Great Depression and growing up during WWII, Louis Earl Tice was an unlikely candidate for international renown. With three brothers and a sister, the family struggled when Lou’s father died; Lou was about 13. While the family got by on welfare, Lou spent summers working on relatives’ ranches in Eastern Washington. He learned resiliency and persistence from the plainspoken cowboys, and a lifelong love of horses and the American West.
Lou met Diane Bailey at age 16, and they were married after graduating from high school. Lou needed permission from his mother, as he was not yet 18. While they both attended Seattle University, with the goal of becoming school teachers, they raised Lou’s three younger brothers. After college graduation, Diane became an art teacher, while Lou fulfilled his dream of becoming a high school football coach. “We lived the high life, with two teachers’ incomes. I drove an MG and we drank good wine.” Then came the first of what eventually would be six adopted children. “We went from fast cars and good wine, to old beaters with the doors wired shut!” as Lou used to tell his in-person seminar participants.
He would relate, “I went from running around like someone with a funnel in his mouth, waiting for others to fill me, to realising that I needed to do my own filling.” While studying for his masters in mental health education at the University of Washington, he came upon a course being offered by a visiting professor. It was about the then-breakthrough science of cognitive psychology, and Lou found a connection that would define the rest of his life.
Translating results from pure research and putting them into practical, easy-to-understand and even easier to use concepts and principles became the hallmark of Lou’s education. Trying them out on his high school football team to great success (“Little did they know they were my lab animals,” Lou would relate), he graduated to presenting the materials to their parents’ companies. Eventually, Lou quit teaching high school and expanded his classroom to the world. In 1971, he and Diane formed The Pacific Institute. Realising that doing one seminar at a time was not going to get the education to very many people, Lou became one of the first to put this type of education on video, while Diane codified the education and created the manuals.
By 1980, the Institute had grown beyond the United States and Canada, and began its march into the international arena. Today, the education of The Pacific Institute has been presented in over 60 countries, on six continents, and translated into over 20 languages. “We didn’t know anybody,” Lou used to say. “We’d just set the goal and find the people we needed.” The first 40 years of The Pacific Institute saw presidents of companies and countries become his students. From generals to privates, airmen, and able-bodied seamen; from students to teachers to administrators; from sports figures to mums and dads – all benefited from the education that Lou created and presented for over 40 years.
Each of the millions of people who learned from Lou over the years would take the information he delivered, and then translate it into their own lives and experiences. Once, while he and Diane were touring a SmithKlineBeecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) production plant in the UK, Lou noticed a group of women wrapping surgical bandages. When asked what they were doing, one responded with, “We’re relieving suffering.” Each had made a greater connection with the job they did to the ultimate purpose – not only of the bandages they were wrapping, but with their own lives. It was a theme that would be repeated over and over, all around the world.
Often presented with, “Lou, you saved my life,” Lou would typically reply, “Actually, you saved your own life. I just gave you the tools to use.” People found confidence in themselves and their own abilities because of the education Lou taught, as well as his rock-solid belief in them.
At the same time, he wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions. In 1989, while in Northern Ireland to tape a special program, Lou was asked to speak to the citizens of Derry (or Londonderry as it is sometimes known). The opposing forces of “the troubles” agreed to not bomb the Rialto Theatre while Lou spoke, and Lou agreed to no speaking fee. He made a deal with his audience: if they liked what he had to say, then the only payment he wanted was for them to sing “Danny Boy” to him.
Earlier in the day, Lou and Diane had been given a tour of the bombed-out city. “They weren’t even bothering to clean up, because they knew buildings would just be bombed again,” he would relate later. So that night, at the Rialto Theatre, Lou described what he had seen that day. And then he, famously, asked, “Is this the kind of Derry that you want?” The silence was deafening. Nobody had ever asked that question before. “I finished up my speech and wasn’t sure if I would need to be hustled from the stage,” as Lou would tell the story. “But it must have been OK, because they stood up sang me the most beautiful rendition of ‘Danny Boy’ I had ever heard.”
Lou’s official Pacific Institute biography has often called him a “catalyst for change.” Perhaps it was not Lou himself that acted as a catalyst, but the education he and Diane created so long ago that has allowed individuals and organisations to free themselves from self-imposed restrictions and move forward to achieve goals never before thought possible. “It’s ‘freedom for’ rather than ‘freedom from’,” Lou would often say, and the results achieved around the world, in millions of lives, would agree.