youíve heard about
basketball player Lamar Odom, who
spent $75,000 at a Nevada brothel and ended up in a coma from
People say they canít understand
why someone would do something like that.
understand completely, because Iíve been there and done that.
U2 summed it up perfectly when they sang:
I have climbed highest
I have run through fields.
But I still
havenít found what Iím looking for.
Thereís a simple reason
people do drugs, cheat on their spouses, become alcoholics, get
addicted to gambling, etc.
They want to feel good, and
thereís nothing wrong with wanting to feel good.
mistake is that theyíre looking in all the wrong places for whatís
missing in their lives. All of those things bring pleasure from
a strictly physical perspective, but there are two problems with
First, the pleasure is only temporary. The
consequences that come afterward can be quite severe, and quite
Second, people need more than physical
pleasure to be happy. We also need to feel good about ourselves.
In Dr. Abraham Maslowís Hierarchy of Human Needs, he
identified Esteem as the second highest of the five levels of
If youíve followed my work for any
amount of time, you know what a strong believer I am that
birthdays are the one day of the year people are entitled to be
self-centered and self-indulgent.
And for my first 50
years, I did a pretty good job of that.
celebrations have been in Gatlinburg, the Bahamas, Cancun, New
Orleans, Hollywood, and Key West. Theyíve involved everything
from flying helicopters, World War II fighter planes, and
jetpacks; to racing Ferraris and Corvettes; to swimming with the
dolphins and cruising under
the Caribbean in a submarine-like scooter.
My 50th (in
2013) included jumping off of the top of the tallest
skyscraper west of the Mississippi River, meeting Chum Lee (from Pawn Stars), having an Elvis
impersonator renew our wedding vows, and doing it all in a
Thanks to my beautiful bride, I also
received birthday cards that year from Motley Crue, Heart, Toto,
the Marshall Tucker Band, Huey Lewis, Dee Snider of Twisted
Sister, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, and John Kay of Steppenwolf.
While I loved the rush that came from each of those, it
was temporary and canít be duplicated every year. But one thing
I did on my 50th birthday that can be duplicated was giving a $50 tip to
our housekeeper at the Bellagio. Her English was limited and I
couldnít understand many of her words, but the expression on her
face said it all.
For that reason, I now celebrate each
birthday by Paying It Forward. Today is my 52nd
birthday, which I'll begin by leaving an envelope containing $52
with the manager of a Waffle House in Nashville to pay for meals
of folks after me.
Weíll then deliver a birthday cake
that reads ďThank You Nashville Fire DepartmentĒ to our local
fire station. (Thanks to Erica Woodbury in Huron, SD; Bill Moak
in Jackson, MS; Tammy Zook in Ft. Worth, TX; and Cindy Tennwalde
in Lima, OH for this idea).
This doesnít mean I wonít be
self-indulgent on my birthday.
In fact, the celebration
already began last Friday when my beautiful bride surprised me with
tickets to see David Spade, and front row 50-yard-line seats at
the Tennessee Titans-Miami Dolphins game on Sunday. At dinner
tonight, Iíll have an overpriced steak at a fancy Nashville
restaurant, and a glass of 25 year old Macallan. Iíll also be
meeting one of my musical idols, Randy Bachman, who wrote my
all-time favorite song ďTaking Care of BusinessĒ when he was
with Bachman Turner Overdrive.
Iíll still be
self-indulgent, but I wonít be selfish.
It took me a
half century to figure it out, but Pay It Forward Birthdays are a
true win-win scenario. You get to do what you want to do, AND
feel good about yourself afterward. Not to mention that you
wonít dread getting older, because youíll look forward to that
great feeling you get from doing something for others.
And who doesnít want to feel good about themselves?
Every day I see story after story about rape, child molestation,
murders, fires, and traffic fatalities in the news. I canít
change all of that, but I donít want to look from my death bed
and wish I had done more.
And I donít wait to wait until
Iím dead for people to celebrate my life. My wish is to know while
Iím alive that I made this world a slightly better place.
To Your Success,
aka Birthday Boy
For those who thought I was speaking
literally when I said ďIíve been there and done thatĒ regarding
the brothel, get your mind out of the gutter.
Although youíll be reading this on my birthday, I wonít be in
the office today. Iím also a firm believer that no one should
work on their birthdays.
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