I havenít been completely honest
with you about something, and want to come clean.
As a Christian, I believe the
purpose of my life is to serve God. I believe He wants us to do
that by serving others, so I make a concerted effort to serve
others in some way, 364 days a year.
But the one day of the year I
believe everyone is entitled to be completely self-centered is
on their birthday.
This is why I give my employees
their birthdays off as a paid holiday, and encourage other
companies to do the same. Itís a great way for employers to
honor their employees on their special day, and give them
permission to be selfish for one day without feeling guilt.
I rented a red Ferrari for my 40th
birthday, and have celebrated others in places like Gatlinburg,
New Orleans, Cancun, The Bahamas, and so on.
Last year I celebrated my 50th in
Las Vegas by jumping off of the top of the Stratosphere, renting
a yellow Lamborghini, meeting Chum Lee at the pawn shop where
ďPawn StarsĒ is filmed, and having an Elvis impersonator renew
our wedding vows at Graceland Wedding Chapel.
And I received birthday cards from
Motley Crue, Heart, Toto, The Marshall Tucker Band, Huey Lewis,
Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), K.C. and the Sunshine Band, and
John Kay (Steppenwolf).
Although I shared the photos,
thereís one thing I didn't share.
And that is that Iím not really completely self-centered
My favorite birthday tradition is
to give away my birthday number in cash to strangers. Usually, I
give an envelope of money to the manager of a McDonaldís and ask
them to apply it to the tabs of as many people as it will cover.
The first thing I did on my
fiftieth birthday was give fifty bucks to a housekeeper at the
Bellagio. Itís not as interesting as death defying feats or
exotic sports cars, but it's just as special.
The Big Surprise
The odd part is that it's also not exactly
"unselfish". In fact, Iíve discovered five
1. No one has ever felt bad
about themselves while doing something good for others. This
small gesture makes me feel even better on my special day.
2. With age, people often
dread their birthday because it reminds them of their mortality.
But when part of the tradition is to give instead of just get,
thereís more to anticipate. This is even truer for those who have everything
they could ever want and really donít need
3. Being reminded that Iíve
been given the gift of life for one more year makes my special
day even better because happiness cannot exist without
gratitude. By seeing the modest
amount I give away increase by one each year, I find myself
being more grateful because I firmly believe the only thing more tragic
than a life cut short is wasting the gift of a long lived
4. Studies have
consistently found that we get more happiness from activities
than from stuff, partly because the memory lasts long after
stuff is gone. This adds one extra memory to each birthday.
5. My two biggest pet
peeves are people who take freely but give nothing, and people
who are ungrateful. Iím not delusional enough to think Iíll
change the world by doing this. But leading by example does
bring a certain sense of satisfaction, and hopefully inspires a few
others to do the same.
New Game Plan
For years, Iíve asked
readers to send M&Ms on my birthday. But Iím changing the
plan this year.
Iíll turn 51 on Monday, October
20th, and will begin the celebration by giving away 51 one
If my lifeís work has touched your
life in any way and youíd like to recognize me on my special
day, do something kind for a total stranger on Monday and tell
us about it.
Email the details of what and
where you did it to
email@example.com and weíll post it on a new website weíre
setting up for The Birthday Challenge. Pictures are even
And BTW, my office will be closed
on Monday, October 20th, because I also give my employees my
birthday off as a paid holiday :-).
To Your Success,
Glenn Shepard aka Birthday Boy
P.S. This is not to imply that Iím being completely selfless
on my birthday this year. I canít share the details, but it
does involve a semi-private party with one of my favorite bands,
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