No. 65

It has been said that "A birthday is a big event in everybody's life -- it should be a holiday -- with pay." This sounds like a great idea, except for those of us who are self-employed. In this case, we would have to pay ourselves. While I enjoy the cards, phone calls, gifts and usually a birthday dinner, it's really a special day for my wife. Viola is a lovely and caring person and on her birthday she has many friends who call and take her out to brunch and dinner, as well as express their love in a variety of ways.
It seems the older we get the more special our birthdays become. If you are getting along in years, too, you may appreciate this story about a 90 year old man. When someone asked him how he felt when he woke up in the morning, he said, "surprised!" Isn't it wonderful what technology has done for people all over the world? We are living longer and enjoying it more. Aside from this personal reference about our birthdays and a little levity, I'd like to redirect our focus to a wonderful little story that contains some principles that could help any of us.
This is a story about a small crippled boy who was very hunched-back. When asked by his father what he wanted most of all for his birthday, he said he wanted a life-sized statue in the likeness of himself, except tall and straight and he wanted it placed right outside his window. The father complied with his request and each day, the young lad would stand and strain, looking up, admiring the likeness of what he longed to be. On his 21st birthday, he walked out in the yard and without having to strain, he looked the statue right straight in the eye.
If you will think about this story for a moment, I believe you will see some principles here that can help any of us who have a desire to improve ourselves in some way. First, this youngster, to some degree, was handicapped. He was crippled and he was hunched-back. Now, no one likes to endure pain and many handicapped people also have to overcome stereotyping, which simply means they have been looked down on, thought inferior and many people are embarrassed to be around a handicapped person, much less be willing to give them a job. While the overall treatment of the handicapped and providing greater opportunities for them is a topic for another column, I'm proud that we have made a great deal of progress in this country over the past several years.
But back to the story of the young lad who for years had been admiring the likeness of what he longed to be: Isn't this also true for us? Don't we need to see ourselves as the person we can become, rather than the person we are? In reality, this is the secret of all achievement. When we know who we are, where we want to go and then develop a plan to get there, it’s just a matter of time until we succeed. The key word in this whole story is “longed” which is just another word for desire. You show me a ‘winner’ in any field of endeavor and I will show you a person who had a deep down longing or desire to achieve it.
We also need good models around us -- people we can look up to, admire and pattern our lives after. While it's my personal opinion which you may or may not share, I believe one of the real problems we have in America today is that we don't have enough good role models. In the case of this young lad, the role model was his father, which is exactly as it should be. When it comes to being a good role model, what’s important to realize is that many great opportunities are available to you and me. Let’s make the most of these opportunities when we have the chance. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)