Last week I had lots of festivities set up around my birthday. It’s really kind of funny—why did I do all this? I invited all my coauthors, as many as could come, to come to our house for a little reception on Tuesday night. Then for the next couple of days we all talked about celebrating simple truths and what we’ve all done together. We talked about our body of work—what it was all about and where was it going in the future. Margie probably summed it up the best when she said it was really about being champions of self worth and individual dignity, and that everything we’ve done is to try to help make people feel important and cared for. And when people feel good about themselves, they produce good results. I think that’s probably a really good message for you as you continue to interact with each other and people at home and work. Every chance you get, ask, “How can I make the world a better place by the moment-to-moment decisions I make as I interact with other human beings, and build up their own sense of self worth?”
I’m really still amazed that the company Margie and I started with some of our friends is 30 years old, and that I’ve been able to do some of the things that I had never thought about before. People told me I couldn’t write—that I should be a college administrator. Zig Ziglar has a wonderful quote: “Regardless of your lot in life, you can build something beautiful on it.” And you know, I didn’t do it all by myself. I think that’s one of the reasons I wanted to invite everybody—because you know, my mother always said, “Why don’t you write a book by yourself?” and I would say, “Mom, I already know what I know.” So I built a wonderful life with the help of tons of people. I love another quote by Woodrow Wilson: “Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” So we not only celebrated what we’ve accomplished together, but also our friendship. It was a special time and I really enjoyed it. Seventy is not a huge number. I have always thought that I wanted to be like Norman Vincent Peale. He died quietly in his sleep at 95. So that means I have another 25 years to go! I just feel great. I was glad I was able to put a bookmark there and take a look at what we’ve done over the years. We also got a chance to get our first copies of Helping People Win at Work: A Business Philosophy called “Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A” that Garry Ridge, president of WD-40 Company, and I wrote. And then the first copies of Who Killed Change? which is the book that John Britt wrote with Judd Hoekstra and Pat Zigarmi and me. Everybody was excited to see those.
Somebody once said, “Many things will catch your eye but only a few will catch your heart. Pursue those.” I really always tried to pursue things in my heart. Maybe I didn’t always make the best decisions. I could have probably done better writing fewer books and focusing more; we could have done things a little differently, but what’s happened has happened. So my 70th birthday, I think, has just been a celebration of life. We had a wonderful time; it was way beyond my expectations, and fun. I think life, as I’ve said for a long time, is a special occasion. And I don’t intend to miss any of it and I hope you don’t either.
2 thoughts on “Celebration”
Ken, you said somebody once said, “Many things will catch your eye but only a few will catch your heart. Pursue those.” I think you are a worthy person to give credit for saying it. Having read some of your books, it probably was you who said it anyway. Many more years to you to serve and to love.
Having been an indirect-client and a benefactor of your work in the corporate world–I would add that you have developed a critical trait…you “lead with care”. Thus you are not “threatening”–rather you are “accessible”. So many corporate and insitutional cultures remain fearful of the “c” word or they use it to the point of dilution or they use it without meaning it. (And, of course everyone knows it!) Congratulations and thank you sir!
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