Birthdays come around a lot faster than they used to. Games of Pin The Tail on the Donkey and richly frosted chocolate cake with brightly lit candles have transformed into pitchers of margaritas and deep fried Mexican chimichangas. Racing around the back yard chasing childhood friends in a sweaty game of Tag has turned into running around the office chasing down the latest sales update figures to include in the "ump-teenth" revision of the upcoming big presentation. Adding a new action figure to your G.I. Joe collection back then seemed so much more meaningful than the act of adding another virtual friend, who you've never actually met, to your Facebook page today.
Am I sounding reminiscent? Hey, I've got the right. I just had a birthday! Birthdays give us that time to pause and take stock in wondering where in the heck another year went. I was just getting used to the two digits that made up my age before my birthday and now I've got to change it once again to the next click on the odometer of life. Age doesn't bother me really. I am still young and I refuse to bend to chronology. I am in better shape now than I was 10 years ago (last week I did 8 one-arm push ups... Jack Palance, you are my inspiration).
In November last year, I accepted a major promotion and moved onto a new company after spending 9 fantastic years, having worked on three different continents, with my previous employer. The decision to move was no easy one to make and I didn't take it lightly. No matter what my age says about me, inside I am still that kid who likes to discover new things and challenge himself. And because of that youthful quest that never wanes, I took up the challenge to do something totally unproven and untested with a new organization that sought me out for my experience, perspective, and leadership. The stage has now been set and the curtain has just now risen on this new act but there is no doubt that I will learn a tremendous amount from this experience, and probably even more about myself.
The act of getting presents has changed since childhood as well. Back then, your parents were the source of your toy supply. Today, we are usually the ones that buy the bigger toys for ourselves. Many have said that the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. I would have to agree with that adage since recently I just bought myself a set of golf clubs. I must admit that I bought these clubs under complete duress. I was told in a staff meeting by my boss that I needed to learn the game of golf and that my first action was to go out and buy the best clubs I could find. This was not a joke and after this mandate was re-told by my boss several times in front of both fellow peers and customers, I decided I best hurry up and begin channeling my inner Ben Hogan. Now, I am no newbie to swinging a club but I've never actually had a formal lesson on the game in my life. I cut my teeth on the sport as a teenager taking up divots at the local Muni course wearing shorts with holes in them and ratty tennis shoes. In Asia, golf is something much more serious and is played for business and relationship building. Needless to say my credit card was put into overdrive to outfit myself last weekend with new irons, putter, bag, glove, and shoes. I've now appropriately achieved the Singaporean act of looking like I know what I am doing by outfitting myself in the latest gear. Time and much practice will tell the tale on whether I can actually deliver on the looks with real performance on the fairways. F-O-R-E !!!!
Although the activities, the presents, and even the food and drink that surrounds the act of marking another year of life are different today, you can't stop birthdays from happening and I don't think I would ever want to. Birthdays still provide that oh so brief reflective moment to see where we've been and maybe even that inspiration to guide us on where we may be headed next.