Jewish World Review May 7, 2007 / 19 Iyar 5767

Steve Young

Steve Young
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Bad Luck Can Be The Best Luck of All: Hilton, Baldwin and Hasselhoff have an opportunity of a lifetime

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Hollywood.com: "Angry Baldwin Loses Visitation Rights over Phone Rant."

U.K.'s Daily Telegraph: "The Hoff in Embarrassing Drunk Video."

ABC.com: "Paris Hilton Runs Out of Luck."

All sounds pretty bad. Embarrassment? Humiliation? Probably. But bad news? Not necessarily. In fact, it could become the luckiest thing that ever happened to any of them, or us.

Paris Hilton, Alec Baldwin, David Hasselhoff, Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Don Imus. It may seem to be more passenger list for the Titanic than role models for your kids, but looking past the celebrity, their plummeting reputations and escalating humiliation there lies grande opportunities. If not for them, then for us.

Hilton's sentence didn't shock many, except for Hilton herself, and that in itself shouldn't be surprising. The one driving a car off a cliff is always the last one who wants to admit that cliff's edge applies to them, or if it does, not to worry...their magic car has Thelma and Louise wings. Fantasy or just plain stubborn, it's Russian roulette just waiting for the winning chamber.

So many who need to learn, like St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, Josh Hancock and actress/model Anna Nicole, never get the message in time. To those like Spears, Hilton, Baldwin and Hasselhoff, it's still not too late.

Problem is that they all seem to be think that talking or thinking their way into altering their conduct.

The solution lies not just in words, but from real commitments to not make the same mistakes again. Not in thinking about changing, but following a plan that drives change. For only then can true growth take place. Ever wonder why New Years resolutions fade into memory around January 3rd? Making a resolution without a plan and expecting it to work is like skimming a rock across a lake and expecting the ripple to last forever. You need to plan. Then you actually need to follow it.

You want to get healthier? Exercise more. Eat better. Lower your stress.

Problem. Plan.

Stopping with the excuses helps get you started. In the cases of our three most recent "celebraslips," they admitted to guilt, but with an explanation. You see, your honor, they "made" me do it.

Hilton said it was her publicist who led her to believe that her driver's license was no longer suspended. Baldwin told the View audience that it was a mistake, not what he did but who he did it to...i.e. the tirade against his daughter was meant for his wife.

You can't start taking responsibility if you keep laying the blame elsewhere and you certainly can't begin to learn from your mistakes if you believe it's not your fault in the first place.

David Hasselhoff has said that he "learned" from his YouTube fall off the wagon. But he immediately watered down any intrinsic learning with his unfortunate rationalization. "I did have a brief relapse, but part of recovery is relapse." Relapses may happen to recovering alcoholics, but nowhere in Alcoholics Anonymous is it written that relapse is a part of recovery. It's like saying car accidents are part of getting good auto body work It's part of the problem, not part of the answer.

All of these high-profilers found themselves in a demeaning spotlight. But embarrassment is relatively short-lived. The possibilities, endless.

Former Minnesota Viking great, Jim Marshall, mistakenly ran the wrong way and scored for the opposing team...on national television. He never made an excuse, nor holed up in the locker room. He just came out in the second half and played the best game of his life, ending up by forcing the fumble that lead to his team scoring the winning touchdown.

Of course, change can be terrifying, especially when something that seemed to work so well becomes exactly what you have to lose. Liquor. Drugs. Anger. Ego. All helping to get through life...and all carrying you closer to the loaded chamber.

Getting the public's attention is never difficult for celebrities.

Getting the celebrity to pay attention is something else. Sometimes you need the click of an empty chamber to sound an alarm loud enough to get your attention. Without the humiliation, without the failure, without the "bad luck," you may never notice that the gun you're about to shoot is aimed at your head.

Any situation stops being a failure event as soon as we attempt to learn from it. Learning from it doesn't include making excuses for your actions. Learning from it means you have to actually put down the gun you're holding before you can you start making the real changes necessary to modify your behavior.

You'd like to learn your lessons as cheaply and as privately as possible.

But short of that, videos run viral, telephone message machines and those darn butinski publicists may be the only things standing between a long life and a short cliff. The looking-good train has long left the station.

But even if the celebs choose not to learn from their failures doesn't mean we can't. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Learn from others' mistakes. We don't have the time to make them all ourselves."

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JWR contributor Steve Young is author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful: Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and Other Stepping Stones to Success," and can be heard on Los Angeles's KTLK AM 1150, Saturdays 1-4 PM. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2004, Steve Young