Life, Liberty, & Happiness

Turning 59: Another Trip Around the Sun


o the day has arrived - I’m turning 59 - the official countdown to 60. How the hell did I get here so fast? I realize that’s a silly question, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around this backside of the 50’s as I stare into the future 60’s - 365 days from now.

I still have such vivid memories of being a child myself (and some days I suppose I can act like one -  LOL). It seems only yesterday I was playing with my children - now I’m playing with grandchildren and realizing my knees don’t hold up so well on the hardwood floor. The reality of life - and all the inevitable changes that occur - are happening. The truth is, I don’t mind getting older.

This wasn’t always the case. In my 20’s I felt immortal. In my 30’s I couldn’t imagine 40. In my 40’s - 60 felt ancient and old. Now, I simply don’t worry about it. My life is richly blessed beyond measure. I sit here today with a home; my health; an incredible spouse; a great relationship with my daughter, her husband (who I call son), two awesome grandsons, and a grand daughter on the way; and I have wonderful friends. I get to do work I love (teaching, coaching, investing) and I have a great supply of bourbon and red wine. That’s not bad at 59.

In honor of this big day, I sat down and wrote out 59 things I now know to be true - sort of life lessons. If I’m lucky and I get to 60 next year, I’ll add another observation to the list. I’ll keep going for as long as I keep going. And if I’m lucky, I’ll create a really long list.

Here they are, Michael Burcham’s 59 life lessons... more to come I hope.

  • If I want to feel pretty, a quick trip to Wal-Mart does the trick.
  • Some of the most beautiful things in life have dents, scratches and scars - including people.
  • The little things in life turn out to be the big things.
  • Your kids aren’t you - they need to make their own path.
  • Religion that requires belonging and believing what you are told isn’t transforming. It’s a cult.
  • God has a great sense of humor - just look around.
  • Gratitude multiplies happiness.
  • Why try to fit in when you were born to stand out.
  • Speak even if your voice shakes.
  • Showing vulnerability is not weakness - it takes massive courage.
  • There is no common ground in fiction - don’t even try.
  • We are more defined by what comes out of our mouth than what goes in it.
  • Before you climb the ladder of success, make sure it’s leaning against the right building.
  • Infatuation is not love. Know the difference.
  • You are in control of your own heaven or hell. They form in your mind.
  • It’s better to master one thing than to be just average at many.
  • Narcissists make really bad friends.
  • Art makes me happier than new clothes.
  • You are stronger and more resilient than you think.
  • Most of the people who condemn you in the name of God wouldn’t recognize him if they met him.
  • You’ll never know what opportunities lie behind the next door until you walk through the one in front of you.
  • Live life looking forward, learn its lessons by looking backward.
  • A meal is nicer with red wine.
  • I’ve outgrown some friends. That’s totally ok.
  • Grey hair beats no hair.
  • I prefer real books to e-books.
  • Music playing in the house makes me smile.
  • Lying is not okay. Ever. It’s the worst character flaw.
  • We all need a few guilty pleasures.
  • Being a grandparent is way better than being the parent.
  • I hope to never again set foot in a mall. Ever. Never ever.
  • A “food court” is not food. 
  • Optimism is healthier than pessimism.
  • Drunks at parties are not fun. (Never be that person.)
  • Going to bed by 9:00 PM is awesome.
  • “Move on” is great advice.
  • A genuine smile can also be seen in the eyes.
  • Buying stuff doesn’t make the emptiness go away.
  • Saying thank you matters.
  • What works for me might not be right for you. That’s OK.
  • “What’s your story?” is more interesting than “What do you do?”
  • Fulfillment is the measure of success. It’s never about the money.
  • Box wine is a sacrilege - in fact it’s the 8th deadly sin.
  • There’s no dress rehearsal in life - you get one shot. Make it count.
  • After 30 - few people change their behavior.
  • You will fail if you are brave enough.
  • Trying to out run criticism is a full time job.
  • People are rarely who we want them to be. That’s not their fault.
  • Confidence is inspiring. Arrogance is offensive. 
  • Grief is love with nowhere to go.
  • The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.
  • An argumentative person is simply showing their lack of self confidence.
  • Love heals - time doesn’t.
  • Control is an illusion.
  • What looks like luck is usually a lot of hard work.
  • Make memories of moments. They sustain you after loss.
  • The secret to success: Wake  up, Clean up, Dress up and Show up.
  • When one door closes, another door opens. Unfortunately we often spend so much time staring at the door that has closed with regret that we cannot even see the door that has opened.
  • You only get a birthday if you’re alive on this beautiful planet. So celebrate.

Time to buckle up and make another trip around the sun. 

About Dr. Michael Burcham

Michael is an executive coach, entrepreneur, investor, and strategist with 30 years of experience leading investor-backed, high-growth organizations.

“I built and sold a $40M company with Dr. Burcham as my mentor. This is the thing: if you EVER get the opportunity to learn from this man, from that moment forward, you’ll list him as one of the most influential people in your life, even if you live to be 90. And, you’ll know how lucky you were to have that opportunity and you’ll immediately say YES to any chance to be in his presence again—his wisdom is that impactful.”

Sherry Stewart Deutschmann

Former CEO, Letter Logic

“If you are looking for a trusted mentor and coach for yourself or your leadership team, I highly recommend Michael Burcham. He has worked with me as my executive coach for well over a decade now. Our conversations and his feedback have helped me sharpen my critical thinking skills. He’s a trusted advisor that I can confidentially speak with about any issue—and I know I’ll get valued feedback. I highly recommend him.”

Ryan McGrath

CEO, Asset Living

“Dr. Burcham’s depth and breadth of experience makes even the most ADD entrepreneurial leader sit up and take notes! His coaching skills bring out the ‘best you’ possible. He selflessly shares the good, the bad, and the ugly—leaving you with an authentic and moving experience sure to spur action and professional growth!”

Julie Lenzer

Director, U.S. Department of Commerce


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