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by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

Today's headlines: "Angry Baldwin Loses Visitation Rights over Phone Rant."
U.K.'s Daily Telegraph: "The Hoff in Embarrassing Drunk Video." "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. Yep, sometimes even Hollywoood is more obnoxious than talk radio.

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 plain obstinance, 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. You need to plan, then actually follow it.

Stopping with the excuses is a good start. 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 the embarrassment is relatively short-lived. The possibilities, endless. But it takes more than a public apology to fans and family. It's not a bad start, but whether a billionairess or housewife, the actions necessary to correct bad decision-making habits are the same.

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.

The key is to learn your lesson 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.

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."

Steve's latest blatant infomercial is available on YouTube and well worth five minutes, eighteen seconds of your time

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Albion Monitor   May 2, 2007   (

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