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  • Writer's pictureJoe Colaizzo

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

For many of you, these last few months of the year are not only filled with the annual anxiety about what gifts Santa will be bringing but maybe even more so about what gifts your boss will be bringing in the form of your year-end appraisal. This really is a wonderful time.

The end result is the same no matter where you work.

A select few will receive a glowing review. You significantly exceeded your goals and the expectations of your boss and the firm. You are the shit and are well on your way to the corner office. Congratulations.

There is also a select few who are not as fortunate. You missed the mark and must do better next year. You are definitely not the shit so let’s put together a performance plan so we can monitor your progress. (Yes, you are documenting everything for better or for worse). Best of luck to you.

And then there is the rest of you. “Nice Job.” “Keep doing what you’re doing.” “It’s all good.” “You’re good.” “Sorry but I have to cut this a little short to get to a holiday lunch.”

This post is for you.

Chances are you might not be that thrilled about that message. You’re average. Middle of the pack. Sure, you don’t suck but you’re also not the shit. You’re just – good.

But really, why are you a little pissed off? What’s wrong with being good? Now, if you did not try your best then that’s one thing and you should be pissed at yourself, but let’s just say for the sake of this post that you honestly put in your best effort all the time. And your best effort was good.

Take a look around at all of your colleagues who are also, most likely, good. I’m sure you will probably see you are in “good” company.

In 2018, the United States population totaled 327.2 million people. Of that there is the often admired and often berated top 1% (3,272,000). There is also the unfortunate 11.8% who live below the poverty line (38,609,000). That leaves a hell of a lot of folks somewhere in the middle.

So, to look at it another way, for 3.3 million people, life is freaking awesome. For 38.6 million people, life is damn hard. And for the rest (285 million), life is for the most part……. good.

So maybe being good is not all that bad after all. The vast majority of us are……. good.

The problem is that we have been conditioned that being good is just not good enough. It really starts from the moment we pop out of the womb when our ever-loving parents tell us that we can do anything we want to do (and we told the same thing to our kids by the way). My mom repeatedly told me I could be anything I wanted to be. But no matter how much I tried and wanted it; I was never going to throw a fastball 95 miles per hour. Thanks anyway mom but I guess you lied. (My phone is going to be ringing soon).

And therefore, the problem with aforementioned problem is that we then constantly compare ourselves to others. He got drafted because his fastball is faster than mine. She got the promotion and I didn’t. They have a nicer house. Their kids go to a fancy school. The neighbor’s grass is greener. Blah, Blah, Blah. That constant comparison blinding us to how good we actually are.

I want to reiterate; you should always do your best and aspire to greatness, and you should encourage others to greatness. Just make sure that your definition of greatness is the greatest version of you. Not someone else’s definition of great. You are not them and they are not you. And you should know that they are also comparing themselves to others (maybe even you) for things they are not great at. You may be a better cook, more artistic, more musical, more athletic, etc., etc. Shit, I’m certainly no Stephen King but I think this little pastime I’ve started is pretty good. And I’m happy with that.

The next time you begin to compare yourself to someone else, I hope after reading this you will first look in the mirror and compare yourself to you. Do your best. Appreciate your best. And you might just appreciate yourself and your life a little more.

And while you are realizing that your average and overall good existence is actually quite great, take a listen to this instrumental, “Fanfare_For_The_Common_Man” by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They covered the original masterpiece by Aaron Copland. It may not rise to the same legendary level of Mr. Copland’s, but it’s good.

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  • Writer's pictureJoe Colaizzo

In the winter of 1929, a struggling, 25 year old artist and his wife were thrown out of the family home. He had disappointed his father for the last time. Making matters worse, due to his father’s influence, the banishment extended to the entire village. So the penniless couple were forced to venture far away, ultimately finding a tiny shack in the small fishing village of Port Lligat, Spain.

Determined to support his family through his art, this young artist persevered to follow his passion and just about a year later, it is from this tiny shack that Salvador Dali’s genius emerged with the painting of The Persistence of Memory. You know, the melting clocks.

There are many interpretations of The Persistence of Memory which to me means that there is no correct interpretation. And since I might argue that the meaning of art is whatever one wants the meaning to be, I would like to share mine.

The clocks represent, uh, time. But they are melting which is therefore an indication of the gradual and inevitable loss of the time we have. There is also a swarm of ants attacking one of the clocks indicating the never-ending attacks on our time.

And then there is the title, The Persistence of Memory. The memories that persist in our lives. The memories that persist in our souls.

So, with time continuing to melt away, the way we use our time is paramount to achieve the memories that we want to persist in our lives and our souls. There is used time, and then there is “remembered” time.

So, what the hell is the point of all this? Bear with me.

With a bit of time on my hands nowadays, I have been thinking a lot, for better or for worse, about my current departure and what direction I want it to go. (See: Anything_Can_Happen) I’ve made the list of “must haves” and “can’t haves” as I was instructed to do. At this point in my career, I should feel obligated to define these as the search begins. Compensation, Commute, Size of Team, Company Culture, Boss Fit, etc., etc. Yet, my mind keeps bringing me to something from my days as a consultant.

Consultants work ridiculous hours. 12-hour days were on the low end as client expectations of results, not to mention the enormous fees they were paying us, demanded presence.

One project was in support of a major bank’s technology department. A large-scale implementation and therefore, given its importance, the head of technology (we’ll call him Tom) was with us every day and every hour. We understood that this implementation was simply the next in a multiyear sequence of technology builds so, while we came and would ultimately go, Tom was there long before and would undoubtedly be there long after.

One night during a break for dinner, at approximately ten o’clock, Tom looked particularly exhausted. I asked him how the hell he was able to keep up this pace for all these years. His answer remains with me.

“Well Joe, for 364 days a year, I work fifteen hours a day, get yelled at, feel unappreciated and think about quitting. And on the 365th day they drop a bag of money in my lap. And that keeps me here for another 364 days”.


All those missed birthdays, first steps, bedtime stories, peaceful nights with the family and overall mental health. Those precious memories that he won’t have and can’t have. Think about that. Can you imagine what I thought that night? Well, that remains with me as well.

“Wow!!! That’s awesome! God, what I wouldn’t do for a bag of money to be dropped in my lap someday!”

Tsk, Tsk, Tsk. Silly little consultant.

Sometimes I think I am just getting stupider as each day passes. My kids would attest to that. But then there are times that I am thankful for the bit of wisdom I have gained over the years (Hey! I’m not that old yet). The wisdom to appreciate the meaning of a not so silly little artist’s painting which was quite wise beyond his young age (remember this is my interpretation). The depiction of time, its limits, and its relationship to the memories we ultimately gain from it.

I stare at my list. If I do this right, I’ll have a better chance to make the most of all 365 days.

My pen scribbles a new requirement at the top of the “Must Have” column.

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  • Writer's pictureJoe Colaizzo

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

I certainly hope you recognize that quote. If not, I'll confess that I have never seen Stripes nor Pulp Fiction, so I guess we’re even. But I digress.

I had the chance to hang out with my brother this past weekend. It's been a really long time since I saw him last. Work, kids, and life all get in the way as we all know. But I got a text on Friday night to say that he was shuttling my nephew down near me for a lacrosse tournament. Lord knows I am free, so I met him at the field in between the first and second game.

In the midst of tournament madness, I was quickly captivated by an intense pickup game of Lacrosse Baseball. You haven’t heard of Lacrosse Baseball? Oh, you should’ve. It’s a great game.

Lacrosse Baseball is a game where a group of kids, mostly strangers, meet on a field and use their creativity to make up a game with the equipment at their disposal, choose sides, compete, share, laugh, win, lose. And not once do they stop to check their iPhones. And not once does a parent get involved.

I am sure I am not alone when I say that I usually get quite frustrated when my kids are lost in a YouTube stupor. Well, Lacrosse Baseball gave me hope. Hope that the foundations of friendship and play are not totally lost. Hope that creativity is not limited to a touch screen, a keyboard, and a mouse. Hope that there is more to life than a tv, a computer, and an app.

Another nicety was that it was as if we saw each other just yesterday. I’m sure at one point or another my brother thought “God Damn! Doesn’t this guy text or call anymore?” (Yes David, I thought that too). But we picked right up. I hope we'll always know that it doesn’t matter how long it has been. What matters is when we are there.

He asked me how my kids are, so I told him a quick story about my youngest son, John. John doesn’t talk much. Autism is really good at limiting conversation and while we sometimes get a word or two it’s usually a one-word command. ”iPad!” Ugh!!

But the other weekend, when John was with me, I asked him how his job was. The bi-weekly question and answer session usually pisses John off as he is trying to focus on the beautiful calculator that comes pre-loaded on the iPad. I expected the usual “Good” and then the silence that conveys “Get the hell out of my face, Dad.” Instead, I got “Daddy, I put the shoes on the shelves and folded the shirts.”

Can you imagine how my jaw fell on the floor? Holy Shit!!! Where the hell did that come from?

If you know anyone with autism you know that the disability sucks. The impacts on communication and social interactions are so frustrating. (and yes, I’m saying it’s frustrating for me. I’m sure it’s frustrating for John too). So many times, you can almost see the words there, but they just can’t come out.

But then there are times like that weekend where either the words break through, or their unique form of communication really connects and you realize that while it may suck, it’s the way they are and it’s really ok. Times like that give me hope that there is still more to come with John. I hope that his life is as fulfilling for him as “he” wants it to be.

I find I am more aware of, and reflect better on, these life moments we get from time to time. I think a bunch of ups and downs along the way has trained me to notice things a little differently than I had in the past

I hope I will have another fun weekend with my brother soon.

I hope that John will tell me a little more about work when I see him next.

I hope this break gave you a moment to reflect.

I hope you will send me your thoughts and maybe even share this blog with a friend or two.

I hope.

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