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Monday, November 1, 2010

I Am My Father's Son

Welcome back to my second Creating Careers with Confidence (CCC) blog.
In my first blog, I briefly introduced the term CAREER-LIFE.  I’ll get into the discussion about career-life very soon in an up-coming blog. This exciting new paradigm will set the stage for many other discussions we will have here.

I think some of these ideas about career-life, will change your outlook on yourself and your life forever...or maybe at least for a few years. That would be great, wouldn’t it!

If you want a visual preview of career-life, visit my Creating Careers with Confidence PowerPoint to enjoy some fun images and very useful information. You will see some research-based facts for youth and adults regarding this global labor market and challenging economy that affects all of us.

In my first blog, I also spoke about my first major career dilemma, deciding whether to remain enrolled in the pre-med program at Boston University, or leave. Huge choice!

You may recall I was doing poorly in college and worried about what direction I should be taking...should I stay or leave?  I didn’t want to appear to be giving up, but I had no life, and this was not a great time for me at all.

I thought college was supposed to be filled with new friends, dances (we called them “mixers” back them), independence, and interesting courses that you’re passionate about!

I had a few friends, hadn’t really discovered women (so the dances weren’t happening), was living at home (no independence), and my courses drained me, totally. Like I said, NO LIFE! In fact, whatever life I had felt like a great big disconnect!  Not a good thing for me at all.

So why was I in pre-med with this major disconnect at 18? How did I get here?


I was thinking about the field of medicine for a number of years, but actually decided on being a physician at the age of 14. Why a doctor way back then?  Something very specific happened that influenced me to actually “decide” as you will learn further on, but something else influenced my thinking about medicine throughout my early childhood. I am my father’s son!

My Dad was an OBGYN surgeon-what some people to this day refer to as a “baby doctor”. He started off being a general practice physician after his return from his time in the US Army as a Captain serving with the medical corps. His office was actually attached to our home when I was in the third grade. By the time I was 10, Dad was a Board Certified OBGYN Surgeon and had published an article in the OBGYN medical journal on ectopic pregnancies. Amazingly, I discovered my Dad’s article on Google, as I was doing research for this blog (Colozzi, Anthony E.).

It opens with a quote by another physician discussing ectopic pregnancies, who stated, “the history of human injury presents no condition to parallel thus one”, and then my Dad begins to describe the ordeal of this 21-year old woman who was his patient. She had lots of unusual pain; and she was pregnant, with a diagnosis of a threatened abortion. My Dad described his experience with clinical and powerful words that made me feel I was right beside him as he tried to help his young patient.

I had never read that article until I was preparing this blog. It was emotional for me to read my father’s words, especially since he died many years ago in 1988 from two brain tumors that robbed him of many more wonderful experiences in this life, and robbed his family of so many more wonderful years with our Dad. Mom was a special influence as well, especially her creativity and passion for helping others, and more about her in a later blog. Now back to Dad. 

Dad made a career change in his 30’s while he was doing his general practice as a physician. He went back to school part-time, and every day after his medical practice job, he came home for supper, and studied every night. He then passed the exams to become board certified, and later he was recognized as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

So our whole family was used to medical discussions at the dinner table. This early exposure to medicine and hospitals, and discussion about the daily high’s and low’s of an OB Doc at the dinner table influenced me to think about the medical field. But one specific incident influenced me to actually decide-to make the choice!


My Dad invited me to join him for a ride to the hospital where he worked. It was about 1 PM on a Sunday afternoon, and HE was on his way to deliver a baby-- only HE did not mention that small detail to ME! I thought he only wanted some company because he was going to do a brief errand at the hospital. SOME ERRAND!!

So we pulled up to the physician's parking stall and started walking toward the hospital. 

I had visited the hospital many times before. My Dad would often drive there to meet someone, or drop off something. Whoever was in the car (Mom, brothers or sisters), would usually wait in the car or go inside to the main lobby and wait until he was finished. Then we would all go home. We would even stop there sometime on a Sunday on the way to eat at our favorite pizza parlor, so the routine was pretty normal. Oh hum...

But this was NOT going to be an “oh, hum” day by any stretch of my farthest imagination! No, I was about to have a huge life changing experience.

Ever have these? Aren’t they really freaky, but so perfect for the most part, later on in life? Someone says something to us, or something happens to us, and we know it seems to mean something,  but we’re not sure what. It may excite us, even bother us, and we sort of take note of it, or just have this funny feeling about it...and then, WHAP!

It hits us, sometimes years later, and we GET IT, and we think, “So ‘that’s’ what that was all about!”.

Do you ever have these experiences? Have you been able to see the patterns, those Hansel and Gretel crumbs in the forest that lead us to insights and “ah-ha’s” in life?


Back to the hospital... I should have known something was up as soon as I started to walk toward an open seat in the lobby, and my Dad told me to follow him. (I've heard about other OR visits like mine in days past, and this probably doesn't occur as often these days) 

As I followed him through the doors clearly marked, “For Hospital Staff Only” (that wouldn’t be me), and we walked toward the Physician dressing room, Dad turned around and simply shared that he wanted me to learn a little more about what he did for work.

Now I already knew Dad was a “baby doctor”; he delivered babies. That’s what “baby doctors” do. “So why am I here?”, I silently wondered as he beckoned to two nurses and asked them, “ to get me dressed.” So now I’m beginning to smell a conspiracy!

“Get me dressed!” I thought, why do I need to get dressed. I was already dressed. And then I remember to this very day having the thought, “Uh oh! I think I know where this is going.”

Okay, so you see the picture, obviously more clearly than I did back then. This had to be one of those classic “DUH!” moments, but those days, no one had yet invented the “duh” word.


So there I was, all dressed up in my green outfit looking quite like Mother Hubbard, totally covered, including my little green booties and a mask. I looked like a very small version a doctor because I was very short and thin, and whatever I was wearing was way to huge for me.

A nurse brought me into the delivery room, put two pieces of masking tape on the floor where she had positioned me, and whispered to me, “Ed your father is so excited to have you be with him and all of us today. Just don’t go beyond this position I have marked here.”, and she walked away.

Like I really was about to just go walking all over that delivery room wherever I wanted! 

I didn’t need the masking tape! But at some level, I was sure glad it was there because this was all pretty new to me, and that tape suddenly seemed like my new best friend.

Sort of like Tom Hanks and his best buddy “Wilson”, the soccer ball (it was a Wilson brand), that ended up stranded on the same beach with Tom, onto which they had just washed up after a plane crash in the movie Cast Away.

Tom Hanks was stranded there for four years, so he and Wilson had many life experiences with each other. This masking tape and I had just met, and already it had become one of my new best friends, and I hadn’t even given it a name!

So the woman in labor is brought in, and she glances over to me, (I’m standing slightly behind her to her left), and seemingly she has this look in her eyes as she gazed at this tiny doctor (me!- maybe she thought I was a specialist of some sort or a back-up Doc).

The look was sort of, “Hi doctor, this is my first!” and I gave her a look back that surely communicated, “Hi lady, this is my first as well!” (“Another new best friend”, I thought, and I still remember her look to this day!)

Then the delivery process began. It seemed to go along very well, at least from what little I knew or expected should be occurring. The team consisted of my Dad, the anesthesiologists, and three nurses. They were all doing their specific jobs, each of them working on their tasks, but all part of the team to support my Dad who was coordinating the main effort.

And all that “conversation”!... including a little joking, was a huge surprise to me. I couldn’t believe how they all (including my Dad) talked about hockey games, the weather, golf scores, politics, and whatever people would bring up. “Why do they allow all this talking in the delivery room?”, I asked myself. But I guess that’s happens more often than not as a way to somehow help the team reduce stress and stay on focus, which they were, as could be readily seen as each continued to do all their tasks in such a precise way.

Then, the conversation suddenly stopped.  The room was silent. It was as though someone had just pulled the plug, and there was a huge energy shift!

My Dad started asking the anesthesiologist a few technical questions, and then ordered the nurse opposite him to do something, then to the other nurse, another order to do something else. Something was wrong. The team snapped into high gear, with my Dad driving the entire effort as he told people exactly what he needed them to do, including the woman on the table having the baby!

His manner was respectful, very assertive, and confident. But I seldom saw this side of my Dad. I was amazed to witness this, yet not entirely surprised at a much deeper level.  This went on for what seemed to be an eternity, but it must have been closer to 5-7 minutes.

Apparently the umbilical cord was somehow wrapped around the baby’s neck, life-threatening to the baby, and potentially devastating to the mother and everyone else as well.

More minutes of tense suspense, orders for what people needed to do, quick actions, more orders... and then, out of nowhere...

... the most wonderful sound I have ever heard in my life, the cutest (and loudest) cry from this tiny infant who had just joined Plant Earth and all of us under (what probably seemed to him at the time), 10 million watts of high powered lights shining down on him (yes, those delivery room lights were pretty bright! I think all babies should be fitted with tiny baby sunglasses the moment they are born).

Tears we’re flowing from the eyes of the nurses facing me, certainly from his Mom’s, my eyes, and I’m betting, my Dad’s as well.

And this powerful thought suddenly swept over me, enveloped me, and pushed me into some sense of certitude (at least for the next four years of my life), and I made a choice...I decided something big...

“I’m going to be a doctor, like my Dad!”


There is a difference between...
 “thinking” about making a choice...
 to do something, change your behavior, choose a college major or career path, change career fields, quit a job, etc., and...
 “actually deciding”, making a choice, and deciding to take action.

I was “thinking” lots about medicine for a number of years but had not made a definite choice to take action. That day in the delivery room, moments after that new baby was born let out his first cry announcing to his Mom and the world, “I’m finally here!”, I then “decided” to take action, and I committed to be a doctor.

Fast forward ahead to my dilemma at BU. Life happens, you don’t do well in certain courses. Your life is stressed, missing something. You might feel as I did and think, “I have no life!”, and then something happens, and you see the light.

You might be in a similar situation but instead of wondering about your college major, you might be dealing with a difficult job situation that is toxic. 

  • Should you look for something different that better suites you?
  • How do you do this in a tight job market?
Maybe there are several ways to accomplish this, but you’re afraid to explore this further because of self-doubt. 

Maybe you have raised a family for many years. Now that your children are “on their own” so to speak, you feel the need to explore new avenues. But somehow you also feel held back, uncertain about what you really have to offer, especially if you think you lack certain education credentials, job experience, or maybe you’ve been out of your previous field for too many years and feel “rusty”.

  • What are your options?
  • Have you had these experiences?
  • Do you feel your life is off track, or on a side road that doesn’t lead anywhere?
  • Are you lacking direction and feeling hopeless, some despair, even depression?
Most of us have been there; it’s part of the human journey for all of us. I call it... the road most traveled.

You’re not alone. There are Helpful Resources to assist you, including human and Internet-based. Reach out, ask questions, become informed, and take charge of YOUR life. It’s the only one you have, so make it count, beginning now. 

Visit my profile to learn more about me or obtain my e-mail if you have any questions. Please also view my brief video where I explain the work I do, and you can determine if I might be of some assistance to you, or someone you know who is experiencing a career-life transition. 

Thanks for taking your time to read this.
Please consider making any comments and share YOUR ideas about these topics.

You count and matter, and your opinion is valuable, no matter where you live, whatever your level of education, cultural background, and particular situation. You are on your career-life journey. As you discover YOUR CALLING and your mission on this Planet, I want you to BELIEVE that your contribution to all of us is indeed important. EAC


  1. Your father sounds like he was a wonderful guy.

    For many years, I thought that the people who succeed at their careers were the ones who were smarter than their co-workers. I believed that the best lawyer/teacher/baker was the smartest lawyer/teacher/baker.

    Then when I was 19 I took a job in the computer lab at a community college. There were a couple of really accomplished older night students - including a couple of lawyers and a doctor - who were taking a computer class just to see what all the fuss was about.

    I assumed that they would be star students because they were obviously very bright. I was shocked to discover that when it came to computer programming, these incredibly smart people were totally inept.

    It turns out that career success is not so much about being smart or talented as it is about finding your place in the world.

    Michael Jordan was a great basketball player but he sucked at baseball.

    Your experience at BU reminded me of how I have found myself thinking "I'm not smart enough for this" when my career was off-course in the past. But that wasn't the case at all. I was just working at the wrong thing.

    When a career doesn't work out it is heartbreaking, but I imagine it was even worse for you because you wanted to follow in your beloved father's footsteps.

    But the fact that it didn't work out isn't a reflection on you. Your father was brilliant and you are brilliant, but you are brilliant in different ways. Like me, you were working on the wrong thing. You are your father's son, but you are not your father.

    Of course, you know all of that because the thing you are brilliant at is getting people working on the right thing for them. :-)

  2. Thanks for sharing Rick,
    Yes, Dad was/is great, and I talk with him daily and ask for his continued guidance with my own career-life journey; I don't have all the answers, and always want to be a better person, counselor, father, etc..

    RE your comment about the role of skills/abilities in success, I think lots of us normally think that way, that skills determine success ( some even would include happiness), and that the smart folks are probably smart in just about everything. You give a great example writing about Michael Jordan. He may have had an interest in pursuing baseball, but certainly not the passion that led him to achieve such greatness in his basketball career.

    Yes, skills are important (no one is going keep paying you money for a job if you don't do it well), but I believe interests (are you sufficiently interested in what you're doing?) and values (are you doing what truly IS IMPORTANT for you to be doing with your time and energy that also contributes to having some sense of meaning and purpose?) are more important then the traditional focus on skills/ability to do the job. Of course I believe VALUES are the most important influence on ALL career-life choices we have ever made, are making, and will make, throughout our lives.

    A note about special talents...If most people discovered what best matched their true interests and deep-seeded work values, I believe they would also discover some special talents that they have been equipped with already, to then pursue their true calling! Of course this might also involve some re-tooling etc., but they will surely be motivated to do that as part of their journey to pursue their career goal.

    ** It is far easier to learn new skills that match your interests and values than to re-learn new interests and values to match your present skill sets.

    Like you said, " I am my father's son, but am not my father". And, he provided many important lessons in life that I could then use in my career-life journey.

    My next blog will reveal critical words my Dad spoke when I announced my decision about the BU pre-med program. They may seem obvious, but more parents need to use similar words to help their young children and young adults develop and mature with a strong work ethic, personal agency, and authentic motivation to work. Thanks again Rick for your valued comments.

  3. Great blog! It definitely makes you think about your calling in life. There are many things one could be good at or even GREAT at...but there is something to be said for having passion for doing it each and every day. It is also interesting to look at someone who is passionate about what they do and it inspires you to try it and when you do you realize....hmmmm....not the right path for me. That is a great learning lesson. I have also realized that as life changes, and as you and a person change...sometimes your callings become more clear and as you mention you feel the need to "explore more avenues." New mom's face this, parents returning to work after raising kids, people who are doing huge career transitions. Thanks for sharing your experience and for reminding us that we ALL take this career life journey!

  4. Hi "Anonymous",
    Thanks for your comments. Yes, there's lots to be said for finding work that gives you deep meaning and purpose, or doing something in ANY of the career and life roles one chooses to play. Remember, paid work is but one role; so many people are playing several roles, so the key is to be choosing wisely how to put forth one's time and energy in ways that DO provide meaning and purpose, including being a parent, or as many people do after they retire from paid work, spending time volunteering (the citizen role).
    Also, I agree that finding someone who has great passion for her/his work can be inspiring to observe, even if one realizes that another path will probably be more satisfying to the observer. How special to be reminded that life is too short, so why not do the things that's really matter in life, across all life roles.
    Finally, I have learned from my clients over the years, that the career-life journey does in fact trim your sails, and nudge you towards your TRUE North Star. We do get clearer as we progress through life. We just need to remain conscious of our direction, and take full responsibility as the captain at the helm of our own ship, to sail those challenging seas, deal with those rogue waves, those dark nights, and use our skills, positive attitude, and whatever faith tradition nurtures us, to keep on keepin' on. "LIfe really ain't over, until it's over", and if you're reading this blog, you're still here, and that's great news:) Thanks again for your wonderful comments. Ed

  5. Amen to finding the TRUE North star! :)