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At 60: Much Accomplished, Much Still to Do

by on July 07, 2020 5:00 AM


The turning 60 jokes came swiftly and often in recent days:

At 60, your favorite song now plays in elevators.

At 60, your back goes out more often than you do.

Sixty is the new...what was I saying?

I have no problem being the butt of jokes. I probably deserve it.  However, as I often remind my family, you get no points for dissing me because I am too easy of a target.

On July 6, the “Oldometer” officially turned from 59 to 60.  At 60, much has been accomplished, much is still left to be done. 

At 60, you reach another milestone birthday that is supposed to make you feel different. In reality, this one does for me. But in a positive way! I am excited for all the possibilities that await (as long as I stay healthy) as I enter the fourth quarter or, in hockey terms, the third period of my life. I hope to finish strong as there is still plenty of living left to do. Still much for me to do to help others.

At 60, I believe it’s also a great time to look back, take stock of how I have lived my life, and to say thank you to all the good people (mostly) and even the bad (some) who have taught me life's lessons and helped me on my journey.

So, I decided to do my own “You Review” as I turn 60. In full disclosure, I am writing this from the deck of former Penn State Icer Mike Pietrangelo’s Sea Isle City beach house. Masks and safe distancing protocols are intact.

Have I lived a good life so far? Have I served others? Have I lived with an “attitude of gratitude?” Have I been “successful?”

Have I lived a good life so far? To quote the legendary guitarist Joe Walsh, “Life’s been good to me so far.” I have been blessed with an amazing wife and three awesome children, loving extended families and great friends from very diverse walks of life. Aside from a few bumps along the way, we have avoided any real tragedies in our lives. We have so much to be grateful for and so many to thank for helping us live such a full life.

Have I served others? I can say with confidence, yes. But there is still so much more that I can do for others. Service before leadership. What do I someday want people to say about me?  Simply this: He cared. I am most definitely flawed, but have tried to grow, tried to become a better person and will continue to help others live joyful, meaningful and passionate lives.

Have I lived with an “attitude of gratitude?” I try my best. I have fallen short of being as intentionally grateful in letting all the people in my life who have positively impacted me know how much they are appreciated. To my parents, wife, kids (I am so proud of them!), family, friends, mentors, coaches, teachers, small group Bible study family, Coffee Club buddies, “Icer family” members, Penn State Hockey teammates, players, coaches, staff, volunteers, parents... well you get the picture. Thank you all. I am truly blessed.

Have I been “successful?” It all starts with how you define success. If I put it in the context of my top five core values of Faith, Family, Financial Security, Fitness and Fulfillment, I am most definitely still a work in progress. There is nothing wrong with that by the way, as it gives me purpose and daily motivation to strive for the things that matter most.

In my faith walk, I know I have fallen short, but I am making a lot of progress thanks in large part to my wife, my small group Bible study family and a personal commitment to be more intentional in my efforts. My family, well that depends on who you ask! Yes, family is a priority and hey, our three adult children still talk to us even after being cooped up with us since mid-March.

Financial security? Yes, in spite of COVID-19, we are still on track to “retire” early meaning we can work if we want to, not because we have to. I have my wife to thank for sharing the same fiscal goals and being a lifelong saver (Dave Ramsey would approve). Fitness, I am a work in progress. Overall, I am still relatively healthy despite a few surgeries and concussions, and yes, I am a little overweight. A new inversion table, Peloton and hopefully a return to adult hockey will help.  My kids are shaming me into taking better care of myself.

Fulfillment… essentially, it’s “what I have done with my life, especially for others.” I believe a lot. No need to list them here. I still have much to accomplish. I’ve swung and missed at a few goals and have often fallen short at living up to my potential but that’s OK. You know what that means? I’m human. Better to have swung and missed than to have never stepped to the plate.  My father’s favorite song, Frank Sinatra’s timeless classic “My Way,” has always resonated with me. “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.”

What does the future hold? Personally, I strive for contentment and peace of mind. Professionally, whatever I can do to help others to grow. I firmly believe that personal development leads to professional success.  A book by Lloyd Reeb, “From Success to Significance: When the Pursuit of Success Isn't Enough,” is all about what we do for others by passionately pursuing a purpose greater than self. 

As I look back at some of my best memories I am first drawn to family and major life events including marriage, having kids, family gatherings, attending weddings and graduations and seeing our oldest get great jobs. Sports have played a significant part in my life and I have been fortunate to win a lot of team championships, both as a player and a coach. I can tell you it’s not about the trophies. It’s about the memories, sharing that feeling with others and the relationships. It’s seeing how many former players have gone on to successful careers and become wonderful spouses, fathers and even coaches. It’s about living a joyful, meaningful, purposeful and passionate life.

What about my personal “bucket list?” Oh yes, I have one of those and it’s a lot of fun to look back in amazement over all the adventures and activities I have experienced. In no particular order I have blessed to have:

Hiked Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala; visited Honolulu, Maui and the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor; stood at the top of Mount Lussari in the Italian Alps; toured the Grand Canyon, skied in Colorado, gone white water rafting down the Salmon River in Idaho; swam with sharks in Cancun, Mexico; toured over 20 Civil War Battlefields including Gettysburg multiple times; held the Stanley Cup (three different times); attended two Super Bowls, multiple college football bowl games (including leading the “We Are Penn State” cheer at the 2009 Rose Bowl pep rally), NHL playoffs, MLB playoffs, the Indianapolis 500, the Masters, the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and many other professional sports events; played golf at Torrey Pines, Oakmont, Firestone, Riviera Country Club and a number of other top courses.

We’ve been to some pretty amazing places and have been blessed to witness a lot of great live sporting events and concerts over the years. All of them pale in comparison to the people and the relationships. Especially with our family. Playing cards or Rummikub or spending the weekend camping at “BackAchers” in Tidioute, Pennsylvania, and canoeing down the Allegheny River can be just as satisfying as a trip to some exotic location.

What’s still on the bucket list?

Well, our family trip to Italy with my mother was canceled this past May. That’s the top priority as I want my mom and kids to visit the town where my grandparents lived. To satisfy my passion for Civil War and World War II history I’d like to do a Mississippi River Civil War boat tour to Vicksburg, Mississippi and to visit the beaches of Normandy in France.

For my passion for golf I’d like to attend the Ryder Cup, President’s Cup, The Players Tournament, to sit at the 16th hole at the Phoenix Open, to see a British Open and to play golf in Scotland.

I’d like to travel to the remaining five states in the U.S. that I have yet to visit: South Dakota, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. We want to visit as many national parks as we can. Internationally my wife and I want to travel to Sweden, Australia, Vancouver and Jerusalem.

Equally important is to continue to work on making a positive impact on young people’s lives — whether that will be in books I write, presentations I give or classes and camps where I facilitate and instruct. Helping friends’ kids with contacts for jobs and internships and continuing to volunteer for charities and causes in State College also remain on my list.

Yes, life’s been good to us so far. Some great, a lot of good, some disappointments, and much more to still try and to do. None of us knows what the future holds. But the “Great Pause” has given me plenty of time to contemplate what my priorities should be and what bucket list items should move to the top of the list.

In one of my all-time favorite movies, “The Shawshank Redemption,” the lead character Andy Dufresne says, “It comes down to a simple choice really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”

Dufresne also says, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Remember that as we navigate our way through the pandemic.

At 60: so much much still left to do. 


Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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