Search form


Always Strive to Be a Better You

Whos Your
Joey Amalfitano?

Have you ever had one of those days? You know the kind: You wake up late, you burn the toast, the cat vomited on the rug and you find out by stepping in it, you leave the house just barely behind schedule but then have to stop for gas, you get to school just in time to remember you had a meeting with a parent that started 15 minutes ago, and it doesn't get much better after that.

We all experience those days, and we all fight with ourselves to figure out how to combat them. Short of inventing a time machine and going back 24 hours so you can try the entire thing again, what do you do? Answer this forced-choice question by choosing one:

a. Wallow in freakish misery;
b. Go home, pour yourself a warm (to the throat) beverage, and take a nap; or
c. Seek out your Joey Amalfitano.


Good question. Were you confused about option c? Who's Joey Amalfitano? And more important, who's your Joey Amalfitano? For help, let's consult with Hall of Fame baseball player Willie Mays, who recounts a special story in his autobiography, Say Hey: The Autobiography of Willie Mays.

In 1961, Mr. Mays was having a terrific season for the San Francisco Giants but was mired in a terrible slump. One day, after eating some bad ribs and getting very ill the night before, he came to the ballpark sick, wretched, and unable to play.

Enter friend and teammate Joey Amalfitano, a career .244 hitter with just one career home run entering the 1961 season. He was a little feller, with a charm far exceeding his muscle. Before the game, Joey grinned and lent big Mr. Mays his little bat and suggested he try it, to overcome the sickness and end the slump. Mr. Mays reluctantly obliged.

After unexpectedly drilling one ball after another over the fence in batting practice, Mr. Mays excitedly begged the manager to keep him in the lineup. That game, he slugged a record-tying four home runs, en route to a 40-homer season. Without the impromptu inspiration from his diminutive teammate, Mr. Mays may have just sat out that game!


Sometimes leadership and inspiration come from places we don't expect. When Mr. Mays was down and (almost) out, he could have gone back to bed, or he could have sat dejectedly in the dugout. But he ran into Joey Amalfitano.

Maybe it was blind luck. Maybe it was fortune. Maybe he subconsciously sought out Joey as a trusted source of optimism and good humor. Who knows? Whatever the impetus or cause may have been, the effect was the same: Joey Amalfitano was the cure for all that ailed Mr. Mays.

Think of your own choices in similar situations. Whereas you might have selected a or b from the quiz above, what would have been the result?

Choose a: You're likely to bring down everyone who interacts with you, talks to you, or even sees you from a distance. That day becomes a plague, which you spread with your own toxic attitude.

Choose b: This is likely to extend the length of the cruddy day, because when you wake up, you have a headache, you've missed a meal, and you realize that when you get back to work you have at least two days of work to make up. The oblivion gets darker.

Choice c is the logical response. Find what works for you to get your groove on. Maybe it's a friend. Maybe it's a song. Maybe it's a task that immerses you. Maybe it's a snack -- a healthful snack, to be sure, like broccoli or V-8 or apple-cinnamon rice cakes. Whatever it is, take some time to engage in some self-reflection and find out: Who's your Joey Amalfitano?

The next time you have one of those days, seek out your choice c. Force your attitude to get the better of your frustration. The options are endless, if you take the time and put forth the effort. If all else fails, remember the valuable lesson Johnny Cash's shoeshine boy taught us oh those years ago: Get rhythm when you get the blues.

Always strive to be a better you,

Article by Pete Hall
Education World®
Copyright © 2007 Education World