Was George Bailey’s Life so Wonderful?

Life milestones tend to make us reflect on the lives we’re living. Am I doing the things I’m supposed to be doing? Am I making a difference in some significant way? What is my purpose? Will I leave a legacy?

I’ve struggled with these big picture questions in the months since my 50th birthday. It wasn’t that significant a milestone as birthdays go, but it was combined with several significant events around the same time. I moved; I merged; I started a side business; my mother was in a major accident; life was coming at me full speed.

One of the thoughts I found myself having often during the last year or so was that I am playing the role of George Bailey in a world that is filling with Henry Potters. And I wonder if the life is so wonderful after all. Now before you all start calling Susie to see if I’ve become suicidal, hear me out.

When I started my computer consulting company in Indianapolis 22 years ago, every single one of my clients was a great person to work with. They were living relatively balanced lives and they saw to it that their staffs lived relatively balanced lives as well. Today, while I still enjoy the company of nearly all of my clients, I’m not finding many of them living the balanced life of the 90s. They aren’t stressing that kind of balance to their staffs either. The whole thing sort of snuck up on us. And it is those of us in the IT industry who are primarily to blame.

That’s right. Our attempts to do good by making it easier to work from anywhere turned into a mandate to work from everywhere, and to do it all the time. We don’t have time off any more. People take their laptops to the beach. They lament the slow Internet speed on the cruise ship. They sneak peaks at their phones in the middle of conversations. We’ve created an environment in which none of us wants to live but we don’t seem to know how to stop.

That’s why I’m having these George Bailey feelings. I know everyone seems to feel the same way but I don’t see enough people saying it.


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