I know, this is a day late. Technically anyway. Then again, I think Thanksgiving is more about what's in us, not a particular day. So, I'm sticking to my story!
I'm going to admit, I was going to write this all earlier this week so I could have this up by Thanskgiving day. But you know, life happens. I'll go into some of that in a moment. And for me, this is one of those days I kind of hold sacred.
And then there's Black Friday… or Blackshirt Friday.
For a lot of people, it's a whole different kind of holiday today. Black Friday! Shopping, deals, the unofficial start of Christmas. It's a holiday for me as well, but it's about something else… College football!!! More specifically, Nebraska football.
Now we're not very good any more. Heck, we're fighting to see if we can get as many wins as losses. I don't know that I really care about that, I mean it's tough to see your team have consecutive losing seasons for the first time since you were born, you know? And here's the other thing, I don't even live in Nebraska any more, and probably never will. The summers are hotter, humidity is nasty, and winters are harder.
That's not to say I hate the place. I love my home and will tell you it's a great place to be, even today. There's a lot that I miss about it all. It's where I am and where I grew up. It's the place that shaped me into who I am today. It's where much of my family and friends are who even more shaped me into where I am.
And I think that's why Blackshirt Friday means so much to me. Now, I should explain, Blackshirts is the name that has been given to the Nebraska defense. Anyway, yes, there are way more important things in life than football. This fall more than anything has taught me that even more than ever. But you know how there are those special things that will always be a part of who you are? I mean, I grew up with extended family, all my aunts and uncles and cousins crowded into a tiny room to watch Nebraska and Oklahoma play on Thanksgiving Day. I'm old enough to remember the Game of the Century – you know even a few days ago ESPN rated it the best game ever in College Football. People all around the state, even people who weren't even born yet, still relish the call from Lyle Bremser on KFAB for Johnny Rogers punt return: “Man, woman and child, did that put em in the aisles!”
I don't know if I remember a lot of the action from that game. I remember the excitement. And I remember… family.
And today, I'll crack one open, hope we don't get pummeled too bad… and maybe it's something that connects me a little with back home. A place where that football stadium for a few hours every Saturday becomes the third largest city in the state – where the crowd of that stadium makes up a third of the capital city, a place where even when the team has been 4-8 the last two years has sold out every football game since 1962. We love our football, and today, watching us grind it out against Iowa, just kind of brings me back to a special time.
So what are you thankful for?
You know what I'm thankful for? That life happens.
I mean… things happen and your plans get thrown off. This has been quite a time lately. One of our best friends got a diagnosis of cancer a few weeks ago. He passed away last week, it was that quick. I've spent a lot of the past week sitting with my wife and her dad, who's in his last days in hospice.
Seems odd to be thankful for that, doesn't it? But there's something…. almost magical about the time we've been able to share with him. There's a lot of time where he's in and out, still sometimes very alert and very sharp and asking about all the kids. And there have been a lot of times where, it's like we're reliving memory lane with him. He'll start talking, but he's not here. He's back in different parts of his life. Wednesday night, really it was Thursday morning at 3 AM, I was leaving so I could catch a nap before everyone came to the house for Thanksgiving, and he warned me that police were giving out tickets if you're going over 125. I chuckled at that, but then it dawned on me that in Canada 125 km per hour is like about 75 here and I realized I probably just got to share a bit of his time on his fishing trips with buddies in Canada. I've been with him as he was building homes on Surrey Ridge in Denver and talking about what a nice place it would be to live. I've relived a lot of his memories, and there's such a treasure to that. I've only known him the past 11 years since my wife and I married, it was a second marriage for both of us.
And I'm thankful he'll die soon. And that's not a thing that is meant in any way negative or anything like that. It's an honor to call him my father in law. He's just a good man, you know? And calling him that, it's only scratching the surface. I'm so glad he's been comfortable, the hospice staff have been wonderful at making sure he's not in pain, that he's not miserable. But here very soon he's going to get to go home. That strong man who built so much, who built things but more than that, he built lives. He'll get to be with so much of his family that have gone before… and if you want to talk about a nice place to live?
And I know, this is supposed to be about the business of doing delivery. I promise, I'll get to that. I think this fits into that. This is getting a LOT more personal than I thought I ever would and I apologize if I've made it too much about me. But I hope there's something valuable in this for you all the same…
Yesterday, was a very special time for our family. Now I have to tell you, it's a large gathering. We've got a crazy big family, it puts the Brady bunch to shame. We had 15 people in our little home and I'm almost scared of what it's going to become. Folks, I've got 5 kids from my previous marriage, and my wife has 5. And when we were first married, we had 9 of them still in the house. Now my youngest is about to turn 19, so they're pretty close to all being out of the nest – we have a couple in college and still living here since it's a LOT cheaper than dorms, but I gotta say, we had days we were pushing two FULL grocery carts through the line at the stores to feed them all so now that they're all getting launched, that's a lot to be thankful in itself.
But there's something wonderful that we can have them all together still. They were all together, and my daughter's boyfriend, my son's wife, and what was incredibly special was being able to have my first Thanskgiving with my grandson… THAT is a gift, you know? But there was a lot of joy, a lot of laughter. I wondered if we'd end up doing that, to be honest. I wondered about my wife's kids, because their grandfather, I mean I know a lot of people are close to their grandparents but he's been SUCH a part of their lives and shaping who they are.
But I think that maybe you know how I've been saying that football is so important to me because of how family was such a part of it? I think that's a lot of what it was for them, and continuing to have this celebration. It's family. And it's incredible to spend that time… but something even more incredible about it this year. My wife tends to spearhead Thanksgiving but she's spent every day this past week along with her sister at her dad's side. But the kids took it on. And it was incredible and it was beautiful.
And even as hard as it's been for everyone… there was incredible giving of thanks.
So what does this all have to do with delivery work and being an independent contractor or anything like that?
There's a couple of things that come out of this that I want to leave with you. I think it has some relevance for you, I really hope it does.
Thankfulness centers us on our why.
You know, you get a lot of people that, they went out yesterday and drove, they hustled, they found a way to earn some money. For some maybe it was a sacrifice to do so. They're out there working away. And there's some that are like me who just say no, this is one of those days I'm not touching, that I wasn't even going to work on some of the pre-production stuff that goes with getting this podcast out on Fridays.
And here's the thing, neither one is better. Neither one is the RIGHT one.
And I think it comes down both ways to your why. Why are you doing this in the first place. It's the thing behind what we are doing that is more important than what we are doing. And the why… that's something really deep.
Sometimes we don't know our why yet. Sometimes we exist. Sometimes we betray our why.
But when you really know your why, when you really know what really matters the most to you, THAT's when whatever you do can be so powerful. And at that point it doesn't mater if the what is a 9 to 5 job or doing gig worth or none of the above or all of the above…. because your why drives you. Your why motivates you. Your why can be the secret to success in a far greater way than strategy or techniques. It can mean so much more to you than anything that I've ever written in this blog or said on my podcasts. Knowing your why is so powerful.
If you've never focused on your why… I really encourage you. Dig into your why. I've had a time, maybe we all have, where I felt I was just existing more than anything, going through the motions. And I tell you, once you really hone in on understanding your why…. that adds so much more power to your life.
And here's the other thing – I wrote an article last week about how the landscape is changing with delivery and the gig economy, and wondering how long it might last. I think we will see some big changes. But folks… when you have your why, when you are centered on it, that's the most important tool you have to help you navigate those changes. Whether those changes that happen, whatever they are, are something that fit into what you want to do or whether it's time to move on, when you know your why it helps you decide, and it helps you find the what's next.
Thankfulness helps us take control.
I send out a weekly newsletter every Monday. This week's newsletter had the same title as this article: Is it possible to be thankful? I received an email that replied to that question. It was very simple and to the point: “No it's not. This whole gig economy is dreadful and manipulative.”
And you know something? I can't say she was wrong. She is dead on about the gig economy. I really do believe that it IS dreadful and manipulative. And exploitative. And probably a lot of other words too.
I think there's a part of it where the gig economy is a good one. It's the stuff I celebrate, the freedom and independence. It's the opportunity to dip your toe into the entrepreneurial world but with a structure that doesn't have some of the downfalls. You can do this and find out it doesn't work without losing thousands in investments, things like that.
But the gig economy as we know it… I have to say that the one who sent me the email hit the nail on the head. What I see is these entrepreneurs building these huge companies in a labor intensive market using loopholes and taking advantage of that desire for independence to exploit people. They frame it like a job opportunity but then oh by the way you're a business person and we have no responsibility to you. And everything she said about the gig economy is right.
But here's the thing about Thanksgiving. Being thankful isn't a Polyanna kind of thing. It's not being ignorant of the negative and it's not whitewashing it. There's a lot of crap out there. Whether it's companies wanting you to think like employees but not wanting to pay up for that privelege, or watching two good, strong, vibrant men reduced to sheer dependency and weakened so much in a matter of weeks…. there's a lot of stuff that really sucks about life.
And that's where I respectfully have to disagree with the first part of the email. I mean, I completely understand, I completely agree with what she said about the gig economy. But I think it's still possible to be thankful.
And in fact… it's really important to.
Because here's the thing: Thankfulness just kind of shoves it in the face of all the crap that is going on.
Thankfulness is taking control. Thankfulness is saying yeah, you can come at me with whatever you have, but you can't control how I feel or how I look at things, and you
CAN NOT STOP ME FROM THRIVING.
Being thankful is taking on the power yourself.
And these gig companies, they can do all the crap that they do. But we still have the power to say, I can do this on my own terms. And if the opportunities that are available no longer outweigh the negatives we have the power to find something that does.
And when you've centered on your why, and when you've decided to take control, when you've decided to focus on your gratitude… you'll find those opportunities.
Because in the end, thanksgiving, gratitude…. that's a choice that you're making where you're choosing to let the good things in life shape who you are, where you are choosing not to give power to those negatives.
Thanksgiving is very empowering.
I'm just going to wrap up with something in scripture. And I understand you all may have different beliefs and this isn't about trying to push one set over another, but it's more the example that is in this particular concept. I think the lesson is universal here. The apostle Paul had just finished saying not to be anxious about anything.
Well, what happens when you tell someone something like don't be anxious? I don't know about you but my mind goes right away to, what would I have to be anxious about? Oh, crap…. Let me put it this way: I'm a big guy. I have more than a few pounds to lose. And I love to ride my bike…. so I'm really challenging you right now, don't think about a 6'5 300 pound guy wearing bike shorts. And whatever you do, don't think about being the person stuck riding behind that 6'5 300 pound guy in bike shorts…
And I'm really, really sorry for that image that may have just been stuck in your head. But…. maybe it helped paint the picture of what happens when you just lead with ‘don't focus on the negative.' Whether it's me telling you not to dwell on the crap that these companies do, or it's Paul telling you not to be anxious, the thing is when you tell someone not to think about something, it becomes natural for us to think about it. That's just human nature.
But what he says next… that's the part where you can take control over it. It's a practical thing that… instead of trying to approach it with the ‘don't' it's about taking control by focusing on what you CAN do… “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
Take control, my friends. Yeah, all the stuff that's opposite of what it just talked about, that's out there. But it doesn't have to control us. Thankfulness, gratitude, seeing the things that are excellent or praiseworthy… that's something you can choose to do.
Take control, and be thankful.