The Season of Thanks
Full Contact Project Management
We enter into November, the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving, fall football, Black Friday, pre-Christmas, post-election, you name it. Politically, it may be a time of jubilation or condolences for you — depending!
We have made our choices — or may still be making them — to do things or not. Shakespeare’s Hamlet once asked the question, “To be, or not to be…?” These days, isn’t it more like, “To do, or not to do…”? So many things to do, so much stuff, so many choices. Opportunities. Challenges. Obligations. Yikes!
My previous column was in September, and 9/11 was heavy on my mind, as well as the minds of many Americans, including one of the mentors in my life, Coach Kenneth. What a horrific, sobering time in our history that was! Yet, here we still are. In the shadow of 9/11, we are STILL here! Back then, many wondered if that would even be the case.
A couple weeks ago, Coach Kenneth gathered together our team and reminded us that we all have to make a choice in the upcoming election. He reminded us of the words of that “ancient philosopher,” Bob Dylan, who also gave us the instruction, “You’ve got to choose somebody!”
Coach Kenneth would not let us get down or lose heart. He said, “America is still a country blessed by God.” And you know, by and large we remain a joyful and thankful people. In spite of things, in spite of it all.
I used to think that having joy meant I was happy — so I had missed the point. Fortunately, Coach Kenneth concluded his pep talk by saying, “Joy is not related to circumstances, but a deep-down belief that all is well.”
Embellishing his point, like all great coaches do, he laid this down for our team: “Joy thrives in tough times, in any circumstance. It comes through a confidence, knowing that we actually can still be joyful, even when not happy.”
Now, in my opinion, that’s a real writer-downer!
Not being a prognosticator, I don’t know what lies directly ahead of us. I certainly have no clue what Americans and their families will be thinking as they gather together this month and the next — not only for our Thanksgiving celebrations, but all of the holidays — as well as their concerns extending into the new year.
I don’t know if American citizens, this political season, will be voting for principles or for stuff. I think I’m voting for principles, but I recognize that mine may not be the same as yours. That’s too bad, but it’s also kind of neat, when you think about it! We certainly have diverse points of view and, so far, almost all views have always been tolerated here. But you gotta ask why, right?
I might say that this reason is also a writer-downer, but the fact is that it has already been written down, and is the essence of why we will get through these tough times, and with a sense of joy. Here’s the reason:
In our country, we believe — we hold — that certain things are self-evident, such as the notions that all men and women are created equal, and that they have been given by God certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Because of this, we have a type of government that is still the envy of the world. Yes, really. In spite of all you may hear — and much of that bad — people still want to come here, invest here, work here, be here. And their families do, as well.
Our laws are dependent upon our Constitution, and that is based on eternal concepts — that “inalienable rights” thing. You see, this is the first country in the history of the world that was founded on the idea that “the law is king.”
Now that should just knock your socks off! Why? Because previously the governing of countries was based on the notion that “the king is law.” See the difference?
Admittedly, our government leaders don’t always do a fabulous job. Leaders are human, and humans are flawed. Democracies and dictatorships both have leaders, but you know what? I’d rather throw in my lot with a flawed leader of a democracy than a flawed leader of a dictatorship!
We may be a mess from time to time, but we are still the best mess around! If you ever doubt that, then play this simple game with me. First you’ve got to agree that you will answer the question truthfully. Ready? Here it is.
Imagine yourself as the leader of a small country somewhere in the world, and you have some kind of natural disaster hit you. Your phones are down, and you have just two minutes left on your cell phone battery. You can call any country in the world for help, but only one, and then your battery will be dead and you’ll be out of hope. Make your call.
Now for your truthful answer. Which country did you call? That’s right, the good ol’ USA! Even with all of its many faults, it’s still the one.
Back to the present day. It’s November, the month of thanksgiving. And here’s what you’re going to see: America will have made it through yet another election. Considering all of the negative press around the world about our country and our process of selecting leaders, I do know enough to make one accurate prognostication, after all: one leader will be succeeding another.
But unlike other countries, this will all be done without bloodletting. Tears for some? Of course! Happiness for others? Certainly! Traces of blood? Not so much!
How can it be? There will be no coup, no revolution coming, no mob rule. Simply the act of individual American citizens going to the ballot box and voting their conscience. And I say that confidently. People in other countries marvel at this.
Remember what Coach Kenneth said, that joy comes through a confidence, even when we’re not necessarily happy. But happiness can’t steal joy, because joy, when it’s real, is based upon truths — eternal truths.
We can elect crooks or jerks. We can vote for stuff or vote for principles. Our Constitution allows us to do that to ourselves. And for that I’m so very thankful and, yes, joyful. Even if I’m crying when I read this in print!
So I invite you this Thanksgiving season, to do exactly that: give thanks. Count your many blessings. We live in a land of opportunity. We have relative abundance and safety, and will continue to experience true joy that can exist even in the midst of chaos — because we have confidence in the foundations upon which it all rests.
About the Author
Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at FullContactTeam@gmail.com.