For many people, November 28, 2002 will be a time of misgiving instead of thanksgiving. “Misgiving is a disturbed feeling of fear, doubt, or apprehension.” (1) Fear of terrorism, possibility of war in Iraq, doubts about the economy, and apprehension about your business make it more difficult than usual to festively celebrate Thanksgiving this year.
Like us, the participants of the very first Thanksgiving had misgivings. The 52 English colonists were apprehensive about their new life, health and safety in Plymouth. And the 90 Wampanoag natives were in fear of losing their land and their way of life to the new people with guns. But unknown to most of us, the Pilgrims and Indians provided us a 1621 recipe for converting our 2002 misgivings into a thanksgiving.
Over a period of ten months the Indians and Pilgrims laid aside their misgivings with two acts of giving. The Indians were first to act, offering seeds and farming knowledge to the Pilgrims. “On March 16, 1621, the English had a surprise visit from Samoset, a leader from the Abenaki people to the north. Samoset brought Tisquantum (often called Squanto).” (2)Squanto lived with the English for six months, giving them his knowledge how to grow corn and use fish to fertilize the fields.
Before knowing whether the plantings would produce a harvest, the Pilgrims had a desire to give the Indians and their leader Massasoit gifts. “In early summer, William Bradford sent Edward Winslow and Stephen Hopkins to Pokanoket, the Wampanoag village where Massasoit lived. They brought gifts to Massasoit.” And “as was customary, they also paid him honor by shooting their muskets in a salute.” (2)
For the Wampanoag natives that joined the English colonists in the autumn of 1621 to share food and fellowship, giving thanks was not a once a year event. “Since long before the arrival of Europeans, the Wampanoag had celebrated festivals of thanks that took place at particular times of the year, including the “Strawberry Thanksgiving” and the “Green Corn Thanksgiving.” (2)
How can you and I enjoy a more frequent bountiful harvest? Like the Indians and Pilgrims of 1621, our first activity must be one of giving. I’ve read three new books that provide new insights on giving:
- The One Minute Millionaireby Mark Hansen and Robert Allen.
“Properly adding a million dollars to your net worth is a primary objective of this book. Yet to obtain this you must first give. This is one of the Enlightened Millionaire’s paradoxes. On one level this makes no logical sense. How can someone give before someone gets? This is not possible using ordinary logic. Yet on the meta level, that is exactly what happens.” (3)
Becoming a millionaire is not instinctive. The process is not logical. “Enlightened Millionaires donate the first 10% of all their incomes to the charities and/or churches in their communities. This giving multiplies prosperity a thousand fold. It worked for John D. Rockefeller, who was a meticulous tither. Recently it worked for Oprah, who has donated at least 10% of her annual income to charity, most of it anonymously, throughout her adult life.” (3)Logic tells us that giving shrinks (100% – 10% = 90%) our wealth. In reality, giving multiplies our wealth (100% X 10% = 1,000%).
To increase wealth, the authors recommend we give of our time, give our approval, give a smile, give advice, give compliments, give encouragement, give of your talent, and give attention. If you’re frustrated with your business results in 2002, don’t give employees a piece of your mind. Instead, give attention to seeds that can produce a financial harvest in 2003… Activity Based Management (ABM/ABC) training, books or software toolkit. Implementing ABM/ABC or improving an existing system will convert your 2002 misgivings into 2003 thanksgiving.
- 365 Ways to Give Thanksby Brenda Shoshanna
“When we start to give thanks continually, these gifts expand. The more we give them to others, the more we receive. The more we give thanks, the more joyous our life becomes. ” (4) If you’re stumped for giving ideas, this is a great book. Here are a few ideas from Brenda’s book:
- Put a piece of candy in the mailbox for the postman.
- Give an extra big tip to a waiter, waitress or cab driver.
- Put money in an expired parking meter.
- Offer to teach a continuing education class.
- Give movie tickets to someone who’s stuck in a rut.
- Give God daily time of prayer and Bible study.
- Organize a block party.
- Give a book that you enjoyed to a friend.
- Establish a charity box in your home or office for spare change.
- Share your faith. Tell others there is a higher purpose in life.
While not in Brenda’s book, here are a few of my business giving ideas:
- If you have an ABC system, share your experiences with other businesses.
- Teach a new entrepreneur or small business owner how to build their business on well-defined processes and less on people.
- Share stewardship principles with a non-believer.
- Give your boss a copy of a business book you’ve benefited from this year. Three that I particularly enjoyed in 2002 were Good to Great, The Spirituality of Successand Activity-based Cost Management: An Executive’s Guide.
- Offer a professor some time off by teaching one of their classes.
- Don’t hold your time or talent. Give it to someone who needs it.
- The Generosity Factorby Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy
The coauthor of The One Minute Manager and founder of Chick-Fil-A restaurants have teamed to write a short, but powerful business fiction book on the importance of giving. “There is a route to genuine and enduring satisfaction, but it flies in the face of this greedy, self-obsessed culture. It’s called generosity, and it involves freely giving our four most valuable resources – our time, talents, treasure, and touch – and receiving unimaginable riches in return.” (5)
The authors practice what they teach. Ken Blanchard and his wife have established a unique corporate giving program that enables each employee to research and designate specific charities to be the recipient of a significant portion of company profits. S. Truett Cathy gives his employees every Sunday off. Even though Sunday is a big day of revenue for fast food restaurants, Chick-Fil-A is still a financial success. Employee turnover is lowest in the industry while profits are some of the highest. Everyone is blessed by their giving.
Give a little, get a little. Give a lot, get a lot. Remember this: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (6)
The Pilgrims and Wampanoag natives had reason to gripe. But instead, they chose to give. And as a result, they reaped a Thanksgiving harvest in 1621 that we still celebrate in 2002. When someone sees a person help another, it has a ripple effect. Lay aside your misgivings. Give your family, friends, and business some of your time, talents and treasure. Do something this year to make Thanksgiving and the New Year one of great personal and professional bounty.
(1) Webster’s Dictionary, Riverside Publishing, 1984
(2) 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving, Catherine O’Neill Grace & Margeret M. Bruchac, National Geographic Society, 2001
(3) The One Minute Millionaire, Mark Hansen & Robert Allen, Harmony Books, 2002
(4) 365 Ways to Give Thanks, Brenda Shoshanna, Birch Lane Press, 1999
(5) TheGenerosity Factor, Ken Blanchard & S. Truett Cathy, Zondervan, 2002
(6) 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 The Maxwell Leadership Bible, Thomas Nelson, 2002