I have always enjoyed Thanksgiving. It is a day to fight with family you never see but twice a year, indulge in the sin of gluttony, and freeze your can off as you pull hamstrings in a game of backyard football. And then of course, there is the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Just as Christmas is not all about stockings, trees, and an overweight old guy in a red suit, Thanksgiving is not all about turkey, , stuffing, and that creepy pretzel Jell-O stuff. Though we celebrate the coming together of Indian and Pilgrim, the true story of Thanksgiving goes much deeper and has great significance for the modern day appraiser.
Despite what you might have learned in your public-school upbringing, the true story of Thanksgiving is more complex than finding a new land, learning how to grow corn, and celebrating with dancing, corn-beer, and gigantic turkey legs. When the Pilgrims first came to this land it was barren and untamed. The original governmental and economic system set up by the voyagers resembled something similar to what you might see in present-day Cuba, North Korea, or China. A large reason why the Pilgrims had such a difficult time the first few years and why so many died was the flawed system of rule they established… with mostly good intentions.
The original governing-economic system set up under Capt. Bradford was that of equality in all things. All must work, all must harvest and all share equally in the spoils. Unfortunately, human nature has not changed in the thousands of years we have inhabited this planet. Some work harder than others and others work less than some. In the end, many sat back and watched the little red hen plant, sow, and reap all by herself. When the smell of freshly baked bread filled the air however, all expected to eat equally. Unfortunately, life is not that kind. The ‘Law of the Harvest’ does not put itself on hold just because you have big buckles on your shoes and one on your hat as well.
Thankfully, wiser heads prevailed and the leadership learned that equal distribution (though sounding compassionate), was not the best system after all. A new system of ‘if you are able, and you want to eat… you have to work’ was soon implemented and the large gathering of people around the primitive banquet table was the result.
When I first decided to become an appraiser, I went to my father-in-law for advice. He had spent his life without a boss and so I sought his wisdom. In true son-in-law fashion, I quickly forgot 99.9% of what he said that day, but one thing sticks out. Said he, “A self-employed man wakes up every morning unemployed.” In other words, as a real estate appraiser I must find a way every day to put food on the table, clothe my children’s backs, and keep the roof over their heads. With the ups and downs in the market, that is not always an easy task. Yet every Thanksgiving holiday, I sit down at the banquet table and thank God for the blessings He has given me throughout the year. Every year I’ve been able to pay my mortgage. My children have never gone hungry (well, unless they were naughty). We have always had vehicles to transport us. Sure, there have been times when things were tight, but we have always had clothes on our backs and have been watched over and blessed in so many ways.
This Thanksgiving, as you sit down at the table across from those despicable people that you call family and partake of cranberry sauce and yams (who eats that stuff any other time of the year?), take a few moments to reflect upon the blessings in your own life. I am convinced that God loves all people but, as an entrepreneur and a business owner, sometimes I’m able to see his blessings a little bit more poignantly.
Happy Thanksgiving and go creates value!
Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he has found most of his success as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.