A Thanksgiving present

I hadn’t ever thought about receiving (or giving) a gift for Thanksgiving, so receiving one was both a surprise and a joy.

Autumn leaves

Dave and I spend a fair bit of our time in the United States these days. We have attended meetings, trade shows and conferences here for many years and love many places and people. One of our favorite times of the year to be in the United States is Thanksgiving week – the fourth Thursday of November – and we are here again this year.

We have Thanksgiving in Canada, but it comes much earlier in the year – the second Monday of October. So we gladly celebrate the same day twice in successive months.

This year for the first time we received a Thanksgiving present. Never having received one before, I wasn’t expecting it. If I had thought about it, I am not sure what I would have thought appropriate for Thanksgiving. The two things that I most closely associate with a U.S. Thanksgiving are food and football, and short of a pumpkin pie or a turkey, nothing comes to mind for a possible present.

What Dave and I received was an expression of friendship from our good friend, Tony Mullen. He was commenting to me about my recent article on worrying and told us that what he was doing with his students in class this week bore some relationship to my comments.

Tony sent us Rudyard Kipling’s poem If. Of course, we had studied this and other Kipling poems in school, but it has been a long time since I had looked at and really thought about what it meant to me. As it turns out, there could have been no more perfect gift than the gift of this poem. I have read it a few times now and while simple in words, it is complex in thought and emotion. Like any treasured item, it’s enjoyed the most when it is shared. Thanks, Tony. Happy Thanksgiving, all.



by Rudyard Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

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Nancy Knowlton
Nancy Knowlton is co-founder and CEO of Nureva Inc. and previously the co-founder and CEO of SMART Technologies. She writes about education, entrepreneurship, business management, technology, innovation and other passions.