A Few Words About Independence
A personal message from Paul Giobbi and Zumasys
It was 7:00 AM on Fathers’ Day and I found myself at the bottom of the Noble Canyon Trail. Located in the Cleveland National Forest, this is 10 miles of challenging single-track that the Forest Service calls “one of the best rides in Southern California.” It’s a route I had been on dozens of times before—either bombing down on my bike with friends or hiking up with my wife. But things change. I’ve got back problems now, my kids are in college, and I am still trying to get back into my pre-pandemic rhythm.
Which is why, on this day, I was standing alone at the base of the trailhead – just me and my thoughts. It was purely business between me and the trail. With no one to talk to, I was there simply to get some fresh air and exercise. And, I’ll be honest. I was not stoked. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that I was a little bummed.
I was feeling the absence of doing this with my family and friends and I was feeling my age. My disappointment was a dark cloud on an otherwise bright sunny southern California day.
But somewhere around the lower rock gardens, I felt something shift. And when I ended the hike – nearly 3 hours later – I was full of gratitude and on fire for my life.
Why? It was a gorgeous day. I was lucky enough to be in nature and back visiting Pine Valley where I knew there was a hammock waiting for me at the in-laws, swaying gently between two massive, 100-year-old pine trees.
Noble Canyon Trail, outside San Diego
The Fourth of July holiday is not usually a time of introspection for me.
But this year, the concept of freedom and choice have hit harder than years before.
And I know I am not alone.
We’ve been locked away for the last 18 months, and now we’re all getting reacquainted with our independence and figuring out exactly what we are going to do with it. For many—including me—that freedom may not look like what we were expecting. But it is freedom, nonetheless. And it’s liberating!
When Bert Jacobs, the CEO of Life Is Good, spoke at our customer conference a few years ago, he emphasized the difference between the phrases, “I get to” and “I have to.” He explained, “When you make this easy language shift to – ‘I get to’ – your entire attitude improves. It reminds us how lucky we are to be alive. How fortunate that we are healthy enough to take on responsibilities in the first place.”
Bert Jacobs, CEO of Life is Good
We “get to” do things like exercise. Or just to be around family and friends on a day like today. We’re here and we have this moment, and we have the freedom to do anything we want! On top of that—we are free to choose how we feel about it.
But don’t just take my word for it. According to Fortune Magazine’s recent brief on US workers, “After months of lockdown, millions are ready to test the job market, and the pandemic has drastically recalibrated their expectations.” In fact, somewhere between 26%-40% of employed workers plan to look for a new job as the pandemic eases. That’s freedom. That’s choice. That’s “I get to”.
Hiking up Noble Canyon, my mindset changed from,
“I have to do this alone,” to, “I can’t believe I get to be here right now.”
Sometimes gratitude comes easy. Sometimes circumstances, like a global pandemic, make it harder to come by. It’s been a bizarre year and a half, but I am beyond thankful for my team and our loyal customers at Zumasys – and I will always remember the privilege of getting to work with such amazing people.
Wherever you are and whomever you’re with on this July 4th, I encourage you to take a moment to think about what you “get to” do today. To me, that’s what freedom is all about.