Here in the US, this day serves as the unofficial end of summer. Where school buses and shorter days wait just around the corner.
Labor Day was first introduced to recognize the hard work – the actual labor – of the industrial revolution. Days were long. Work was hard.
It was laborious.
Seth Godin puts it well:
In the old days, we could measure how much grain someone harvested or how many pieces of steel he made. Hard work meant more work.
Now, we have confused the act of laboring in the field or factory with “hard work”. Often, work made harder through our own internal motivators.
He goes on to say:
It’s hard work to make difficult emotional decisions, such as quitting a job and setting out on your own. It’s hard work to invent a new system, service, or process that’s remarkable. It’s hard work to tell your boss that he’s being intellectually and emotionally lazy. It’s easier to stand by and watch the company fade into oblivion. It’s hard work to tell senior management to abandon something that it has been doing for a long time in favor of a new and apparently risky alternative. It’s hard work to make good decisions with less than all of the data.
Yes, that is hard work.
It is even harder when we allow ourselves to be motivated by ambition. Or when we show up simply out of obligation. Or when we allow our role in the workplace to be defined by greed, validation, or jealousy.
Perhaps hardest when driven by regret.
Fortunately, you can ease your burden by exchanging these negative drivers with healthy alternatives:
When you know your role, and accept that you are at the table for a reason, you owe it to yourself and those around you to provide your input. Own your assignment.
In challenging times, when it is risky or scary, it is easy to lose sight of the mission. Keeping your eye on the prize may not be complex, but it is really hard.
Your personal values are the filter by which you measure, react, and move. When your values are in check, decisions will be black and white, as if you have already decided which side of the issue to vote.
It is much easier to stand up to coworkers or the board when framed in love and the well-being of the company.
Today, exchange your unnecessary hard work for a lighter load; one where you are free to look for opportunities to excel, move forward, and grow.
Happy Labor Day.