It is Labor Day as I write this, and I started to wonder, “Is the ‘work’ of today ‘labor?'”
After all, Labor Day (in the US) was created during the height of the industrial revolution as a “workingmen’s holiday” during a time of massive unrest, riots, and strikes.
For me, Labor Day conjures up black and white photos of union protests, laborers building skyscrapers, and women and children on production lines – hardly what we experience today.
When I look up the word “labor” – the noun is defined as “practical work, esp. work that involves physical effort” and the verb is defined as “to do hard, physical work.” So labor is about hard work….and I’ve always thought it was, well, laborious work (and “laborious” is defined as “needing a lot of time and effort”).
So is the work of today (versus the days of the industrial revolution) physical, hard work that needs a lot of time and effort?
While we have automated many hard labor tasks, there are still “laborers” out there who build and maintain our infrastructure. Without them, we would not be able to grow and expand our economy and afford a lifestyle that rivals most countries in the world. Labor Day is time to celebrate and applaud their work and accomplishments.
While I don’t consider myself a “laborer” in the truest sense of the work, the work I do has a physical and mental component that requires a tremendous amount of time and effort as well. I contribute to the workplace in meaningful ways, helping executives and their teams have more productive meetings and make better decisions.
And isn’t that the point of Labor Day? Beyond representing the end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season, it’s a time to reflect on how you contribute to the prosperity and well-being of this country. That your work provides value and meaning – and is appreciated by others.
Now that’s something worth celebrating!
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 27 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action. Her latest book, 123 Ways to Add Pizazz to a Panel Discussion was published in January 2021.