Don’t you wish instead of celebrating “Labor Day” we were celebrating “Passion Day?”

By asking that question I am in no way belittling the intrinsic meaning of Labor Day.  I think the way the US Department of Labor describes Labor Day as a yearly national tribute to:

the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.. to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker

is actually quite inspiring and evokes strong feelings of patriotism. Reading the story of the parade of unions of 1882 that turned September 5th into a “day of the people” gave me goose bumps of happiness. It’s the word “labor” that gets me.

To labor is to…

When I think of the word “labor” I think of toiling in pain and difficulty.  I associate the word with feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness in poor working conditions.  I believe that’s how many workers were feeling 130 years ago as the movement was in its infancy.

At the same time, I also associate the word “labor” with birth; labor gives way to the birth of children, ideas, and new beginnings.  My wish for all American workers is that in the future we will be able to give birth to new ideas and new beginnings not from a place of unhappiness, but from a pursuit of true passion.

I believe leaders play a role in this, and that it doesn’t have to be just a wish.

I believe that leaders have the power – and responsibility – to bring out the passion in their workers by:

  • Creating and communicating a vision and purpose for their company that will inspire their workers.
  • Connecting each worker’s individual role with the vision and purpose so that they understand, and can feel proud of, the personal impact they make each and every day.  This way, even if they’re not passionate about the “job” (perhaps a repetitive role on a factory line) they can be passionate about their role in helping the company create a life-saving or life-enhancing product, as an example.
  • Encouraging their workers to ignite their passion by empowering them to share ideas for improvement and innovation, and to take an active role in the company’s success.

We all have a powerful inner light that ignites the passion within us.  My wish for American workers is a future where we all labor with passion, creating a healthier, more beautiful, and richly prosperous world.

Happy Passion Day, America!