This year’s observation of Labor Day has to be the most poignant one in American History.
Here’s to you, working harder than ever behind the scenes trying to figure out how to re-imagine your business for these trying times, and trying to figure out how to bring your business back to the level it was at before the pandemic. You’re putting in untold hours of extra effort. You’re losing untold hours of sleep. But I have a feeling that in doing so you’ve learned a lot about your business and about yourself. You’ve revealed what really works for you and what never was really working in the first place.
Here’s to you, working overtime to fill in for gaps in the staff where you work. These are the times that make a staff a true team. A collective with one agenda. Here’s to you whose hours have been cut. Working fewer hours than you did before, you may be pushing yourself to the limit to make yourself indispensable to your employer. The year 2020 has brought us to one of those “when the going gets tough” moments in history and people everywhere have stepped up and shown their employers and themselves what they are made of.
Here’s to you, unwillingly out of work. There is this old-timey way of thinking that is still around which asserts that a hard-earned living equals a certain morality, and gives a person value. While a hard-earned living is honorable in and of itself, it does not assign any inherent value to the earner. And even though, to paraphrase Thomas Paine, “these are the times that try men’s and women’s souls” it is certainly not a moral issue. We saw that more clearly than ever when the U.S. federal unemployment rate jumped from 3.5% to about 15% this spring. While I won’t debate the wisdom of state-wide lock downs vs. the push to re-open, we saw how adamantly so many people fought to get back to work rather than collect an unemployment check.
Here’s to you, putting in extra hours – your home time, your free time, your family time – thinking about what you will do if things change at work. Not because you want to think that way, but because you have to be prepared. This has been your chance, without anyone really blaming you at all for it, to see what other possibilities there are for you. Maybe you never really had a Plan B or a Plan C, etc., but thanks to Covid-19 now you do. Maybe it’s made you re-evaluate what you want out of life. Maybe it’s helped you to re-invent yourself.
Madness can be a wellspring of opportunity when you’re looking for it. I hope you’ve looked and found it. We’re all doing the best we can. Over the course of 2020 we’ve had to live in the moment even while preparing for the bleakest of possibilities. It’s been a weird paradox of a year. We know we are meant to live in the present. If you think about it, you’ll likely agree that you are at your sanest when you are not re-living the past or playing out endless future scenarios in your mind.
I started this post talking about those who were working harder than ever while not really doing business at the level they’d like to be. We’d all like to be “working hard while hardly working” but in a different way. Busy, busy, busy, but never feeling like we are “at work..” We all want a productive, prosperous, full life. It’s my wish for all of you this Labor Day.