It’s Labor Day here in the United States — a holiday where we celebrate the dignity and importance of work and careers. This celebration became an official holiday in 1894 with the support of President Grover Cleveland; but, it has a fascinating history explored in today’s Washington Post that you might want to read about…
As I’m reflecting this morning on the career I’ve enjoyed and labored at over the past several decades, I realize the cornerstone of all my modest success is based upon one aspect: the student group that changed my life.
I have often written about the role that FFA has played in my career. I honestly believe it is the greatest student organization on the planet — and the ongoing success of its former leaders displays this in a consistent manner. When people ask me what is so special about the organization, I usually don’t know where to start — however, let me select just three aspects…all of which have value in learning and growth for every professional:
- FFA members run FFA meetings…even the national convention with over 20,000 in the audience! Attend an FFA meeting — anywhere from a local chapter to the largest annual gathering in the world of students with a purpose — and you’ll seldom see adults on the stage. By the time I was 21, I had chaired sessions with tens of thousands of people in the audience, and met with global leaders including the President of the United States and Chairman of GM. No adult ever told me what to say from the stage or to the President. I thought that was standard operating procedure then — and realize now how extraordinary that experience was.
- Here’s the important point: You can’t build a career by constantly being in the backseat. The only way you can grow your labor is to grow yourself.
- Taking more responsibility is the only way to grow your ability to succeed when you have more responsibility. Yet, sadly, so many want to just “do their job,” as if minimum performance would ever provide maximum returns. Notice: I was a student and had no obligation whatsoever to become a part of this organization or take advantage of what was being offered. It took a lot of time (I even took a leave of absence from college for two years) and this was a lot of work. However, because of the responsibility — not merely the opportunity — that FFA provided, it inspired me to do whatever it would take to assume more responsiblity in my career in the future.
What additional professional responsibility could inspire you?
(Certainly, I hope being a good parent, for example, or better spouse could inspire you — however, today is Labor Day, so let’s keep it focused upon your job and your career for now…)
Perhaps it’s having the highest rated store or dealership for customer service in your industry…maybe it’s becoming the top sales professional in your region…the big question is: what additional responsibility would inspire you?
If you can’t think of a responsiblity that would inspire you — it’s going to be tough for you to be inspired.
It is, perhaps, a bit ironic that we celebrate our labor and careers on a day where we don’t have to go to work at all!
Perhaps it’s just as paradoxical that we see people on all sides from across the nation demanding their rights — yet, few desire their responsibilities. It is somewhat incongruous that so many seek more opportunity — yet do not see the relationship that sacrifice and purpose have in inspiring them to take advantage of the responsibilities that will cause more opportunities to be presented.
On this Labor Day, my hope is that you’ll examine and determine someplace in your career where you can take more responsibility that will inspire you to a higher level of success.