According to the US Department of Labor's website, we set aside today to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers. While there seems to be some dispute about which American worker founded Labor Day, it is equally clear that whoever did so worked for someone else, and was a part of unionized labor.
If you don't know anything about unionized labor in America, look it up. Today, rightly or wrongly, labor unions are going the way of the dinosaurs. Some say it's good, some say it's bad. I say it's just the truth. On this Labor Day, like every one I've celebrated since I started my own business business, I honor all types of labor — union and non-union — but I especially honor those of you who are laboring as entrepreneurs in these choppy economic waters. Despite the challenges, I hope these 4 concrete steps to enjoying a new kind of Labor Day inspire you to action and renewed commitment to making your labor count.
- Accept the truth. The truth is that times are tough. The other truth is that times could be tougher. You could have no Internet connection. You could have no computer, no chair to sit in, and no skill or product you can use to provide for yourself and your family. Yes, times are tough, but they are not so tough that you can't work within them to produce results. Accept the harsh reality, but accept no more than that. Don't let your head make the situation worse than it actually is.
- Work within that truth. Tough times call for tough responses. Now more than ever, be crystal clear about what you are selling and to whom you are selling it. Make sure that everything you do that pertains to your business fits squarely into a framework that helps you sell specific things to specific people. Do not deviate or expand outside those boundaries without a specific plan and the resources (meaning time, money and your own energy) to make it work. Of course there will be risk — there always is when it comes to entrepreneurship. But let the risk be calculated and well thought out. This is no time for taking hopeful chances.
- Carve your piece of success first. Like the airline attendant says, secure your air mask first, then help another person with theirs. I have seen so many small business owners concerned about helping others before they have helped themselves, and then wondering why they never achieve their goals. It may sound selfish, but Step 1 is about embracing the truth. And the truth is that you cannot pass along to others what you don't first have yourself.
- Support others next, as they support you. You become most like the people you spend most of your time with. Identify characteristics of people you want to be like, and then find ways to connect with them wherever they are. Whether it's taking them to lunch, commenting on their blogs, or sending them a holiday card, there are many ways to reach out and develop relationships with people who can support you as you also support them.
Happy (New Kind of) Labor Day!
Question: What do you think of this flow of things? What do you most thankful for on this Labor Day 2011? Answer in the comments below or at the Indie FaceBook Page.