The first Monday in September is dedicated in the United States to recognize and celebrate the many contributions of workers of all kinds across our country. Indeed, without our great workforce, we wouldn't have the roads, buildings, bridges, waterways, or any other infrastructure for that matter. Workers not just in America but all over have much to be celebrated for. Farmers for feeding us. Civil engineers for ensuring the roads are designed well and the water flows to our houses. Steel workers ensure buildings can be built tall without risk of falling over. This list could go on and on.
It seems to me that often though we forget what our labor truly is. Our focus is on the guaranteed pay or the benefits or work-life balance. Have many of us took a few minutes to think about what our labor truly is? I invite you to join me as I explore that thought.
When you break it down, labor is work. It can be harder work, swinging heavy tools to break up stubborn rocks or soil. It can be easier physical work like in an office setting with greater mental demands. But work itself is a function of energy applied to move an object over a distance. To move anything over a distance takes time, by definition. Thus, labor is our time and energy applied to moving objects over a distance. To further simplify it, labor is a way of taking the time you have in your life and converting it into a commodity that can be traded.
Yes, your labor is traded for compensation. Anytime you take a job, you are trading your time to the employer for the return of payment in money. The employer isn't able to do everything at once, he doesn't have the time. However, when he has the money, he can trade it for your time. This shows that your time is valuable. In fact, everyone's time is valuable. We all have a limited amount of it on this Earth, so by it being scarce, it has great value.
As you celebrate Labor Day in whatever manner you choose, I encourage you to reflect on the simple principle of the trade of your labor. Perhaps it will prompt a new way of thinking about it.
I also encourage you to always remember that your time is valuable.
Oh, and Happy Labor Day!