After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

For Love of Labor

Most of us get out of bed each Monday through Friday with a song in our hearts because we get to go to work for the next 8-10-12 hours, right?  A holiday like Labor Day (yesterday) comes as an unwelcome interruption to our productivity at the office.

Okay, maybe we’re not that excited about work.  As I have been heard to say to my children, “That’s why they call it work and not play.”

My mother and father were examples of a work ethic that seems as rare these days as the powdered wig.  Both were Irish immigrants who came to America in the mid-1900s. Early on, my dad worked as a miner in Colorado. I was surprised to find this out shortly before he died. When I knew him, he worked for the Illinois Central Railroad in the Commissary department.  

Prior to my birth late in her life, my mother worked in an Armour Foods canning plant. As I grew older, she hired out on nights and weekends as a caterer to wealthy families, mostly on Chicago’s north side.  Maybe I got my entrepreneurial spirit from Mom.

Today we might say my parents had low expectations.  They did not expect intellectual challenges or personal fulfillment from their jobs.  They did not expect positive feedback or performance incentives or massive amounts of vacation.  They simply went to work so they could pay their rent and support themselves and their kids.  They lived frugally.  They never cheated or whined or complained.  They saved money on a very limited income.  They just did it.

All this family nostalgia to make a few points for this Labor Day week:

·         There is no shame in any kind of honest work.

·         In these days when many of our fellow citizens have no work, we who are employed can try to appreciate the simple fact of a paycheck.

·         Many of us are fortunate to have jobs that are personally rewarding.  Everyone should be looking for that kind of job.

And now we can start counting the days until Thanksgiving.


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