Labor day is a weird holiday. Growing up, I thought it was all about mattress sales. It’s a holiday that doesn’t have the immediacy of Memorial Day or the 4th of July because its origins have become less relevant to us now. It’s hard to remember that, when the holiday first began in the mid-1880s, employees were still fighting for the work life that we take for granted today. In fact, I grew up 2 blocks from the site of a strike where people were killed while marching for an 8-hour work day. It kinda puts your boss asking you to come in for a few hours on Saturday in perspective.
People are often surprised to find that I didn’t get my degree in business or finance, but rather in history. They wonder how history relates to a career in personal and professional development. Besides having some good conversational topics at dinner parties, my study of history has provided a huge benefit: it helps me see that the current world is fluid and ever-changing. We can’t assume that world is static: it’s a result of what’s happened in the past and our constant re-interpretations of that past.
Understanding that the “way the world is” isn’t a given, opens up the possibility for something different. That’s the first step in creating change. It also reminds us that we have to be diligent to protect ourselves from stagnation, because it’s too easy to fall into a rut and regress. So when you are buying your mattress today (or just sleeping in because you don’t have to go to work), remember that we are creating the history of future generations. What kind of history will that be?