When I think of Labor Day, I remember as a young girl that it was the end of summer, the end of my carefree life. The beginning of work as a full-time student for another year was about to begin. When I asked friends about their plans for Labor Day, they shared a schedule filled with weekend parties, cookouts, and festivals. A great time to relax and enjoy a day off.
My friends and I couldn’t recall the origin of the Labor Day Holiday, only that it had something to do with workers’ rights. How about you? Do you know how Labor Day became a national holiday? I decided to look it up and learned that there were two key events that happened leading up to the creation of the Labor Day holiday.
One took place on September 5, 1882 in a New York City park. There was a giant “labor festival” featuring of a parade of unions and accompanying picnic. That gathering attracted over 10,000 marchers, according to Linda Stinson, a former Department of Labor historian. In lighthearted activities, more in the spirit of what goes on today, people drank beer, danced and set off fireworks. The organizer’s purpose, however, was to listen to speeches in support of workers' rights.
The other event was a troubling one. In a town outside Chicago, On May 11, 1894, employees of the railway sleeping car designer George Pullman went on strike when their wages didn't go up after the economy tanked. The American Railway Union, with more than 150,000 members at the time led by famous socialist Eugene Debs, demonstrated solidarity and refused to operate Pullman train cars. This disrupted mail delivery and prompted President Grover Cleveland to send in federal troops to break up the strike. Arson and rioting broke out, and it escalated into what's now considered one of the bloodiest episodes in American labor history.
A National Labor Day was declared in months.
I noticed in the 1894 story above that each stakeholder expressed a tremendous amount of fear as a motivation for their actions:
- Workers were fearful because they didn’t get a raise.
- The company was fearful because they believed that they couldn’t make as much money to pay workers and keep operations running in a “tanked economy”.
- The government representatives were fearful due to mail service being interrupted.
When all parties involved in a conflict are scared, lashing out at others is not uncommon. When we have a bad day or are fearful, don’t we sometimes treat the people we love poorly? Knowing this, we can do a few things to prevent chaos and pain from happening in the future:
- Remain calm and gather information
When you’re fearful or don’t have enough information about a situation, take the time to calm yourself down and gather information that you need to make a logical and reasonable assessment. Find and speak with people who know more than you do about the circumstances surrounding the situation. Get as much detail as possible so that you can come up with a reasonable plan of action. While doing so, continue to stay focused daily on a positive outcome that you desire.
- Don’t assume anything
In our desire to know “why” things happen and “what” is going to be done, we can sometimes make up stories about possibilities and project those onto others.Don’t do that – if you want to know the truth, find out the real answers from people that know. Governments, companies, and other groups have people in their organizations to speak with and they often post information on their websites. Look up speeches from company and government leaders on the internet to hear their own words. As the old saying goes, “put yourself in the other person’s shoes” and gain understanding about their motives. You’ll then be in a better position to come up with a creative solution that benefits all.
- Consult with a trusted advisor before taking action
Once you’ve gathered information and determined possible action to take, speak with a few people who you value and trust as advisors. Share what you’ve learned and what your plan of action will be. Answer their questions and listen to their advice.They may point out something that you missed in your review. Since your advisors aren’t emotionally caught up in the situation, they may be able to see things in a different light. Consider their advice as you formulate ideas about the best actions to take.
After doing the three steps above, use your daily meeting with your CSO to write down, read out loud, and imagine a perfect outcome for you. For example, if you’d like satisfying work where you use your talents to benefit others and are paid well, describe what your life would be like if you were already living that way. See clearly in your mind’s eye, the outcome that you want. If the job that you have now isn’t in alignment with your desires, you will see the truth of the matter and be led to the job that is perfect and right for you.
I hope that the celebration of Labor Day becomes a delightful tradition for you to be grateful for the perfect work that you have as you share your wonderful talents with the world. May you be blessed, happy, healthy and prospered now and always. You can learn more success principles in my book and at www.maymccarthy.com.