Wise words from Martin Luther King Jr. resonate with today’s pursuit of positive and meaningful work.
Posted in , Aug 31, 2017
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
This quote from Martin Luther King Jr. strikes me as a rich source of reflection as we head into Labor Day weekend. Because between the barbecues and the last sips of summer, shouldn’t we connect with the meaning and purpose we derive from the labors of our lives, orienting ourselves toward a positive relationship with the difference our work makes to ourselves, others and the world?
In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, "Thought Conditioners". Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader
Dr. King’s words bring up three questions I will be asking myself this weekend:
1. What Am I Doing to Uplift Humanity?
There’s no disputing that Dr. King’s life work made a positive impact on the world around him, and it is still resonating through the decades to connect with humanity’s biggest challenges. You don’t have to be a minister, an activist or a political figure to uplift your life and community, though. Your job, whatever it might be, makes the world a better place when you do it with mindful and positive energy.
2. How Do I Find Dignity in My Labor?
Dr. King was fond of the phrase “all labor has dignity.” He used it when he addressed striking sanitation workers in Memphis just weeks before his assassination, reminding them that without someone to collect our garbage, our society would be ill and unsafe. If each and every job has inherent value, we can all take pride in the difference we are able to make. The dictionary definition of “dignity” is, “The state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.” Turn that idea onto your daily work and remember—you are worthy.
3. How Can I Best Pursue Excellence?
The author Hunter S. Thompson once said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” In other words, if you have taken on a job, it’s important to accomplish it to a high standard for success. Whatever your work life is—whether it’s a paid job or the labor of caring for a home or family—setting standards for yourself is key to gleaning purpose and meaning from everyday actions. Don’t dial up the pressure, though—excellence is a journey, and the simple act of pursuing it betters our lives at every step along the way.