This is a discouraging time for people who work. It’s discouraging for anyone who works, but it is an especially dismal time for entrepreneurs and other business owners.
It is not that people aren’t working, and working hard. It is not that there aren’t companies succeeding, and succeeding well. It’s that underneath it all, there is this sense that something has gone very wrong and the people in positions to fix it aren’t interested in fixing it.
It isn’t a vague sort of feeling; it’s palatable. It’s a fear you can taste, a real sense of doom.
I’m not going to get into the reasons that people feel that way; others are filling that role.
What I want to do here is remind us all – to remember together – why our work matters.
If you look at the history of mankind, you see two types of situations: Prosperity and poverty. They are polar opposites. I have seen – and experienced – both, firsthand.
Everyone wants to be prosperous; no one wants to be poor. So I am going to focus here on the realities of prosperity.
When societies are prosperous, there is a sense of promise. There is a belief that work leads to reward, that an honest day of work will result in financial gain, which can be used however we want to improve our lives and secure our family’s future.
This promise is kept by us and by all those around us, with whom we interact every day. This promise is kept the tiny, individual decisions made and actions taken by billions of people around the planet. It is the symphony of work; an interweaving of people working in harmony; people helping people, people showing their appreciation for that help via payment.
The tiny individual decisions and actions are what make it all work.
We decide to come to work. We decide to do a good job. We decide to be courteous and helpful. We strive to make a good product or provide a useful service. We decide to learn as much as we can and to keep learning, because we know that if we don’t, we will not be as helpful nor as prosperous; we know that we will put our future at risk.
This is especially true for us entrepreneurs, who will only have customers as long as we are doing a lot of things right. There is no end to the amount of excellence that we must strive to attain. It is a constant challenge to be our best at all times.
Every person who decides to work is contributing to the greater good. Prosperous societies are those where people work. The more people working, the more prosperous the society is. More money is flowing and more opportunities exist. For everyone – not just a chosen few.
It is the opposite of the old Soviet joke, which summed up the alternative: “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.”
Prosperous people are able to feed their families, improve their surroundings, and contribute to causes. Their prosperity creates an environment that is safer for the less fortunate among us, including children, old folks, and the disabled. It presents opportunities for those who want to improve their own lot in life, to become prosperous themselves, because people who are prosperous hire less-prosperous people to help them.
As you contribute to this community of work, you help raise the standard of living for everyone. You make it easier for someone else to do something or get a problem solved. To meet a need. To improve their life somehow. Your decision to keep improving what you do contributes to their decision to improve some aspect of their lives. It is a never-ending cycle of improvement, which raises the tide for all the boats.
This is why your work matters.
Thank you for working.