Good Work: Celebrating Second Mile People

 Evil is laziness…love is the antithesis of laziness.   -M. Scott Peck

Labor Day is a reminder that all work has dignity and that all workers deserve dignity.  Everyone in this country has the right to an education, to self-expression, and the freedom to contribute both to their personal well-being.  More than a conclusion to summer vacations, Labor Day should remind us that people deserve room to strive, room to fail, room to grow, and room to make a contribution.  With about 1 in 5 adults unemployed or underemployed (about twice that for black urban males), there are a lot of American’s unable to make the contribution they’d like to make right now.
Labor Day is an opportunity to remember the jobs that we seldom consider.  Jobs that are a step back from the customer are not a glamorous place to be: paying the bills, filing the forms, mowing the lawn, delivering the mail, or buying the goods.  All of these jobs provide important service to others and often go unnoticed.  But even if overlooked by customers, back office jobs can provide the reward of a job well done even when customers do not know what it took to get the job done.  People find pride in their work if it is connected to important outcomes or part of a meaningful cause.  Supporting other people puts love into action and often to the test.  Love goes the extra mile for anyone that asks and finds reward in service rendered.
Remember the last phone operator that seemed to bend over backward to meet your needs or the retail clerk that searched the country for those size nine Nikes?  Remember the last waiter that provided you with exceptional service?  Remember the payroll clerk that stayed late to fix a problem with your check, or the secretary that drove across town with an important contract that you forgot to put in your briefcase, or the teacher that called to tell you what a great student your child was?  There are second mile employees putting love to work in every workplace.  They go quietly about their business all around us providing service that builds people up and gives them what they need and expect.  Labor Day is a great time to consider all of the second mile people in your life; they deserve your thanks and recognition for their contribution.
It’s also time to get America back to work with policies that support small business creation, infrastructure, and education.  

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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