Our Labor

There has been so much national discourse this week as former “Cosby Show” actor Geoffrey Owens responded to headlines after a photo of him working at a supermarket chain went viral. The conversation about job shaming has me reflecting on my attitudes about honest work and labor.

I remember the first time I saw my father’s occupation listed on a document. The word used to describe his work was that of laborer. I recall the visceral reaction I had to the word. Even as a young girl, the world was telling me certain occupations were more revered and relevant than other jobs. We were sharecroppers—planting cotton, digging sweet potatoes and working the land. To my young mind and head that lacked wisdom, I reasoned that being listed as a laborer was most likely toward the bottom of what was important.

But as I grew older and watched my father, mother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and the people in my small town, work and toil with dignity and perseverance, I realized the power of the word laborer and the necessity of labor. Because when we work—do an honest day’s effort with our crop, career, gifts and talents—there is no higher calling.

I am a huge proponent of visualization, a can-do attitude, and motivation when it comes to our dreams. But just going around imaging a better life or saying positive things without the work—well, honestly, does not work. It doesn’t happen magically.

In its wisdom, nature illustrates that we cannot plant a seed today and enjoy the harvest tomorrow. From soil preparation, weeding, watering, fertilizing, timing, the right amount of sun, and patience—steps have to be taken. We have to put in the effort. Start the tractor. Grab the garden tool. Part the soil and plant the seed or vine. Wait for the first bloom or evidence of growth. Even with no guarantees, we plant, trust and expect a harvest. The same process holds true manifesting what we want.

Working on our dreams and the true desires of our hearts is critical. Our work matters—not only to us, but to the world. Let us push through moments of questioning and second-guessing. With renewed focus and energy, let us press on and believe we will see the fruits of our efforts. It will take labor.

Monica Pierre is an Emmy Award winning journalist, keynote speaker, and author of the motivational books, Found My Soul in a Sweet Potato Patch: Living a Life of Victory, and No Permanent Scars: It’s Never Too Late to Have the Life You Really Want.