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Labor Day, The Value Of Work & True North

Labor Day Weekend is always one of my favorite weekends of the year. I'll explain why a bit later. But first....

Last night I attended "Freshman Parents orientation" at my son's high school. Dominic will enter his freshman year in high school......ironically the same high school I attended 31+ years ago.

While learning about schedules, lunch locations, extracurricular activities, etc my A-D-D took over, and I started thinking about how I would have conducted the one-hour orientation. Thankfully for the 2k or so kids and their parents, I'm NOT in charge!

But my mind went there nonetheless. I thought of a video I've watched multiple times this year, 23mm views and counting. It's the video I would have played last night for all the parents. Then on the first day of school for the students. And a few times throughout the year.

Admiral McRaven's 2014 University of Texas at Austin Commencement Address. Without a doubt the best commencement address I've listened too. 10 fantastic life lessons through the eyes of a Navy Seal Trainee.

What strikes me about Admiral McRaven's speech?

  • There's an underlying meritocracy throughout his message. It's not your rank. Gender. Sexual Orientation. Religion. It's about getting to the other side of Seal Training:

It forces you to ask yourself some tough questions:

  • Do the little things matter enough to you where the big things have a shot at happening?

  • Can you lead?

  • Can you survive?

  • How big is your heart?

  • Can you play as part of a team?

  • Can you focus on the future long enough to get through the tough times right NOW?

  • Are you willing to go in headfirst?

  • Are you willing to stand up to the sharks?

  • Can you be at your best at the most challenging, pressure-packed moment?

  • Are you going to ring the bell or are you going to press on?

So much of the Admirals views paralleled mine in the world of WORK.


So why is this my favorite holiday?

Like it or not, in a free enterprise economy, the ability to embrace WORK matters. To NOT think of it as a four letter word but a cause that can actually ADD to the quality of your life, vs taking away from it.

I believe "work ADDING to the quality of one's life" is very much an individual CHOICE that if embraced, people will grow. With growth comes many benefits. But when you view WORK as a 4 letter word, the odds of work ADDING to the quality of your life vs taking away from it are slim at best. Way too many hours are spent on the job to be miserable!

If there is a TRUE NORTH direction in my career, this is it. Even in the most challenging, mundane jobs I've had in 30+ years of working, I've found real satisfaction in "a job well done" and giving everything I've had for those around me, and (selfishly) myself. It took me a while to understand this, but once I did, everything started to click.

What tends to happen when people start to embrace a "Work can Matter" mindset?

  • Less stress

  • Work becomes a pickup game. Everybody knows the score. There's a difference in a game when a score is kept vs one that is not.

  • People tend to see their lives, and more importantly their futures as something they actually have control over.

Labor day celebrates WORK. And WORK is an absolute positive catalyst to a great life.

That is why I love LABOR DAY.

True North is a concept that comes down to INDIVIDUAL choice. It's about knowing not just where life has you TODAY, but having a vision, no matter how fuzzy for what the future could hold. Any way you look at it, WORK will play a role in moving towards that future.

I love talking to our clients that call in and discussing what designs catch their eye.

Guess what design is #1?

The Compass Rose.

Our best selling design collection going on 19 years.

There's a number of reasons why this is.

  • Military

  • Nautical

  • The combinations, personalization features.

But I think it's the symbolism of "DIRECTION."


Our Compass Rose Designs all look different, but True North cuts through all of them.

Summer was a first at PAVERART. We had 3 teenagers spend a significant amount of time with us. Ray, Matthew and Dominic. All played different roles. All learned what it was like to work, and in some challenging conditions, contributing to our business in many ways.

A shout-out to Ray.

PACKAGING PAVERART designs is one of those jobs people would rather NOT do. BUT, until the designs are packaged, they don't get shipped and PAVERART does not get paid, kind of important for a sustainable business!

Guess who did a TREMENDOUS (more than 50%) amount of packaging this summer? RAY.

Ray has an open invitation to work at PAVERART throughout the balance of his high school career. Summers. Breaks. A few hours here and there. He's earned that. That's a pretty darn good summer for a rising sophomore.

Good WORK performed by focused people has a tendency to more than just put some $'s in your pocket.

It creates a stable of supporters for LIFE.

As the great Admiral said, if you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

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