“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

I spent the first 90 minutes of my work-day at the “Breakfast with Champions” event hosted by the Bobby Dodd Institute (BDI). It’s only in the last six months that I have become familiar with BDI. I was drawn to the mission. BDI connects people with disabilities and disadvantages to jobs and the security and purpose that work brings (http://www.bobbydodd.org/). There are two common unifying principles at work here: security and purpose.

At the end of the day, I am a firm believer in the importance of purpose in our lives. What we do matters. It gives us a reason to get up each morning. It gives us the energy to contribute. It makes us strive to do our best.

What I love is that this same lesson applies whether I’m talking to a C-level executive about his or her purpose, or to someone who is working for minimum wage. To have responsibility, to be expected to show up, to accomplish something, to be responsible for a result, all plays into our sense of self-worth. And, self-worth is so incredibly important. When we don’t have self-worth, we lose our own identity and sense of purpose.

BDI ‘s mission is to take a segment of our population – those who are considered to be “difficult to employ” – because of disabilities and disadvantages, including people with developmental and/or physical disabilities, as well as people who have disabilities due to chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, mental health issues or substance abuse, and provide opportunities for gainful employment.

Sure, receiving a paycheck is nice, but the idea of holding down a job, and having responsibility is even nicer. Stephen Hawking said, “Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 4.11.47 PM

The “Breakfast with Champions” event this morning was awesome. We celebrated the achievements of several people who are 100% committed to their jobs. They don’t complain. They don’t want more limelight. They don’t need more attention, bigger titles, or a larger team to manage. One woman, Priscilla, who was recognized this morning brought tears to my eyes as she told her story about not knowing if she would ever be able to work again. She made me laugh when she said, “Most people say, ‘Happy Friday;’ not me, I say ‘Happy Monday’ because I love coming back to work each week.”

Wow! What a positive attitude and a role model to follow! Having worked in Human Resources and Leadership Development for over 20 years, this morning served as a good reminder of a basic tenet of our human philosophy: work gives us meaning and purpose. It’s why as parents it is so important to give our children “responsibility” early on. It’s why as teens our first jobs are so important in molding us. It’s why as adults it is our responsibility to treat all employees as important and not diminish the manner or style in which anyone chooses to contribute and make a living.

Like I said, today served as that reminder for me. What are you doing to ensure that you are helping to provide meaning and purpose to everyone in your life? Your company? Your circle?