In the 1960’s, our nation found itself confronting some of the same deep-rooted racism that brought us to civil war and the brink of destruction a century earlier. Fueled by the strength, perseverance and bravery of civil rights activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the American Civil Rights Movement put an end to legal segregation and discrimination, furthering our nation’s progress in truly living up to its self-appointed status as ‘the land of the free.’
As Americans, it’s our duty and our prerogative to reflect on the truly remarkable work of Dr. King today, as well as the countless others that gave their tireless efforts to make equality a reality, rather than a concept. In doing so, I’ve tried to think about the cause he gave his life for in its simplest form, and apply it to my own life and work.
My work in marketing is a far cry from the Civil Rights Movement. Let’s face it; it’s far less important and reaches a far smaller audience, overall, having much less of an effect on our nation and its people. However, today I found myself asking whether or not my end goals should really be that much different from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s.
Dr. King fought for equality. He fought for people to be treated like people; to be able to sit, stand, shop, eat and live with the same rights their neighbors are allowed. At the very root of these ideals is the desire to make people’s lives better – to make people’s lives easier. When you look at it that way, the work I do for my clients should be done with the same outcomes in mind; to somehow make their lives better, to make the work they do easier. Imagine if we all held ourselves to the standards set by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at work everyday. We’d have to ask ourselves some very specific questions each morning:
- Do I believe in what I’m doing here?
- Is my work benefiting people (besides myself)?
- Is my work making someone’s life better? Easier?
- If not, how can I rethink my product or service?
Now, most of us aren’t staring down the monumental task of bringing equality to a nation each day we prepare for work. However, we should never shy away from holding ourselves to the high standards that those who have done so, and those who do so on a daily basis, have set for us. We could all benefit from asking ourselves the aforementioned questions from time to time and from holding ourselves to such a high standard.
Today is a day to reflect on the accomplishments of a great man and those that fought alongside him for a just cause. This isn’t limited to a mere 30 seconds of thought in between your first and second cup of morning coffee either. Though it may begin there, reflection is not nearly as powerful a tool if we don’t take the time to not only reflect, but also live by and act on our reflections.