You are not ‘self made’. No one is. Reflections on the need to admit, to acknowledge, and, above all, to thank.

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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

I am, amongst other things, a professional speaker of many years experience. Such people are trained to read audiences; see what works… and run with it… while eschewing and abandoning any line that doesn’t arouse the audience and fails to seize their hearts and minds.

The other day I was delivering a lecture on the need, the absolute and unshakable necessity, to work as part of a team on the ‘net; to stop believing that you can succeed alone, all by yourself.

In an instant, I felt the connection with my audience strengthen; it was just as if I had grabbed the hand of my beloved and felt, in prompt but unmistakable way, the slightest pressure in return; slight perhaps but there, there! It is an unforgettable moment, highly charged with rapture, bliss, and possibilities such is the deep- seated power of connection. I now had that power at my command….

The noxious phrase: “self-made”.

It is time to take aim at one of the most inaccurate phrases in the English language, the one that allows (usually men) to preen and brag about the fact that are “self-made.”

When they say that you know you’re in for a reverie composed of the achievements, great and small, of this fellow traveler, fueled by pomposity, egotism, brash self-congratulation. One needs to be well fortified indeed to abide it… for the cascade is likely to be long, fulsome, and right from the start, excessive.

“Devotions upon Emergent Occasions”, John Donne, 1624.

John Donne was an English poet preparing, as he wrote this work, to die. With eternity in mind, he was engaged in a sober, fully engaging business; nothing was more important than to get it right. Out of this frame of mind came these words of profound insight:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

The pressing task now, before the bell tolls.

One day, ready or not, the bell will toll for thee. Before that occurs you need a moment like John Donne’s, a moment of pure insight into who you are, where you are, and how you got to be that way and here.

This is a process that calls for honesty, sincerity, integrity and the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. For now is the time to see your life as a process aided and facilitated every step of the way by people who gave of themselves so that you might advance.

Too often you have been forgetful of these people; yet they are the engines who have vitally assisted in your development and prosperity.

John Dunne is right. You are not the continent; you are but a part of the continent. You have surely worked hard and long for your success…. but you have not been the sole reason for your success. You are not “self-made”; you are “team made”, a part, but never the whole reason for advancement.

Now, therefore, resolve to thank, thank often, thank lavishly, the greater your prosperity, the more to thank. They have all made you who you are.

Thank your parents.

It is easy, in fact the easiest of all, to take your parents for granted. I have myself been remiss here and am relieved to acknowledge it and commence correction.

Now that I am far, far older than my parents were when I was conceived, I am clear on what they did for me… and what I owe them. They were not only young and in love when I arrived; they had undertaken on my behalf a responsibility of unparalleled magnitude and life-changing, life challenging importance. My very life and well being depended on them getting it right from the very first thing they did… as well as everything thereafter.

Such people, and the claims are even greater if you had but one parent or were raised by people other than your parents, such people I say desire and must have more than a card on Mother’s or Father’s Day. They deserve and must have more than a bouquet belatedly thought of and hastily delivered. They need to know that you remember them, what they did… they need to be reassured, whatever your age, that you remember…. and are grateful; that you will never forget them as the tolling of their bell comes ever closer…

Today is the day for your parents.

Thank your teachers, too

We are all the product of the teachers who gave of themselves, not just for a pay check either, to mold, craft, transform and enhance us… day after day. We have, too often, taken them and their generosity of action and spirit for granted… and we must not do so.

First, understand and acknowledge there was nothing in what they did for us which justifies us taking them for granted. It must be our first task to expunge that dereliction … to see what they did as a blessing, daily given, good people working on the never-ending work in progress who was you. You are the result of dozens of people and their continual attention.

First, remember them by name. You are older now… you are able to see what they did as a great responsibility, taken in seriousness, given beyond expectations… a true gift.

Remember them… and, whenever possible, contact the special teachers who went far beyond whatever could have been expected for you… for you. Send them the most memorable letter any teacher can receive: the one that thanks them, that remembers them, that renews their pride in their profession and what they did, its value and its importance. Remember the many others, too.

Remember, too, the counselors… the clergy… the coaches. They, too, gave generously… and deserve your remembrance and acknowledgement. It is too easy to forget… and overlook. But they deserve much more than that from you. Will you take the necessary action, the generous action and connect with them, yet again, and deliver the pure bliss of gratitude? Take this action with joy in your heart, for it is the right thing to do.

Start today. Rejoice at the happiness you will bring the people who have helped make you… and the contentment you will give yourself and deserve, for such sentiments come from the heart, the very best and most important thing created by all, given by you.

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About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. As well as a speaker and consultant, Dr. Lant is the author of 18-best selling books.

Republished with author’s permission by Graham Lee – The Income Zone

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