The Myth of Being “Self-Made”


As I was flying to New York, I thought of Donald Trump and his wealth and arrogance. Many may wonder at his ability to become so successful, but if you read his first book, “The Art of the Deal,” he shares that his first big realestate deal was financed by a $6 million loan. But not from a bank: it was from his father who was a contractor who made his fortune in part from building government housing. In essence, “The Donald” got his start thanks to our taxpayer dollars.

So when “The Donald” brags about his successes, I grin and think that if my father had lent me $6 million to start a business, I am pretty sure I could have leveraged that into a healthy income as well. Most of us, however, do not have the benefit of wealthy parents who can share their economic fire with us and ignite our commercial potential.

No matter who we are, none of us, including The Donald, can make the the claim that we are self-made. For at least the first 18 years of our lives, other people and institutions influenced our choices and direction. Who we have become has been significantly shaped by others who have shared their fire with us in a positive way. We paid nothing for the generosity and nurturing that these people and places gifted us. The hospitals in which we were born, the medical staff who brought us safely into the world, our parents who fed and clothed us, the religious institutions that formed our spiritual beliefs, the schools that stimulated our intellect. All of these acts paid for by someone else for our benefit. Why did others give us these gifts? Because these gifts were given to them and they are simply passing them on.

No one succeeds without the help of others. We all have a debt of gratitude which we will never be able to repay to those who have helped make us who we are. Therefore, it is imperative that we share our fire with others and re-gift the good we have been given. Only then will our debt of gratitude begin to be paid, and we will fully and truly experience the profound meaning of helping others create a better life and a more civil society.

Marc Hardy, PhD, New York City, June 11, 2013

Location:New York

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