On our recent family vacation, I had the occasion to listen to an interview with Nely Galán, a media mogul and author of the recently published book, Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant and Rich In Every Way.
Although I liked a lot of what Galán did say, I couldn’t help but cringe every time the words self made were mentioned.
“Why do you keep doing that?” asked my husband.
“Doing what?” I replied.
“Making that face!” he responded.
“I hadn’t realized I was,” I said with a chuckle. “It’s just I don’t like the term ‘self made.’ I think it leaves out and dishonors the crucial element of what makes someone successful and impactful.”
“And what is that?” my husband asked, making a face of his own.
I recognized this immediately. It was the face that told me he was aware I was about to launch into one of my rants about the problem with the unconscious choice of language and the negative effects it has on one’s perspective.
I laughed. “I won’t share unless you want to hear it.” I mean, come on, I’m not impervious to the potential needs of others not to hear what I have to say!
“No, no, really, it’s okay. I want to know,” he replied with a smile and wink.
“The village,” I said simply.
“The what? Not sure I follow.”
“I don’t believe there is such a thing as self made,” I began. “It takes a consortium of people to support a person so that they can become successful. I don’t think we should confuse great accomplishment gained by taking personal responsibility, being consistent and making good choices with self made. I mean, someone needs to offer that ‘first break.’ There are the teachers, mentors, door openers and supportive players of all kinds. I’m not even going to get into the biology of it by mentioning how each of us gets here to begin with.”
“Hmmm . . . ” my husband said, looking thoughtful. “I see your point.”
Okay, I love . . . . when he sees my point!
And I know what you are thinking, but that’s not it!
I love it not because he has reflected that what I said was right. It’s his support for what I’ve said that I love. For me, support is value received.
Credence is only available when what is shared has the support of and holds value for others. A leader isn’t a leader without followers.
Without perceived collective value, what someone has to offer ceases to hold meaning beyond the person’s own individual needs.
If the importance of being self-made is to have the ability to offer something of value to others, then the measure for success goes beyond simply serving the needs of the self.
If the making of oneself, then, is ultimately about others, then can we reflect on the fact that it is also because of others?
I believe what most people are referring to with they talk about success is not the inherent success of I am, therefore I have value, but one’s impact on the collective.
To become successful, one has to create relevance in the world. Although, I believe, personally, the core of this is not so much about what a person does as it is about who they are, if a person is able to add value to the lives of others (s)he becomes necessary and sought after . . . of service, if you will.
Now, to my point, it takes those who need that person and what (s)he offers for the individual to grow to a place of value.
This inherent factor dictates that in order to become successful, it takes others to do so.
Once again, I call “foul!” on self made!
(Maybe I should have become lawyer . . . )
In her interview, Nely Galán defines “Self Made” as being abundant in all things.
What provides the actual manifestations of this abundance?
We might say, experiences, opportunities, options and even luck.
Now, here’s the next question, who provides the experiences, opportunities and options?
The answer . . . other people do.
We cannot become “made” without the support, actions and choices of others to value what we have to offer.
I believe the reason I am so opposed to the term self made is it negates the very thing we are here to do and honor as humans.
Our need to connect with one another and find value in the collaborative experience.
When we say “I am self made,” it sounds hubristic and self-serving to me. It leaves out the reason why success has value. For me, success is about service to the world, even if it’s only the immediate world of close company.
So, here’s my final thought.
We were each made to do our thing. When we can honor and support this in one another, everyone wins.
In my humble opinion, individual success and each of our abilities to be “made” are, always and every time, a collective effort.