Noted leadership expert Mike Myatt declares that there no such thing as a self-made man.
As much as one is reluctant to find any disagreement with Mr. Myatt, one wonders: Is this assertion correct?
Mike’s fundamental point is presented with force:
I absolutely reject all the ‘self-made man’ propaganda floating around business circles as patently false. The myth of the self-made person is so ridiculous that it shouldn’t require shattering….While I don’t question for a moment the legendary success of the aforementioned, I do question whether said success was solely a matter of ‘self.’ Behind every success are significant investments and contributions by some if not all of the following people: family, friends, associates, protagonists, antagonists, advisors, teachers, authors, mentors, coaches, and the list could go on.
Surely that’s right. The ‘self-made man’ myth can be corrosive. Any good it may have in terms of encouraging self-reliance may be overridden by its implicit challenge to humility, gratitude—and reality.
Self Made? Or Self Created?
There is another, distinct, equally important reality: Each of us is creating ourselves with decisions we make minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day.
Various acute observers through history—from Abraham Lincoln to Albert Camus to Eleanor Roosevelt—have said that everyone makes their own face after 40.
Whatever talents and gifts and advantages a person is born with are, over time, overtaken by the cumulative results of how he or she chooses to live.
What About You?
Serve to Lead urges that we live with an awareness of the power we have over our fate. No matter how many demands we face, even in our most challenging moments we have a great capacity to decide how we will interpret and respond.
What is the self that you are creating in the course of your daily living?
—are you learning and improving each day, exercising and strengthening your cognitive capacities?
—are you tending to your physical capacities that underlay all other aspects of your life?
—are you challenging yourself, making use of old muscles in new ways (metaphorically as well as physically), and building up underutilized ones?
—do you have a vision of the self you are striving to create?
—are you making progress, measuring progress?
—if not now, when?
It All Comes Back to Relationships
Ultimately, your project of self-creation must be based on an ideal of service. Addressing fundamental questions—beginning with Who Are You Serving?—is a necessary first step.
Relationships—with those you would serve, with those who enable you to serve, with those who inspire you to serve—will rise in importance as you approach your own greatest contribution.
Your greatest accomplishment will be your contribution to others. Your individuality will emerge through immersion in service to others.
How are you creating yourself today? What is your vision of what you can become?
Are you creating your own, unique masterpiece of service?
Self Made? No. Self Created? Yes.