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In reference to a person’s professional life, it is one of the biggest lies that a person can tell themselves. You hear it everywhere; from athletes, to musicians, to businessmen and women.

“I did this all by myself. Everything that I have now is because of ME.”

Be we know this to be incorrect…

I will say now that I have nothing but the utmost respect for those of us who have experienced the hardships associated with coming into adulthood, and continuously adapted to everything that life throws at them without the traditional support of parents or loved ones. We often confuse emotional independence with being self-made though those are two very different things. Those of us who have the fortitude to overcome the coming-of-age challenges on their own are strong individuals indeed, and deserve every bit of praise that they receive for making it. But, again, that isn’t my true topic of discussion.

I am referring to those who have experienced the challenging, but amazing climb towards the many successes, opportunities, and experiences that life has to offer but accredit only themselves with having received such great things. I can understand wanting to say something like that to an extent because it is the individual doing the work, suffering, and making the necessary sacrifices, but what many seem to forget is the fact that none of it would have happened if another individual hadn’t given them the opportunity to prove their worth.

Now, before anyone gets offended and assumes that I’m calling them out, level with me for a second.

Let’s say, hypothetically, you started a business from scratch. Had it not been for that one investor that decided to take you seriously, your business would not be thriving. For that debut album to have gone platinum, you would’ve needed an audience who believed in you first. For you to become a sponsored athlete, you have to pay your dues and prove your worth time and time again until that apparel or supplementation company sees that you are capable. For your book to become a bestseller, you will have either needed the commitment and dedication to self-publish or the grit and drive associated with finding an agent that is willing to take a risk on you.

Nothing is done alone. Nothing. And if you don’t stop with the self-made B.S., you’re going to crush any opportunity for forward motion.*

Human beings cannot function without one another. Much like the components of an atom or a cell, every single person plays a role in whom we become. Maybe yours appears to be greater than others, or maybe you deny the fact that you understand that even a word of encouragement is considered to be support. What you believe cannot alter a universal truth, and that truth simply is being “self-made” from a literal standpoint is an impossibility.

What do you believe in? If you are a believer in a higher power, are you ever truly alone? You are a physical manifestation of your belief system. The god the you pray to is also the god that speaks through you as you follow your passions. The universe that surrounds us all is the same universe that you are comprised of. You, never alone, and claiming that you and only you is the reason for your successes is a blatant declaration of arrogance. Even the richest man who makes such claims knows that he is lying through his teeth.

If you want a more realistic comparison, think about Dr. Martin Luther King. He started with nothing. He had to grind and to continue to push his agenda. He had to spend many nights alone in a hotel room or in his study simply trying to figure out what his next step will be. But he also had a network of devoted and loyal associates. He gained the favor and love of millions of individuals who shared his ideals. He was able to alter the perception of an entire culture with his voice, and yet never accredited a word of it to his own doing. He understood that he was simply a tool through which a greater purpose would be served. He was both a leader of and a servant to ‘The People’. His accomplishments are insurmountable, but humility still played a daily role in his life. Can you imagine how things might be different had he sat there on national television claiming every bit of success in the south as his own? Just take a moment to think about that.

My goal here is not to discourage those of you who are currently making that climb and who feel as if you are alone in your journey because I’m right there with you. I know the hustle, and I know that it gets lonely. But I also know that believing that it is me, and only me who can bring my dreams to life inhibits my own growth. So instead I am thankful for every little interaction, every random mentor, every encouraging word (no matter how few), and every single skeptic or hater that ever has come through my experience. Without them, none of** who I am today would be true. And because of this mentality, I open myself up to grow continuously.

What we think of ourselves is what will manifest in the form of opportunities or lessons, and thinking that you’re going to do this all alone removes any chance of advancement because you are openly projecting the fact that you don’t want the support and assistance required to get to the next level. What you must understand is that it is the contrary belief that will take you to where you want to be. It is admitting that you cannot do it all alone that will lead to the many doors of opportunity opening up for you. It is the gratitude for every person and experience in your life that has contributed to you becoming who you are today that will allow for even more prosperity as you move up. Saying only you made you sounds nice and is great for boosting your confidence, but what good is it outside of the false bragging rights? What is it good for besides coddling an adult who never got over their abandonment as a child? What is it beyond a way for insecure men and women to feel better about themselves? Why is it is perceived as a weakness to ride with a solid team? What is it with our “trust no one” culture that has formed in us young people especially? Why is it emasculating to ask for help? Why are we as a society so against receiving help? So many of us are our own worst enemy because of our own stubborn attitudes when it comes to this topic. Every single one of us should be grateful for every positive and negative experience that led to our becoming who we are today, because we would be nothing without them having happened in exactly the way that they happened.

Something I found that really helps me when I feel those moments of loneliness and of animosity is to go back through the entirety of my life and to look at every major turning point. Every milestone. Every “ah-ha” moment. As I envision these things, I think about the people who were around me at the time. I look at who was with and against me, and I analyze how each and every one of them played a role in the inception of me as I currently am. Then I try to envision how my life would be now had they all never been a part of my experience at that particular time and from my reflection comes unrelenting gratitude.

It is a simple fact that we could not possibly know how strong, talented, passionate, or dedicated we are without having interacted with an individual or situation that required us to be our absolute best. It can be frustrating to think about at times, and I know that it isn’t as cool to say that you made it here because of who and what you experienced as you climbed. But that simple alteration in how you think about yourself and your success is what differentiates between sabotaging oneself and attaining the limitless success and happiness that you desire.

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