The Path: The Ridiculous Myth of Being "Self-Made"

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                                     Image by Travis Levius.  All Rights Reserved.

It’s commonplace for societies to accept vocabulary that seem stat quo; hearing the term “self-made millionaire” or “self-made entrepreneur” for most of my life, then, caused no adverse or dynamic reactions.   It wasn’t until I heard it mentioned recently, being on this journey of mines, that it seriously rubbed me the wrong way, especially as I’m on the same path that some may identify as a “self-made success story.”

Whatever you do- please- do NOT call me, or anyone else, “self-made.”

Being “self-made,” at least what it sounds like to me, means that your success and riches and big breaks came from you and only you- no help from anyone else.  Sure, you may have devised the genius idea that’s now in demand by the millions, or became a catalyst to an impactful movement around the globe, but didn’t you have a team beside you to make these things possible?  On a fundamental level, didn’t people encourage you at the beginning stages, helping you with resources and contacts while you were still building, offering advice when asked?  Not even the headstrong Trump relied only on his own strength and diligence to reach the stratospheric heights of wealth and prestige he enjoys today.   

Who is that unfortunate person to advance on his journey, make it to his destination, and not be blessed and transformed by incredible souls along the way? 

Yes, I am where I am because of my commitment to hone my talent, my determination, and the hours upon hours I’ve put into growing my empire.  As they say, “If you don’t do it for yourself, who’s going to do it for you?”  But I’m also humble enough to know that I would not be where I am if it weren’t for the family members and college friends who saw greatness in my pocket camera shoot on that fateful day in April 2009.  Or that person sending me the referral or contact that impacted my pursuits tremendously.  Or the donations when I was broke, letters of much-needed encouragement when times felt unbearable, a bed or couch to lay on while in transition, or a fellow photographer helping me with resources and advice as I press towards my dreams. 

No, there’s no self-made man here, and if you’re on a similar path to success, you’re not “self-made” either, lest you missed the entire point of following your dreams.  You and I are the products of our efforts and the God-given people put along our paths to help, learn life lessons, and become better and stronger for the path that lies ahead.

*On a personal close, my heart goes out to everyone that I’ve encountered in the past year and a half that has made this journey beyond incredible…for I am true success story made by YOU.  Thank you.

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