I joined some of my esteemed colleagues at an award and recognition gala at a downtown Toronto hotel last weekend. It’s an annual event that brings all the high achievers together for recognizing their exceptional work done through the previous year.
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Great food, excellent ambiance, entertainment and music. In short, it’s one of the most prestigious occasion for top performers, and being part of it, especially being a recipient of this outstanding award in the presence of other achievers can’t help you feel on top of the world.
A lingering euphoric thought stayed with me driving back home that night. While still enjoying this recent success, my mind flashed back to a conversation around achievements with a couple of friends, where one of the friends mentioned being solely responsible for his success to date, mostly being a self-made man. I know he didn’t mean it arrogantly, it was his way of expressing all the hard work he did to get to where he is today. And I know he did work very hard.
I felt a bit less about myself at that moment. I wondered if I could say the same thing about my journey so far. It feels great being recognized for your hard work, but do you deserve every bit of it or are you just fortunate being at the right place at the right time? Granted you have put your blood, sweat, heart and soul into your work for getting the results you can cherish, but is that all you need to get those outcomes? Would I be the person I am today (whatever that is) with just my passion and grit? What would I be without the circumstances around me?
I began thinking about the numerous people who impacted my life. I needed help coming into this world and then from rolling to crawling to walking and then running, there were many helping hands around. From schooling to college and my first job, every step of the way I felt one or the other holding my hands and pull me up. My parents for raising us well, my dad for never taking a single day off in 60 years of his work life, working 6.5 days a week to provide a comfortable living to a large family. The older siblings helping the younger siblings with their homework set the foundation for us in many ways, the teachers sometimes taking particular interest in my growth helped me tremendously. The group learning sessions at the campus assisting each other with our studies, the very first job that I got with no experience paved the path for me. The guidance and support I received from my seniors to do my job well. The patience from others tolerating any mistakes, which were plenty.
Numerous thoughts speedily crossed my mind that I can’t remember even to write them now. And that is how easy it is to forget the hands that helped you climb. I felt everyone need others along the journey. I needed my parents to become a son, my siblings to be one, my wife to be called a husband, my children to be named a father, and a team to be called a leader. Reflecting on all my accomplishments, I couldn’t come up with a single one that I could stake my full claim. I concluded. I am an outcome of many people’s help and guidance. And this award was no exception.
No person is an island. So why do we love to think of our successes as ours alone? Whether we achieve success after tackling adversity or just through hard work, it’s far too easy to let accomplishments go to our heads and make ourselves believe they were all our own doing. Even if you’re exceptionally great at what you do, your ego can get the better of you quickly. One way we can control our ego is by thinking of ourselves as students that never stop learning. Having worked as a consultant, I learned very early that you are as good as the last feedback from your client. Success and achievements are like the building blocks of other’s support that get stacked on top and sideways of each reaching tall and wide.
If you are the player sliding the puck into the net, don’t get lost in the applause of the crowd and the thrill of the goal. Always remember that there was someone who passed the puck to you to win. It’s never just you solely responsible for the happy ending. It does take a village.
The drive back home felt too short as I was busy counting my blessings. I could not even claim any credit for my intelligence and passion for giving my best, as it must be the genes passed on. I felt many people were looking out for me. The list is endless, but my success is finite.
I am glad that I am not a self-made man, as that would not have brought out the best that I have absorbed from others around me.
Look up to achievers for inspiration and look at those struggling to remain humble. Enjoy and relish the feeling of being on top of the world, and if you are feeling special, it is not because of your feats but on the many shoulders you are now standing.
Share your thoughts.
Success to you!