IT WAS a rare “double whammy” day last Sunday as we celebrated both Father’s Day and our mother’s birthday, which both happened to fall on the same date this year.
No, there were no big birthday bashes or social media posts about how #blessed we are‒we aren’t into posting sappy things on the Internet for one day and then going back to being disagreeable children for our parents the rest of the year. But it was a time for us to be thankful to our parents for doing their best to raise us, their children, to be contributing citizens of the world.
Now everyone’s mileage will vary, and your parents may not necessarily be that of the biological variety, but we can all agree that one way or the other, we have had people who were there for us and who nurtured us so that we could stand on our own two feet one day.
I find it refreshing to admit this in an era where being a self-made man or woman is such a big deal. We find the Invictus-type of people inspiring‒the masters of their fate and the captains of their souls. But one look at reality will only serve to reinforce the notion that there is no I in the word win. Heck, look at the NBA Finals; the better team obviously won, and the best player of the series was not on that team. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
Another such example for me was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s commencement speech at the University of Houston about a month ago. Here is a man many believe pulled himself up by his Austrian bootstraps and, without much English or money, managed to build his personal brand up to such a level that we have to spellcheck his name and routinely rattle off his one-liners.
He himself advocated the untruth of a self-made person to the graduating students, assuring them that he had more than enough behind-the-scenes help in retrospect to his success.
One anecdote of Arnold worth retelling‒and one that flew over the “Negative Nancy” people hating on the video‒was of how the guys in his gym bought him household items that he didn’t have and celebrated Thanksgiving with him on his first year in America. We’re talking about bodybuilders here, a group of people (often) misconstrued to be vain and narcissistic, who reached out to this kid and made him feel at home.
What does this story leave us? First, with the assurance that we don’t have to be Superman and try to fight our battles alone; we have friends and teammates for backup.
Second, since we’re all in this together, we are also obligated to help others fight their battles and find their way.
A self-made man? More like a self-made myth.