Beware the Hand that Holds the Ladder

 Many an imminent citizen has been quoted saying “they rose up from nothing…they found their potential and used it to alleviate their own poverty.” People speak about it, rappers rap about it, and individuals allude to it when shirking the responsibility of lending a helping hand to a stranger/friend in need – after all they pulled up their bootstraps and rose in the ranks all by their lonesome.

“Self Made.” There have been albums titled after it, ballads sung about it and movements made with regard to the notion. Personally, with no disrespect, I believe it is a load of bullocks. No one is self-made, not in their entirety. I do not seek to minimize the role of the individual, the strength of character necessary to reach that pinnacle of success, the self-discipline, nor the marrying of preparation with opportunity; however that success was not reached based solely on individual effort.

That repositioning from destitute poverty to power and great riches must surely have had at lease one hand up somewhere in the rise. There must have been a friend that helped you, a foe that fueled your desire to do the seemingly impossible, a partner that pushed you, or even an angel investor that gave you financial wings.

The concept of building an empire from the ground up requires a foundation, and surely one must have masons and carpenters helping to lay the blocks and secure the scaffolding even if you are attempting to be a “jack of all trades” project manager.

It is important to realize and itemize the contributions of others. The climb up from nothingness to success must surely involve someone holding the ladder to stabilize it. The width and breadth of your come-up might be easy enough that the ladder is virtually stable on its own, but even then having someone to ensure that passers-by do not bump into it and aggravate it to the point where it topples over and deters your progress is a necessity. In order to focus on the climb up, there are those on the ground providing stability and support in whatever aspect necessary.

People often accredit success and progress to the I’s, I did this, then I did that, then I achieved the other, then I, then I, then I… However it is vital to give credit where it is due. Whether the contribution has been money, time, wisdom, expertise or even a less conventional catalyst planting seeds of doubt and despair that propelled you forward – it is important to have an awareness of these things and not omit them from the autobiography. It is important not to disregard the stabilizing forces, not to attempt to re-write history, and not to give in to the pretentious lure of keeping up appearances of occurrences that never occurred. Ultimately beware of the one that holds the ladder, don’t step on the fingers straining to stabilize your effort to your success.

There is a force, a spirit; “karma” if you will, that must surely circle back around. And if somewhere in the process you have purposely or unconsciously disregarded the importance of others’ contributions to where you are, there will be negative consequences from not giving credit when credit is due. The helpers sent to help you on their journey deserve their accolades too. Beware not to crush the fingers of the ones who are providing that stabilizing force for you, because ultimately, they might yank you back down or alternatively it may not by their own volition, but somehow, in some way, something will come round and bite you in the ass for your lack of gratefulness and class.