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I am not Self-made. I'm Self-motivated.

On my drive into Boston this morning, I was thinking about my career. Today is my yearly evaluation, so the thought was fitting. I also remembered a speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger where he adamantly proclaimed that he was not a self-made man.

After thinking about Arnold’s speech, I proceeded to think about the many people who aided in my success. I was overwhelmed by the thought. More people came to mind than I ever realized. I, like Arnold, am not a self-made man—not even almost.

A lot of people claim to be self-made. I hear phrases like “I paid my way through college.” Or “I didn’t rely on my parents to get me where I am in life.” Or, something similar. I think we’ve all heard these claims. Some folks may have actually lifted themselves by the bootstraps without assistance. I am not one of those people.

I can have all the motivation I want. I can read all the books in the world. I can do all the exercises, take all the tests. I can prepare myself for any situation. When it comes to my career, I believe I’ve done an excellent job in this regard. I am a motivated self-starter and self-educator. I am proud of these qualities. But, they can only take me so far. These qualities do not make me a self-made man.

I am not the yin to my yang. My personal qualities need balance and a place to be useful. Without this balance, my contribution to the world has less potential for positive impact. Other people have provided me the opportunities to thrive. They’ve given me a platform to use my personal qualities to excel. Without these folks, I’m merely a motivated guy in search of an opportunity to succeed.

Sean Daniels and Scott Phillips. David Daniel and George Chaix. Matt Rhodes and Travis Blotsky. Jeffery and Rebecca Cohen. Chris Griffin. Corky Mower, Ethan Brown, and Fred Johanns. Chris Nichols and Jake Pellegren. Michael Peritore. Welling LaGrone. You’ve all given me an opportunity to succeed in my career. You’ve helped me by teaching me, pushing me, offering me a job or providing balance to my technical skill set. I am successful because of you, and I am forever grateful.

My family is a massive contributor to my success. My wife and kids let me pursue my dreams. I’ve never felt any competition for my attention from them. They understand the joy I get from reading books, practicing exercises, and sitting in front of a computer screen tinkering for hours on end. They don’t fuss or feel neglected when I pay for another class or hire a mentor for help. They support my decision to change jobs or seek out better opportunities. They let me make mistakes and learn from them. They understand that my career is important to me. They also understand how fortunate I am to enjoy the kind of work I do. Because of them and their support, I am not a self-made man.

I am grateful for the people in my life. I am thankful to have a career that I genuinely love. It is a blessing to work with people who make my job fun, exciting and challenging. I am happy for the balance they bring.

And that is my gratitude for today.

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