A while back my buddy Chris Forbes and I were talking about some “successful” people, those in particular fields who everyone looks up to as “having made it,” and he gave me a great quote to balance our conversation (he doesn’t claim ownership, by the way):
“Most people were born on second, but think they hit a home run.”
The preface …
So .. I’m a recovering idealist. I think about most things in terms of a perfect end goal, or the best example of something, the rising star, the standard, the hit.
Business success is no different. And their entrepreneurs are no different to me.
And like most people, I love the ‘rags to riches’ stories. The overnight successes.
I get fixated on the end result … seeing Richard Branson, or Seth Godin, or [insert any wildly successful person or product] at the pinnacle of business success … and forget that there was a journey to get there.
When I read their stories now though, and maybe this is my cynical Gen X side kicking in, I always wonder who helped them? … what breaks they got? … did they in fact ride good fortune? … were they born into money?
The answer is typically yes … but I do think the defining traits most of them have are initiative and drive.
They might have possessed the same skills as their peers did … but the difference was … they took risks that the others didn’t.
And for that major difference I think they are home run hitters and deserve special status.
Anyway, back to the point …
I acknowledge I’m the product of a bunch of people, experiences and benefits … I’m not cocky enough to say that any success I’ve enjoyed is all mine. (And by the way, don’t compare myself with those mentioned here.)
I can’t/don’t/won’t take credit for any of the success I’ve enjoyed — personal or business.
I had great parents who loved me and encouraged me and sometimes, rather blindly as only a parent can, said I could do whatever I put my mind and energy too.
I watched and admired two entrepreneurial grandfathers build two unique and successful businesses. (I learned a ton by just my watching them do their thing.)
I’m the product of many mentors myself who never knew I was sitting at their feet listening to them …
Professionaly, I took the best ideas and practices gleaned from switching jobs every 1.5 years (yeah, I’m a job hopper) … with new bosses, new coworkers, diverse new work, challenging new positions, and new work environments … and I collected the best of those experiences into my own “dream list” of ideas I would implement as “boss” one day.
I’ve had tons of had great friends who introduced me to other people — in fact, some introductions to people who eventually became my business partners, and who, without their help, I couldn’t have started iThemes.
Plus, I’ve eaten a ton of dead trees in my life … I’ve forgotten many of their titles and author’s names, but they are in my bloodstream now and consequently a part of me, personally and professionally.
But that story isn’t as sexy or entertaining as claiming I did all of that myself, a broke bum (I wasn’t) who spent a bunch of sleepless night (I actually did) clawing my way up ladders (I was and am ambitious but not at the expense of others) and just overnight my original, brilliant idea just TOOK off (it didn’t).
Nah, I was born on second, maybe third … like a whole bunch of other people.
P.S. – Every day I wake up and am still breathing I’m thankful that … I Am, indeed, Second … that any success I might enjoy in this life is ultimately intended for another purpose altogether. I’m merely the steward of any of it, just a manager of another’s property … whatever blessing comes upon me is designed for a far greater purpose than my own minuscule existence. I hope I’m always found faithful in what I’ve been entrusted. Thanks for allowing me to share that with you. Merry Christmas!