The Idea Of Being Self-Made

The idea of a self-made individual and success for that matter in today’s western world (and for the most part even in many other countries and cultures) are tied up with what nowadays is referred to as the American dream. American dream is also associated with fame (often attained within the entertainment, fashion, or sports industry) and money, and in fact, success and happiness are commonly defined in those terms, hence, self-made individuals are commonly considered to be of those who manage to attain wealth and become rich. The self-made individual is who comes from discouraging circumstances, someone who is not born into privilege and power, and yet by her or his own determination, by pulling herself/himself up by the bootstraps, and achieves great success in life. These kinds of individuals are showcased in the media as the ultimate examples of how to be, and hence they become inspirational role models for others.

It is then important for all of us to learn that self-made individuals and their success stories is not and must not be limited to their ability to become rich; a self-made individual is anyone who achieves far greater goals/success than her/his initial circumstances that would have indicated was possible. Self-made individuals often have to overcome great obstacles to achieve their goals/success. They build their success through education, hard work, and absolute willpower. Success isn’t achieved through luck; it requires hard work, preparation, and seizing opportunities. Therefore, self-made individuals make their own way in life by reaching deep inside themselves and through willpower and elbow grease, creating their own destiny. Furthermore, it is also important to recognize the difference between success and happiness so we can utilize our efforts efficiently and effectively in order to reach our set goals and potentials. Success is what we get; and happiness is wanting what we get. It is important to do and be the best that we can do and be; if you can’t be the Sun, be a star; if you can’t be the great Muhammed Ali, be the best boxer in your state; if you can’t be the Spiderman, be Spiderman’s uncle. If you are going to be a mailperson, tell yourself that I am going to be the best mailperson I can be in my province or even in the country; do and be the best that you can do and be, and that, will bring you happiness, and thus feelings of success.

Booker T. Washington, 1856-1915

Booker T. Washinton was an American educator, author, lecturer, and advisor to presidents of the United States. Washington was a dominant leader in the African-American community during 1890 to 1915. He had a controversial approach to helping his people and for this reason he often was criticized by other African-American advocates such as DuBois. DuBios and many other advocates thought that the priority should be given to the fight for civil rights, Washington, however, argued that hard work must take precedence for blacks. He also believed that blacks need to manifest the virtues of industry and thrift, and achieve economic success. And when this takes place, he claimed, the rights they sought would naturally follow. His challengers argued that this view could oversimplify the process of achieving civil rights and equality since in their view economic success not always would lead to equality in society.

Washington become skilled at the shades of the political arena in the late 19th century, which allowed him to manipulate the media, develop strategy, network, raise money, push, and distribute funds. His long-term goal was to end the marginalization of the vast majority of African-Americans.

Washington was raised as a slave until freed by the 13th amendment. He, then, became employed in salt and coal mines before entering Hampton Institute to pursue higher education. As a result of his hard work the president of Hampton Institute recommended that Washington be made the head of the newly formed Tuskegee Institute. This position brought Washington fame as a nationally known advocate for the uplift and education of African-Americans. He managed to build over 5000 schools in the rural South to promote education for his fellow freedmen by raising funds and donations through his friendship with the rich corporate heads of his time.

He became even more famous and influential by the brisk sales of his autobiography, Up from Slavery, and his invitation from President Theodore Roosevelt to become the first African-American to dine at the White House. There are other examples of successful individuals like Booker Washington in the history of mankind, the men and women who managed to use their personal resources (i.e. cognitive, emotive, and behavioral adaptability resources) to overcome life’s uncertainties, difficult, and challenging conditions and turn their so called ill destiny into a successful one, just by believing in themselves and willpower. 

Author Bio: Dr. Harry G. Nejad

Dr. Harry G. Nejad   PhD, MACP, BA, BASc.
Research Scientist and Mental Health Counselor
Member of National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH). NGH ID: 40426