A self-made person is a myth. Not one person has found any kind of success without the support of other people. We hear a lot about self-made millionaires who worked their way to success. But those millionaires did not do it by themselves. Sure they put in the hard work and effort, but there were always other people who contributed to their success. It is pure arrogance to think that any of us has made it alone.
In End the Struggle the Struggle and Dance With Life, Susan paraphrased a story from philosopher Noah benShea: A little boy goes to a parade with his father. In order for the little boy to see, his father hoists him up on his shoulders. As the parade passes by, the little boy keeps telling his father how spectacular are the passing sights. He gets so arrogant about his wonderful view that he mocks those who see less. “If only you could see what I can see…” But what the boy doesn’t understand is why he could see. If the boy had realized his advantage, he could have been grateful for the boost his father gave him instead of getting cocky.
In your own life, do you recognize the people who have helped to lift you up along the way? Do you feel grateful towards them and all the people who are supporting you now?
Susan said, “The truth is that when we look back on all our achievements, we see that we have done NOTHING on our own. That should humble us a bit!”
Let’s take a look at who those people are. There is your family, to begin with. Then teachers, mentors, friends, counselors, and so many more who have been there for you while you put in the work towards achieving your goals. Susan wrote, “You really begin to stand tall when you realize how many shoulders you are standing on; you also feel richer in spirit. And just as importantly you are less of a burden and more of a giant as you acknowledge the contribution that others make to your life.”
But there is even more we can do to understand just how much we rely on other people. In End the Struggle, Susan also introduces us to the idea of “Look Deeply.” This exercise teaches us to look deeper into all the anonymous support that goes into making our lives run smoothly.
“Most of us only skim the surface when we look at what life gives to us,” Susan said. “This is why we habitually take things for granted and miss the miracle of it all. For example, there was a time in my life when I used to walk into a supermarket and think what a chore it was. I’m sure many of you understand exactly what I am talking about!… By learning to look deeply, I was able to transform dealing with a chore in the supermarket into many exquisite moments.”
Here’s an an example of how “Look Deeply” works: When you go into a market, see all the items that are there for you to choose from. Not only the amount of choices you have, but how they are displayed to be pleasing to the eye. As you make your selections, think about the clerks who work hard to keep up the full shelves and displays. Think about the farmworkers who worked hard to grow the ingredients for your favorite foods, then think about the packers who made sure your lettuce, fruit, and chicken were packaged so that you could eat them fresh and undamaged. Think about the transport operators and truck drivers who got all these wonderful items to the store so that you could have your pick of food and nourishment. You can look deeper and deeper at all the people who worked hard for you to have the wonderful choices the supermarket offers.
“We could be there all day and couldn’t look deeply enough to encompass the miracle of it all! When you look at the supermarket in this way, it is a monumentally large gift that we have been given.”
When you feel grateful for the teacher who inspired you, the aunt who encouraged your dreams, the friends who sympathized with your set-backs—the people you know who supported you—don’t forget to look more deeply into the people who work behind the scenes to make your life more convenient and fruitful.
“The more appreciative we become, the more humble we become, which is a good thing,” Susan wrote. “Arrogance is very hard to live with, whether it’s in others or in ourselves! We also feel less impoverished or a victim when we are aware of all the blessings we receive from other people in our world. When we have this awareness, we feel part of a larger whole, a network of caring, a network of people standing on each other’s shoulders. How blessed we are.”
When we stop taking people for granted, when we stop taking anything for granted, we know that we stand on the shoulders of the people we know and those that we don’t—everyone who has assisted us along the way. Next time you are feeling low, think of how much help you really have and you will be humbled and delighted, knowing you are supported wherever you are.