How hard you work is completely on you, no one else can do that for you. And if your success was solely connected to how hard you work then we all would be Self-Made Men. But you and I both know, if we are really honest with ourselves, hard work alone, no matter how foundational it is, is not the sole ingredient for success in a man’s life. To me there are two other ingredients that are needed as well.
First, what a man is exposed to, particularly when he is young, is also an important factor in his success. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, if the options you are aware of are limited, you can only get so far. The more a man is exposed to different options and opportunities for what he can achieve and aspire to, the greater his ability will be to make productive and wise decisions with his life that will produce greater success. If, however, your exposure is limited, then your worldview will be limited and the level of success you can achieve will be hindered.
When I first graduated from graduate school, I went to work for a prominent real estate developer in Atlanta. In a conversation we were having one day, he was explaining to me how he had come from a family with a long line of business men. His grandfather had started a bank, his father had started a bank, and he had started 4 banks in his lifetime. As he was telling me this I can remember thinking, “Wow! I know people in my family that don’t even have a savings account.” At the time, I didn’t really understand how it was possible for an individual to start a bank, the idea was a foreign concept to me and I had never been exposed to that world. But not for him. He grew up in family surrounded by businessmen and women and an understanding of business came naturally for him. In fact, over his lifetime, he started over 30 businesses. His sons too, they both had their own businesses. He had trained and prepared them for it.
Working for him was a learning experience for me. I began to appreciate the power being exposed to different options and opportunities has on shaping a man’s worldview and how extremely vital it is to someone’s success. So much of who we are and the level of success we can achieve in life is based on what we are exposed to. Even work ethic is shaped by it. If you are surrounded by people who practice good work ethics, you have a higher probability to pick up on successful working habits than someone who is not.
In addition to hard work and exposure, the last component to success is the support system that is surrounding you. Success often requires nurturing, especially when you are first starting out. It is during this time when you lack the most knowledge and wisdom about what you should do and are prone to make the most mistakes. Men who have a strong support network surrounding them, with mentors and advisors to help along the way, are better set up for success. When they need advice, they have someone to go to. When they make mistakes, they have someone to protect them. This advantage cannot be overstated. However, for those men who are on their own with a limited or no support network, they have a higher probability for failure and their mistakes will have a more detrimental effect on their success because they have no one to help them when they fall.