Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Genetics, Environment or Pure Luck

About 9 years ago I was sitting in an MBA course with a bunch of bright accomplished folks when the Professor asked us what seemed to be a strange question:

What is the single most important reason for your success?

We of course being self confident, accomplished, smart, determined, etc professionals came up with the usual reasons. Our drive, intelligence, work ethic, etc... And maybe a couple of thanks to our parents... His answer was quite different:

You were lucky enough to be born in America !!!

His rationale is very valid. He had friends that were much smarter, more driven and skilled than him. Unfortunately they were born in the Soviet Union and therefore spent a significant amount of time in food lines. I have confirmed his rationale since by working with folks from several other developing countries.

The point of the story: sometimes we seem to forget that "those other folks" could have been us... I have become much more empathetic, since I came to understand this. Therefore I am willing to work harder to help and understand "those other folks".

By the way, this not a "get out of jail free card". I believe folks need to strive for improvement no matter their starting point, however I truly understand now that starting out in my highly educated upper middle class family made my climb a lot easier. It's amazing the power of gratitude, once you finally make a point to notice all of the things you have to be thankful for, then make a point to start sharing some of your good fortune with others who were not so lucky.

Start giving and volunteering !!! The pay back is HUGE !!!

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