We don’t pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps

by | Aug 30, 2022 | Learning |

own bootstraps

Growing up in an immigrant community, I heard many stories of sacrifice. Both from the community I grew up and in other communities – including refugees. Stories of parents living a relatively ‘good life’ in their home country and leaving it (willingly or forcibly) for a new land. For some, e.g. farmers, flower growers, bakers, etc., they could use the skills in their new land easily. For others, e.g. doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc., it was more complicated. I have known of far too many highly qualified, incredibly smart people who drive taxis because their qualifications were not recognised in their new land.

And yet, they still came and would come again. Why? For their children and grandchildren. Not for themselves, but for the future. And many of their children and grandchildren have thrived (using all different sorts of metrics).

It is too easy to look at others (individually or other organisations) and believe they ‘pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps’. They didn’t. No one does. We build our lives with the help of others. Many immigrant families I know sacrificed to ensure their children had access to great education, various opportunities, and networks of others. This pillars enabled us all to grow and thrive.

But it is not just people, it’s teams and organisations too. Maybe we are doing something for the first time, but we are still building on the work of others. Perhaps it is regulatory work, perhaps it’s mindset shifts, perhaps it’s some sort of technology break through someone else did. For every new thing done, it is a culmination of our and other people’s work.

We don’t pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, we stand on the shoulders of giants. And perhaps one day, we collectively will reach the sky.

Who’s shoulders are you standing on this week? Perhaps drop them a note of thanks?

Photo by Filip Šablatura


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