Calling Yourself “Self-Made” Is Bullshit

I always find it funny to read the term self-made somewhere or hear someone say that he is a self-made man because how big of an egocentric man you got to be to call yourself self-made?

It is true that those people really came a long way. It is true that most of them started with nothing. It is true that they worked harder than anyone else around them to get to where they are now. But it is not true that they are ,and anyone ever else will be, self-made.

To get somewhere in life we are all dependent on at least some sort of help. This applies to everyone. I’ve never come across one single person whose life wasn’t build on a foundation of parents, friends, teachers, and mentors.
We all have that one beautiful soul that we can always rely on, no matter what is going on. They give us a place to stay when we have nowhere to go. They support us when we most need it.
We all have someone who shares wisdom and advice with us. In times of darkness that’s the person we go to.
We all have some sort of idol in our lives. Although we might only know them from posters or the internet, they motivate us when we feel like giving up.

You might have that big vision. You might have that fire in your soul. But where would you really be without the help of all those people? Odds are, right where you began.

So how can you ever claim to be self-made? To say that to yourself  is an insult to every person and every piece of adive that got you here. You are only making a fool of yourself by believing that you are self-made. But the worst thing is that it gives the wrong impression to anyone that looks up to you: That they can do it alone.
I can’t. All the people I know or heard of can’t. You probably can’t. And those who look up to you probably can’t do it either.

We all need fuel to be added to our fire to keep it burning. Without the help, support, advice, and inspiration of others, we wouldn’t have that fuel and would be stuck with nowhere to go.

I bet you have learned something from all of them and oftentimes picked up something you didn’t expect. I bet that a big part of your day is designed after the pieces of advice you have received from others and implemented them in your life. Whether it’s your morning routine, your training, the way you treat people, the philosophy you live your life by, even the things you eat, or just motivation to get through your day.

The world is a classroom where you soak up lessons to add fuel to your fire. There will always be moments in life when you need outside motivation and advice. There will be a lot of times when you don’t have the answer to your problem and you are forced to look beyond yourself.

You can admit that you can’t do it alone. I can’t. Probably no one can. To deny it is just plain wrong.
So please stop calling yourself self-made because in reality none of us is.

How Schools Kill Our Creativity

Everybody is interested in learning new things. Everybody is interested in education. Because it’s education that’s meant to take us into the future that we can’t quite understand. That we can’t prepare for. And most certainly can’t quite grasp. 

All kids are gifted with tremendous talents. And we squander them, pretty ruthlessly. You know what is amazing about kids? They’re not afraid of being wrong. We all know that if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. But by the time these kids grow up and get to be adults, most of them have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run everything in our society like this. We stigmatize mistakes. And we’re running education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities.  As Picasso once said: “All children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” 

I believe this deep down in my heart, that we don’t grow into creativity, we get educated out of it. There are two principles on which human life flourishes and grows, and they are contradicted by the culture of education under which most teachers have to work and most students have to endure. The first one is that human beings are naturally different and diverse. The second principle that drives human life is curiosity. Curiosity is the engine of achievement. 

Every education system on Earth has the same hierarchy of subjects. At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and at the bottom are the arts. And in pretty much every system too, there’s a hierarchy within the arts. Art and music are normally given a higher status in schools than drama and dance. There isn’t an education system on the planet that teaches drama and dance everyday to children the way we teach them mathematics or any other subject. Math is very important since it is the building stone of our universe, but as important is dance. Children dance all the time if they’re allowed to, we all do. We all have bodies, don’t we? It’s in our nature. It’s who we are. It’s a way to express ourselves and math can’t do that for us. Our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there’s a reason for that. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism and that was more than 200 years ago.

So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas. The most useful subjects for work are at the top. So you were probably steered favourable away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the illusion that you would never get a job and an acceptable wage doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician and you will never be as great as person X; Don’t do art, you won’t be an artist and you will never be as great as person Y. The consequence is that many highly-talented, wonderful, creative people think they aren’t that, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized. The second is academic ability. Take a moment to realize that the whole system of public education all around the globe is a long-winded process to get you into university.  But due to that the whole structure of education is changing. Because in the next few years more people than ever before in history will be graduating and suddenly degrees aren’t worth anything because everyone has one. 

We have to rethink the foundation on which we’re educating our future. And the only way we’ll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are. Let’s not forget that we are educating fragile human beings. Let’s not forget that we are educating them to be prepared for their future and at the same time shape them for the rest of their lives. School is a dangerous tool because it is responsible for our future. But by doing school right we can create sheer beauty  and bring richness and growth to our lives and this planet.

This post was inspired by Sir Ken Robinson. If the educational system would have more people like him we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. He is an inspiring and life changing person. We need more people like him.