10 Reasons Why “Self-Made Success” Is Hogwash!

How To Become Wealthy

If you ever went to Google and searched the term “self-made millionaires”, you’d find numerous articles on secrets and approaches used by self-made millionaires.

In fact, in one of the articles, titled: “5 Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires”, published on Time.com, ‘secret # 4’ says that they “found at least one success mentor in life”.

Ironic isn’t it? That you would need someone else to assist you to become ‘self-made’.

In a world where inter-dependence trounces dependence; serving God, running the Comrades Marathon and being an entrepreneur has taught me that it is the biggest load of hogwash for anyone to claim to be a self-made success.

In this post, I’ll give you 10 reasons why I say so. I’m sure there are plenty more. But, these are the 10 that I found to be most compelling.

1. We All Start Out Dependent

Every single one of us is born dependent. I’m yet to come across a new born baby that could talk and walk at birth.

We depend on others, mostly our parents – be it biological or otherwise – to nurture us.

Think about it for a second, all we do very early on in our lives is eat, cry and crap. That’s a far cry from independence.

2. We Depend On Parents To Develop

In an article published on www.childdevelopmentinfo.com, the following is highlighted:

“As children develop from infants to teens to adults they go through a series of developmental stages that are important to all aspects of their personhood including physical, intellectual, emotional and social.  The proper role of the parent is to provide encouragement, support and access to activities that enable the child to master key developmental tasks. A parent is their child’s first teacher and should remain their best teacher throughout life.  Functioning as a coach, the parent exposes a child to age appropriate challenges to encourage development as well as to experiences that allows the child to explore on their own and learn from interacting with their environment.”

Yes, some people grow up without biological parents. However, they grow up in a surrogate support structure that helped you to develop as a child.

3. Your gifts and talents develop in an inter-dependent environment

All success comes from your ability to use your gifts and talents. Identifying those gifts and talents often happens while you participate in activities that involve others.

Identification is only half the equation. Using those talents and gifts to fully develop their potential also happens while you participate in activities that involve others.

4. Your Ideas serve and benefit others

We all have creative flair. However, others are exceptionally creative and come up with new ideas in their sleep. To them, coming up with ideas is second nature.

As a result of those new ideas, they often are able to generate success. The success that results from these ideas often leads them down a path of “self-made success”.

Yet, no idea exists in isolation. All ideas are meaningless if they don’t serve and benefit others practically. This blog was inspired by 4 key reasons that are geared at serving and benefiting others.

It follows that whatever ideas we come up with, have to receive “buy-in” from others – often potential clients. Those potential clients play an integral role in your journey to success.

5. Someone has to give you a chance for the very first time

Subsequent to my studies, I worked in the corporate world for 8 years. I can tell you with certainty that your grades and qualifications are only the beginning. In fact, many a student get a rude awakening when they find themselves jobless with great qualifications.

Studying is awesome. Then it’s the interviews. Ultimately, with no work experience, someone in the company you’ve applied to work at has to say: “yep, we are willing to give you are a chance for the first time.”

The business world is no different. As I write this post, I’ve been in business for 7 years. Be it a product or service that you offer, for you to crack your first sale, someone has got to say: “yep, I am willing to give you a chance to sell your product or service me”.

When you go down that “self-made success” path, never forget that first chance you got to prove yourself.

6. Monetary success comes from products and services used by others

You might be thinking: “how is this point different from point number 4?”

Any genuinely successful entrepreneur will tell you that ideas seldom sell immediately. While many will cheer you on at idea stage, very few people are willing to put their money where their mouth and cheering is.

As a result, success often starts out as a very lonely journey where your ideas and vision have nothing or very little to show for in monetary terms. I registered Wealthy Mindset in 2007 and it took a few years to start seeing financial progress.

I stared Run For Wealth in September 2014. I published content every single week for FREE. I shared my experiences and training programmes on running for FREE. I spent countless hours building this resource for runners. In July 2015, I was given as awesome opportunity to be the Johannesburg Nike+ Run Club Coach. Although I get remunerated for that work, someone believed in the services and knowledge I was imparting on a weekly basis. They referred Nike to me. I started engaging with Nike. Someone at Nike had to believe in me. Then I started engaging with an entire team there. They too had to believe in me before I got the gig.

Do you see how financial success can never be a “self-made” journey?

When you persevere, your ideas and vision begin to pick up momentum. Eventually your ideas migrate to products and services that people are willing to spend their hard earned money on.

When our ideas and vision start gathering momentum, we are tempted to go down “self-made success” ally. Be quickly reminded that the money generated through the sale of your products and services is never an independent journey.

The workplace is no different. You might be reading this and saying: “but, I’m not an entrepreneur”. Whatever job you occupy only exists because someone out there is willing to buy a product or service that is offered by the company you work for,

You – as the employee – are part of the value-add chain.

7. Growth is a collective effort

Starting out in your career or entrepreneurial journey is one thing. Growing and sustaining your existence is a completely different path altogether.

In an article published on Forbes and titled “Five Reasons 8 out 10 Businesses Fail”, the author – Eric T. Wagner – highlights that according to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months.

He goes onto mention that one of the reasons for this failure is “Leadership breakdown at the top (yes- founder dysfunction).

He further says the following:

“You see it all the time in the media. Right off the deep end goes another athlete with unbelievable talent. Painful to watch the self-sabotage of the likes of a Lance Armstrong, Mike Tyson or Aaron Hernandez, all of which fell short from truly remarkable success because of their poor decisions.

Now startup entrepreneurs who go down hard might not have their names splashed across the headlines of tomorrow’s New York Post, but I submit to you their reason for failure is sometimes the same. Self-sabotage through extremely poor decision making and weak leadership skills.”

While this was an article targeted at entrepreneurs, I truly believe that we are entrepreneurs of our own lives. As such your career growth follows the same pattern as that of a business.

Sadly, along that path, 80% fail largely as a result of the dysfunction caused by poor decisions and self-sabotage.

We all go through periods of poor decision-making and self-sabotage. That’s part of growing up. To grow up, requires you to seek the advice of others (directly or indirectly).

That growth is never an independent journey. There are mentors who play a pivotal role.

8. Overcoming emotional trauma requires support

Being driven, having a vision and being a “go-getter” is emotionally taxing.

You go through “ups” and “downs”. The downs are enough to cause one to commit suicide. Sadly others do.

As such, through your journey of perseverance, you often need others to encourage and motivate you when you are down (and ‘out’).

Be it family or close friends, colleagues or business associates, those people play an extremely important emotional support structure.

9. Someone has to financially support your success

At any given point in your journey to success, someone has had to financially support you.

Be it at the start, when you had to focus your time and energy on a project that yielded little or no financial returns, someone had to believe in you and support you financially.

For many successful people, they once tasted success, self-sabotaged themselves and hit incredibly painful lows. Lows, that required financial support once again. Even on their way up, someone had to support them financially as they re-built their lives.

No success comes without the financial support of others.

10. Ultimate success is highly linked to self-actualization

We all define success differently. To many, success is about material and financial growth.

I truly believe that financial growth is one aspect of success. In my Wealth Creation E-Course, I elaborate further. It’s suffice to say that you can be financially successful and live a very sad, frustrating and dull life.

In saying the above, I think the best way to get to a commonly agreed upon definition of success, one needs to refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:


At the summit of that pyramid is “Self-actualization”. It is worth noting that below “self-actualization” is “Esteem”, which has synonyms such as “achievement”.

Achievement is great. But if we look at the summit of our full potential as human beings, achievement isn’t the summit. As such, success cannot be adequately defined as “achievement”.

In analyzing the hierarchy of needs, one word that pops up under “self-actualization” is “problem-solving”. Once again, we are back at people and how our optimal success is highly linked to others.


It sounds very cool and bravo to claim that you are a “self-made success”.

When you think back to the sacrifices, pain, back-stabbing and all the other horrible stuff that seldom make it into the “journey to success script”, it is very tempting to tell others that “yeah, I stuck it out and came out a better person. Look at me now, I’m self-made”.

But, I’m here to tell you that “self-made success” is the biggest load of hogwash!

Personally, as a child of the Almighty God, I can only look back at my journey and the journey ahead and scream “Grace!” He has graced me with talents and gifts. He has graced me with the ability to identify and use those gifts as best as I can. Most importantly, He has graced me with the wisdom to know that at the end of all my intellect, gifts, connections, ideas, perseverance (and everything else that often makes it into the ingredients for success), everything I am today is undeserved favour!

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Leave A Reply (5 comments so far)

  1. Tumelo M
    3 years ago

    As my mother would always say “no man is an island entire of its own.” Thinking of it now, it makes complete sense to me that no sane human being can survive entirely on their own without dependence on other human beings. In one way or another, all of us as human beings are connected by some mysterious wired network that is connected to our hearts, minds and souls. For instance, it is normal to have sympathy for a stranger you don’t even know when you see them crying or when you come across a happily married couple, their happiness gets to you also. This holds value to the fact that “no one is entire of their own” By the way i’d also like to add on to your first point (we all start out dependent). The statement is in all aspects true, but i also strongly believe that our dependence is always there, its just that it shifts with our growth.
    Great piece you wrote there, i’m honoured to be one of the people that have read this article. The imparting of your wisdom and knowledge is truly acknowledged and appreciated.
    God bless!

    • Peteni
      3 years ago

      Hi Tumelo

      Thanks a million for your feedback.
      I’m glad you found the article to be useful and insightful.

      Your comments are much appreciated.

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