Scott’s Thoughts: Who’s On Your Ladder?

“There is no such thing as a ‘self-made’ man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts.”

-George Matthew Adams, newspaper columnist

Woman climbing a ladder.No matter how high we rise in our careers, or how far we feel we still have to go, we’ve reached our position through more than our own hard work. But at times we work so hard we forget those who have helped us along the way.

Even if you acknowledge this intellectually, there is a simple exercise you can do to reinforce your awareness of your connection to others an the role they’ve had in helping you develop your career.

Some time this week, sit down and comb your memory for the names of every person who has helped you in ways large or small. Next to their name, jot down a note or two about how they made a difference. Look at the past week, month, year. Go back as far as you can, even to that first teacher or friend who helped you believe in yourself.

This list is your ladder. Every person who supported you or gave you a “hand up” is a rung extending back to your origins and who knows how high.

There are some tangible benefits to making this list:

1. It allows you to recognize your connection to others and feel profound gratitude.

2. It reminds you to “pay it forward” with others and look for opportunities to contribute.

3. In those times when you feel disconnected, unloved, or otherwise frustrated, you can refer to the list to remind you of all those people who have rooted for you in the past and are still there if you need help.

This isn’t something you have to do in a single sitting. In fact, it may be better that you make it an ongoing project, adding names to the list throughout your life. Ask yourself: Who’s on my ladder?

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