I came across this picture on Skoticus's blog the other day. It's entitled "Self-made man."
I realize it's not usually meant to mean that the person literally did it all alone—no one is that self-absorbed—but it does seem to be disingenuous to have so much focus on the person being made. There are a lot of forces at work there, after all.
How would the sculpture get started if it didn't at least have a chisel and hammer lain by it?
How would the entrepreneur be successful at selling his idea if people didn't buy it? If there was nothing to sell?
There can be no leaders in a vacuum—by definition, leaders lead people. And those people are free to do as they will...and choose to give their attention or money—to give power—to their leader (whether a business leader, governmental leader, or leader in other contexts). Leaders are nothing without those they lead.
On the other hand, "self-made" people get places either because they preservere and knuckle down and do hard things and hope for a better future.
So what proportion is it from self-made to others-made?
Whatever the answer, I think it's great when people recognize their strengths and are grateful for them, and when they recognize that they've been helped along the way by other people.
A one-man circus is a lonely thing.