A few years back my wife and I hosted an event to raise money for Food For The Poor. The room was filled with success. People who were at the top and some that were headed there.
That night I talked about being born on third base. Some of you have heard the comment ‘He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple”. It is not a compliment.
Some in the room refused to believe they hadn’t done it all themselves. Overcome hardships, obstacles. Fought their way through to the top. And some surely had. Which meant to them, they deserved it. They earned it. They had shown they were better.
I stood in front of this group, seated around tables, following a sit down dinner, an open bar at the country club, seeking to get them to donate to a group whose only goal was to feed the poor of Central America. The ones who weren’t born on third base and would never get there.
Everyone in that room felt he was a self-made man or woman.
One problem with that. When you really think you are self-made man, you have lost your soul.
My story is middle class family with a lot of kids, got my first paycheck at age 14, paid for my first car myself and most of the other things that my parents couldn’t even consider, academic scholarships to high school and college. Paid for college and law school myself, hung out my own shingle at age 27 with one child and another one on the way. Scared the hell out of my wife.
Along the way I was threatened by companies to drop lawsuits, brought attorneys with me to court in case the judge threw me in jail, and many times pushed all the chips to the middle of the table.
If anyone in that room could claim he was a self-made man it was me.
But I wasn’t. Which meant no one else in that room was either.
I was born in the United States. That alone made me born on third base. I was guaranteed a shot. No matter how far behind I started. Might be harder for me than the guy in another zip code, but I could still do it.
I had every opportunity to succeed. I just had to do it. People helped me along the way. Some in small ways, some in big ways. Some I never even noticed.
Most importantly I never once thought I couldn’t do it. That it wouldn’t happen. And that’s what you get being born in the USA. You think you can.
And when you grow up truly believing you can do it if you work hard enough, you are born on third base.
No, I wasn’t left millions by my parents or married into a fortune, but I had what I needed. The people in my life: my wife, my family and my staff, and especially this country gave me the keys.
I was born on third base. Thank God for that. I didn’t earn it.