The Silent Hand
For every successful person, there are those behind the scenes that helped that person along their way. They are often the silent hands that lifts a person’s chin up, keeping eyes focused. Encouragement, lessons, advice, or just a smile can be the key to someone’s success. Most often, the person best suited to be the silent hand--is a mom and/or a dad.
Credit is still due to the one who listened and learned because many do not succeed even when helped. Supportive families have their share of lost children because of a myriad of reasons, (drugs use, rebellion, outside influences, etc), all of which can result in children who do not respect or believe what they hear from their true mentors.
Sometimes it takes grit!
Lastly are those who, lacking someone to look up to, put on their spurs and 'cowboy up' to take charge of their lives when encouragement is as common as cool water in the desert. That's what I call 'grit', and those that have it eventually find their silent hand, anxious and willing to help.
I am reminded of all those that helped me, from the elderly couple that praised me for my efforts learning to ice skate, to the high school counselor who helped me get a college scholarship. Of course, my mother deserves credit for showing me love, feeding me and putting a roof over my head during very stressful times, especially for her. My wife Kathy pulled me through my early adult years, years when I was so naive, unsure of myself, and clumsy (I'm still clumsy). She kept me on track and I thank her for that. I got out of a bad situation, but I needed their help, and the help of many others.
I do not claim to be a successful person in some glamorous or heroic way. No, I am successful for taking what was handed to me and making something more out of it. That is the only kind of success we can ask or hope for. That kind of success is made possible by taking advice--and using it, while adjusting it to your situation. We are often quick to blame others for our failures but slow to give a nod to anyone who gave us a push in the right direction. My high school counselor couldn't have helped me had I not the 'grit' to put my nose in the books. My wife would not have stayed with me had she not seen my determination. Grit will call out the silent hand!
Cooperation is key
If I may use a few metaphors. We notice the apple falling from the tree, but we forget--except Isaac Newton--that gravity made it possible. We see a sail billowing and give it all the credit for propelling the boat, but the sail is useless without the breezes it captures. We appreciate the rain when it nourishes our crops, but the soil is always there for us, relatively unnoticed.
Still credit goes also to the doer. The apple falls but it also held on until ripe. The sail billows only because it is strong enough to withstand the stress of the breezes. The soil must have sufficient nutrients or the crops will still fail, rain or not. So it is with us and our children. It takes both a community of helpers, and an individual that will listen and learn, and maybe have some grit, to make a success story.
When success loses
Success stories are rare when either the community of helpers does not exist, or the individual fails to take advantage of the help. To be successful when one or the other is missing takes enormous energy. For a young man to climb out of a fatherless home in a crime ridden neighborhood to be a success--is an almost miraculous feat requiring enormous grit. Not only is help difficult to find for him, but forces that would pull him down to the gutter are rampant. He must struggle mightily to find his way out and too few do so. In the opposite situation, a young man will fall far short of his potential when he has all the advantages which would seem to make success obtainable, but fails to use some or all of them.
The first example of no support is a situational tragedy that takes tremendous spirit and grit to escape. The second example of a lost child is a spiritual tragedy that requires an inordinate amount of tireless and selfless assistance from friends and loved ones attempting to correct their attitude or internal issues.
A family is the perfect community to help young people succeed
A self-driven young person with a supportive family would have an atmosphere of encouragement and cooperation to help pave the way to success. However, a young person who seems lost, lazy, or defiant will need a supportive family even more so. Not supportive in accepting their negative characteristics, but supportive in getting them psychological help, or supportive in demanding better from them, and/or supportive in an encouraging, caring way. When those things fail to help, then the negative consequences they have brought upon themselves must be experienced to the fullest. The silent hand is not there to be shunned. The family community must relent when it is evident their help is not working.
We all fail and there are two types of failures. One type fails by trying and the other type fails by not trying. The first type will be helped--with the admiration of the community--to become stronger. The second type will be helped—with the compassion of the community—but will become weaker. They will survive, barely, on the patience and pity of others.
When the silent, lifting hand of a strong family does not exist, it will take a strong individual to break through and achieve success. Escaping to success from a non-supportive family is a gift to society as much as it is a blessing to the escapee. Support, wherever you find it, is key! But support has limits and must stop when it is forever fruitless. My heart goes out to both, the family strong enough to stop the feeding the endless ne’er-do-wells, and to those who succeed with grit from little or nothing. It takes so much energy and patience to be a good and contributing citizen, also called a success. And that's what makes it special!