It Takes a Village and a Child

As Your Deepest Dream makes clear, you may accomplish goals by yourself, but you can never accomplish a fulfilling dream alone. It takes hard work on your part, help from other people, and God’s favor in a world of fickle circumstance. President Obama recently got in trouble by saying to entrepreneurs, “If you have a [successful] business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” What he said was both true and false.

It is certainly true that nobody achieves a dream alone. Hillary Clinton once famously quoted an African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That is true. No set of parents is sufficient in itself to give children all they need to go out into the world and succeed. But as it is with all human truths, there is a limit to this one.

Obama was correct that government has a role in supporting the success of entrepreneurs. Clinton was correct that communities have a role in the raising of children. But it is untrue that entrepreneurs don’t build their businesses, just as it is essential for parents to take the initiative in ensuring the successful raising of their children (and children do best to cooperate!).

It is the combination of rigorous personal effort, the support of communities, and the grace of God that make it possible to achieve dreams that are fulfilling. And just as people need their communities, communities need their people. Without the help of successful individuals, government cannot prosper. Without successful children, communities have no source of pride. It may take a village to raise a child successfully, but it also takes a successful child to raise a community.

Successful Olympians raise the sights of entire nations and communities. A single bronze medal can be enough to inspire the children of a poor nation. Olympians do well to thank their countries, and the countries do well to honor all their citizens who achieve their dreams by making the most of what they have been given—in sports, business, or any other worthy pursuit.