I’m reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged – for the 4th or 5th time. I’ve always returned to various chapters. But the four or five times are complete readings – start to finish. It uplifts me. I cheer for the creators, inventors, producers, and the working men and women who appreciate and take part in their success. I’ve never been afraid of hard work. I enjoy being around people who appreciate hard work and are willing to do the hard work. The book’s heroes tell me I’m not alone. Knowing the millions who have read the book also let’s me know there are others ‘out there’ like me!
It is difficult for me to explain to most others why I so love this book. I find myself feeling that I must defend it. Thus, I sigh… I am frustrated when others don’t see the connection between man’s mind and the need to use it. I’m at a loss to explain why it’s rings so true for me. You see, it’s more than a philosophy. It’s more than an argument in relation to political ideologies. For me it is HOPE! Yes, Hope! I lose myself in the pages as someone might be lost in the grandeur of the universe on a clear, star-filled night.
Reading it brings memories and thoughts to light… especially re: SUBSIDY
One of those memories took place when we moved to the farm (I was in high school). A college student on his summer job visited my father regarding some kind of census. He told dad he could get subsidy for not growing wheat on our 100 acres. No one had ever grown wheat there. My father told him and said, “No thank you.” The young man said that someone before him collected and he had the same opportunity. My dad responded, somewhat irked, “I’ve never grown wheat here. I do not expect to be paid for something I’ve never done.” The young man seemed baffled. He tried to explain that it was… well, free money!
WHOA! Not a comment you make to my dad. He explained that it is tax money, it is not free. He tried to explain that he didn’t earn it, nor did he fit the rules for receiving it. Lastly, he did not believe the government should pay someone not to do something. To the young man’s credit for persistence and believe he was doing the right thing for my dad, he returned three different times before my dad finally lost patience and chased him away.
Another memory involves working long hours picking tomatoes and grapes while living on the farm. At times I hated every minute. But there was that moment, at the end of a long day, when I experienced the reward of satisfaction! That sense of accomplishment has always been important to me.
I’ve also experienced the joy of creating a business or two in my lifetime and reaping the rewards of the effort. And no, it has not always brought satisfaction. I’ve had failures, upsets, a bankruptcy. But I’ve also celebrated success and the most amazing joy of seeing something I’ve created being consumed.
I’ve been the ‘worker-bee’ for another’s amazing success – both corporate and small business – a number of times. I enjoy being a part of their endeavor, knowing that doing my best is a tribute to their success and that I honor their efforts. I do not mind working hard. I do not envy their success. And when I momentarily feel a bit jealous, I must look inward at myself and ask hard questions. What am I not doing? What am I not willing to do? Am I committed? Will I persevere?
Over the years of knowing hundreds of small business people, I’ve learned that those who fail very rarely share something they learned about themselves. Usually it’s, my partners or I ran out of money or no one appreciated…. etc. Rarely do I hear them say, “I didn’t learn to manage people,” or “I was terrible at handling money,” or “I really discovered I hated that type of business.” The successful ones learned those lessons. They admitted to their ‘lack’ and learned what they needed to move forward.
There is something that tugs at me when I read Atlas Shrugged. Something very personal, very deep in the gut. I struggle with it every time. It is not so much about any perceived lack of success on my part. It is about my lack of commitment – to myself, my lack of mission, my lack of perseverance. To those character flaws I return to read more about John Galt and to shore up my shortcomings. I return to the book for a dose of energy, a possibility bigger than me, reasons to keep moving forward, and yes – for HOPE!
As an aside, there is a movie in production based on this book. Nothing short of amazing. It’s a huge book with themes that are challenging to tie together. Part 1 and 2 have been released. Part 3 comes out this September. I look forward to it with excitement. I’ve been relatively pleased with the first two parts. In part 3 we will be introduced to John Galt. I know that every reader has their mental image of this hero. I hope the movie lives up to mine.
If you’re so inclined, you can learn more about it by CLICKING HERE.
To your success… whatever you choose… give it your best!