That word is "mine."
As we work and acquire assets of various kinds, there's a tendency to credit ourselves for our successes and achievements. If we're generous by nature, we also may include at least some good luck and timely help from friends.
But all of that overlooks the obvious. Those of us who live in a free and open society owe a very large debt to our country as well.
To make that point I sometimes use the example of my son's success. I'm among the first to give him credit for hard work, a keen intellect, perseverance, a passion for technology and innovation, and a powerful analytical approach to work and life-all the characteristics we capitalists believe deserve reward.
But what if he'd been born in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan? Or in Darfur? There would have been no Microsoft, no Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
My son had the good fortune to be born in a society that values education, individual initiative, and freedom of thought and expression; one that offers its citizens a wide range of mechanisms for the benefit of the entrepreneur, from a working legal system to key financial services, including access to capital.
One reason our view of life can be pleasant and expressive today is that we stand on the shoulders of generations who invested in the common good and in our future as well as their present. There's no question that we've been given a lot. The question is about what we give back.
Which brings me to another, even more powerful four-letter word: Ours."
chapter from showing up for life by bill gates sr.
some of you may recognize where this photo was taken?