“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” Ayn Rand
I think I’ve always said things like this to myself as I was growing up. Starting in my teens or maybe sooner, it was mostly out of contempt for adults (or my brother) telling me what to do. Those who know me won’t find this surprising.
Now, as a woman in her 40’s with an incredible modern family and 5 children I can claim, I have certainly grown out of that phase and am hungry for wisdom and perspective from others. I now know that I will never be the smartest, the savviest, or the most experienced business person in the room. It’s a hard pill to swallow coming to that realization.
So, today this particular quote has a very different meaning for me. It resonates with my drive and work ethic and lives in a place of passion and hunger to be the best and most successful by expressing gratitude for every opportunity, building relationships, connecting with like-minded peers, and being respectful of others time.
My original exposure to Ayn Rand was during a meeting where a business partner brought up the work Atlas Shrugged in relation to his struggle to finding more qualified staff to support his operations. I was intrigued by the heroine he described to me and quickly ordered a set of books that included both Atlas Shrugged as well as The Fountainhead. I am still working through both of them, but I find myself highlighting impactful messages.
Ayn Rand never actually spoke or wrote these exact words. They are attributed to her from this passage from her 1943 novel The Fountainhead. Here’s the passage it ties back to:
An hour ago the Dean had wished that this interview would proceed as calmly as possible. Now he wished that Roark would display some emotion; it seemed unnatural for him to be so quietly natural in the circumstances.
“Do you mean to tell me that you’re thinking seriously of building that way, when and if you are an architect?”
“My dear fellow, who will let you?”
“That’s not the point. The point is, who will stop me?”
This quote will continue to live in my mind’s eye as a reminder that our passion and excitement is never squandered. It is up to you and only you to define your path and to keep moving forward. It will always continue to feed the desire to keep learning and growing which will be the guide to the most successful days ahead.