Interdependence vs. Independence Reconsidered


Interdependence versus Independence                                    

Interdependence is a concept that is so important, and so complex, that I have been putting off writing this post for quite awhile, because I wanted to do it justice. Independence, financial and otherwise, has been an ideal of mine for decades. Naively, I thought that freedom comes from “independence.” The dream of passive residual income actually became a reality for me for long periods of time. But in hindsight I realize that it was interdependence, not independence, that provided financial “independence.”

For 35 years I have chosen self-employment, “the road less traveled by,” in pursuit of freedom. In the words of Frank Sinatra’s song, “I did it my way!”  “Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew, when I bit off more than I could chew…” I discovered the meaning of these words from Janis Joplin’s song, Me and Bobby McGee: “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

In a previous post I broached the subject of Interdependent Relationships. Dr. Stephen R. Covey, in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote: “Independent thinking alone is not suited to interdependent reality. Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won’t be good leaders or team players. They’re not coming from the paradigm of interdependence necessary to succeed in marriage, family, or organizational reality.”

In his blog on March 19, 2009, during the great recession, Dr. Covey wrote a post on  Managing Fear and Insecurity:

Much of our world is gripped with a sense of fear and insecurity—fear of losing jobs, homes, or our future. In such a state of insecurity and vulnerability, it is easy to see why people might resign to being in survival mode and looking out only for themselves, at home, at work or in the community. In this environment people tend to respond by being more and more independent. The mindset becomes: “I’m going to focus on ‘me and mine.’

Certainly, independence is vital; however, the problem is that we live in an interdependent reality. Our most important work, the problems we hope to solve or the opportunities we hope to realize require working and collaborating with other people in a high-trust, synergistic way—whether at home or at work. Having an interdependent mindset, skills and tools are vital, especially now as we work through challenges unlike anything most of us have ever seen in our life time.

The principles found in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People are all about helping people learn how to understand and build interdependence.

In the movie Funny Girl, Barbara Streisand asserted in song that “people who need people” — that is, people who love others and are not emotionally cut off from them — are the “luckiest people in the world.” Lovers need lovers.  I have been thinking of many others, besides lovers, who need other people.

Examples of Interdependent Relationships

Entrepreneurs need capital and capitalists need investments. Landlords and tenants need each other. Doctors need patients who need doctors. Teachers need students and vice versa. “Issue number one” in American politics in 2011 is “Jobs.” Employees need employers who need employees.  Sellers of houses need buyers who need houses. Leaders need followers who need leaders. In network marketing organizations, the “downline” need “upline” for training and support and assistance with presentations. Upline leaders need downline followers to expand their network.

It is an understatement to say that the internet is full of examples of synergy and leverage. The image above is from the Interdependence Project blog. What are YOUR THOUGHTS about interdependence vs. independence? Please share your comments below. (Bloggers need comment love 😉

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3 Responses to "Interdependence vs. Independence Reconsidered"

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