The Challenge of Interdependence Day


How ’bout them fireworks?


During a recent client presentation, I shared a great deal of information with a stellar group of professionals in the financial services arena. About half-way through my presentation, I made a reference to a lesson I learned many years ago when I worked for a large financial institution. Here and there, words and phrases that have become a part of my professional advisory process found their way into the conversation. And then it occurred to me. Those ideas were certainly the result of 25 years of my own personal professional experiences, but also the experiences of my former colleagues, managers, and professors.

As a consultant, I have always prided myself on my ability to provide fiercely independent analysis and direction to our clients. And as an American, I am independent down to my red, white, and blue core, right?

But in reality, I’m neither a rock nor an island. From the educators that gave me the facts and insight that opened my eyes to the world of economics, to the lessons I learned when I first started out in the banking business, to the current projects I am currently leading, I’ve learned something new along every step of the journey with the help of so many different people.

So, on this Independence Day 2014, I challenge you to go beyond independence. I call on all those that believe that independence is the ultimate to grab a pencil and piece of paper and follow along. Or not. You are, after all, free to do as you please. Well, I say that knowing there are provisos, and, of course, limitations.

Force is never forceful

Independence is the direct result of having, on prior occasion, terrible dependence on some other force, be it voluntarily or involuntarily. Many have come to understand, unfortunately much later than they would prefer, that force is not forceful. That is, force cannot make a person do what they do not want to do. So, be it with ourselves, our spouses, our children, or our colleagues, force cannot lead to a positive and replicable outcome: trust. The same applies to systems-level thinking, such as religion, political and governmental systems, and social structures. Force does not work. In my readings of late, this concept often crosses my path.

In the graphic below, with force, we seek to contain a person to inside the circle. That simply will not work.


Independent living demands all of you

Independence and freedom are oftentimes linked to one another. The reality is that both require a great deal from the individual. And both of them require a great deal of focus on your duty to yourself, your family, your community, and then, ultimately, to all beings. Independence comes when you are able to think for yourself, create a new paradigm, and enliven your intellect. It does not mean that you can do whatever you want. For doing whatever you want will ultimately force someone else to live by that paradigm, which we decided is not forceful and is certainly not helpful.

Independence means to move outside your circle, but it still places the focus on person #1 in your life, you.

Interdependent thinking challenges you to go beyond

Change the arc of independence and challenge yourself to think interdependently. Dr. Covey spoke of interdependence in his classic, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. On this Independence Day 2014, do not think solely on the independent nature of those around you. Thank those around you and honor those that have gone before you for they have provided a  great deal of advantage in the life you lead. More importantly, strive to leverage your independence to advance an organization, a nation, and a planet by employing a culture of interdependence. Go beyond yourself.

Happy Independence Day!

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