Known to the wise, Abraham, Buddha, Confucius, and Jesus understood the underlying connectedness of all humanity. Their admonitions to us contain high awareness of our human interdependence.
So when you think about it, you start to discover that all accomplishment, all achievement, all success, all progress that we as human beings have experienced is a result of our interdependence with others! A tremendous amount of support surrounds us in all areas of our lives; our families, our friends, our business colleagues, our partnerships, our educators, our children, our community, our state, our country, our world are visible support structures.
While the list of this interdependent support goes on, as individuals we often fail to realize that independence is a direct result of our interdependence and cooperation with others. We cannot truly become independent without the help of others!
How do we achieve independence? We must learn to ask for this help!
Independence is achieved through interdependent associations when people are united together to support each other: mentoring, coaching, sharing resources and referrals, working together toward common objectives, and helping in numerous ways. There are endless examples of how our interdependence affects each of us every day. While for many of us there is a higher force providing invisible support, allow me to go ahead and provide examples of invisible support from our everyday environment.
Before we wake up in the morning, there’s someone at the electric company making sure our lights will go on when we flip the switch. The water company pumps and stores water waiting for our beckoning call at the faucet. Farmers and truckers are growing and transporting food products to our local grocer who in turn, makes these products available to our community, our families and to us. Oil companies are drilling oil from around the world and shipping the oil to our neighborhoods allowing us the freedom to drive our cars when and where we choose.
There are countless more examples that demonstrate that almost every action we take throughout our day has visible and invisible support structures of interdependent relationships.
One of the central features of relationships then is our awareness of interdependence. We move from seeing ourselves as separate from one another, to seeing ourselves as connected and interdependent with one another.
A process of interdependence allows us, as individuals to be STRONG enough to be dependent when new behaviors, new skills, and new learning are required. When we are able to do this in an interdependent world, we move toward independence and self-reliance.
When interdependent behavior is high, individuals are making connections continuously, providing help and asking for help. Individuals are connecting others to others—and therefore strengthening connections in a web of relationship that far exceeds you and me.
When independent behavior is high, individuals are focusing on their individual success and are more apt to be self sufficient and self-reliant. Overly independent, individuals may not make the connections they need to continue to grow personally and professionally or to contribute to the success of others.
When interdependence is practiced and embraced, independence is a natural product. Individuals are able to get needed support and better move in relationship with the world. Recognizing that there is a time for dependence allows us to move to full potential by first suspending our independence. For many of us, this is a very vulnerable place. Becoming vulnerable in all aspects of our lives will help us ask for the help we need, and to better move easily in and out of relationship as we develop new and untested processes.
Fostering an interdependent environment creates an incredible web of support that is transformative to one’s life and to the world!
Consider this three-part process that moves us more deeply into strengthening interdependent relationships.
Cooperative relating is the integration of independence and cooperation.
Mutual dependence takes place when we embrace this in our thinking and interactions: I need you and you need me. We act or work together, cooperating to achieve what both parties need/want. We own collectively, and share in the risks and the benefits, or experience the joy of helping another reach another level. In a truly cooperative relationship, this basic dynamic is extended repeatedly. Cooperative partners bring to light what is possible together.
Fostering an interdependent environment creates an incredible web of support that is transformative!
This strategy helps reinforce the awareness that we do not come to any situation alone. We never have, and we never will. Visible and invisible support systems are all around us. We help others and we are helped by others. Understanding this, we are better able to look at each other in a way that is relational, experience joy and satisfaction, identify what we need in a given situation, and better help and support another. We see how our interdependence strengthens the ability to be independent. Interdependence ultimately results in liberation: the ability to be self sufficient, and to contribute to the world. The next strategy will help you focus your attention and intention on purposeful listening with heart and mind.
This month’s "Thinking Point" for connecting forward: What support do you currently need to move you toward achieving the objective you have set for yourself?