The picture above is from Matt Hardings travels around the world. Matt happens to live in my home town; Seattle . Matt's journey of traveling the world,connecting and dancing with people all over the globe provides a visual example of the difference between independence and interdependence
Read about Matt at www.wherethehellismatt.com
Independence or Interdependence?
Independence is defined as the freedom from control, influence, support, aid or the like of others. Whereas, interdependence is defined as a mutual, reciprocal relationship between two independent entities.
Last night I picked up a copy of the business bestseller, Never Eat Alone. The premise; that relationships and people are the key to life as well as success in business. As I put the book down at the end of the first five chapters, it dawned on me I had spent most of my early entrepreneural days falsely believing independence was the goal.
I realize now, early in my life I bought hook, line and sinker into the socialized balarkey, "If you want to be free you need to be INDEPENDENT." Or maybe I just popped out of the womb crying; "I must do it on my own, I can do it on my own, I'm on my own. If I do it alone… I am …"
Looking back I think it was my time in Russia that cemented my early socialization and false beliefs about independence and freedom. These two; Independence and freedom became correlated for me in 1980 when I studied abroad at the University of Kobenhaven and then traveled to Russia. I was so impacted by my time in this third world country called Super Power I nearly changed my name to freedom on my return home to the states. Having lived abroad for nearly a year in both a socialist and communist country I found myself mistakenly believing that the key to one's freedom was independence. I struggled to make peace with the restrictive hopelessness I had encountered on the streets of Moscow in 1984. I believed the only way to remain free was to stay clear of influence or control by others and in my thinking I inextricably and incorrectly linked freedom to being independent.
For most of my life I've been a freedom junkie. Unfortunately it's mostly meant; not controlled versus free to connect or relate. You see a vital, two way, reciprocal and mutually beneficial connection and relationship does not fear control, influence or intermingling of voices. I had no idea that my niave understanding of freedom had seeded a life virus that created error messages every time I engaged interdependently.
Although a born leader and natural 'people person' my independent nature did not always lend itself to joining hands and collaborating. After falling down in my leadership efforts on more than one occassion I started to realize; I was the issue. Although, I helped everyone connect, grow and become it was almost impossible for me to ask for help or resources and even less likely I would accept help once it was extended. False beliefs kept me from receiving in mutually reciprocal give and takes afraid I would somehow compromise my freedom…
In the video Where the Hell is Matt, we see a few clips of Matt dancing alone(independent) and then half way thru the video Matt is joined by young people from around the globe. The synergy, the vitality of independent people joining together is a visual representation of interdependence.
In Keith Ferrazzi's book Never Eat ALone I was reminded of the simple truth; life is richer, business more successful when we develop genuine interdependent connections and relationships. Life is nothing more and relating nothing less than entering into a graceful dance of giving and receiving, of blessing and taking with one another.
I don't know about you but I love freedom; and from here on out when I think of freedom I'll envision Matt and his groupies dancing together; the interdependence it represents is a visual reminder for me to go out today; to give and receive without keeping score and to practice the art of relationships one person at a time…knowing that my most authentic freedom is enhanced not detracted by living interdependently.
Independent or Interdependent how are you leading, how are you living?
Interdependence…different than I thought…
With is a powerful Thing