In the United States, July 4th marks the celebration of Independence Day. This is typically a really fun day with lots of good food, camaraderie, and fireworks. On this particular Independence Day, I reflected that I used to think independence was the ultimate goal for a mature adult. However, as I have lived and learned, I now view interdependence as a more desirable goal.
Sure - it's wonderful to have independence in many areas of our lives. But it is a freeing experience to realize that we don't have to be responsible for every aspect of our lives and that sometimes we can and must depend on others. We can appreciate another person's skill to repair our car, handle our legal concerns, or whatever else we may need that we can't do or choose not to do. They, on the other hand, can benefit from our special talents. The other aspect of interdependence is the joy of teamwork, combining our efforts with those of others who may bring different and beneficial perspectives.
Wouldn't you know? This makes good business sense, too. In March, 2004 the delegates at the First World Conference on the Future of Work signed a “Declaration of Interdependence’ defining their vision for the future of work. They declared that, “Knowledge work, creativity, and collaborative relationships have become not just good ideas, but essential to competitive success. "
In the academic environment, some colleges and universities are formally structuring cooperative learning into their programs. In an article by Bobbette M. Morgan (College Student Journal, March 2003), she states that these changes are being made in response to the demand for graduates who can work in teams, communicate electronically, solve open-ended problems, and think critically.
For an inspiring look at interdependence, read the book The Bank Teller and Other Essays on the Politics of Meaning by Peter Gabel (Acada Books, 2000). In it he speaks of the interdependence of community, “the complete and authentic presence of individual human beings, one to another, inspiring each other with the courage to take the risk of being the source of each other's completion. "
"That which links us is that which ennobles us. "
- Stephen Mo Hanan
a) Take an honest look at your ‘to do’ list. Make a note of items that could be done better by someone else.
b) Take action by contacting people who are more suited to performing the tasks you marked. This might mean asking for an estimate for a particular job (like painting the garage).
c) What items on your list would be appropriate for a group effort? Ask your friends, colleagues, or others to help. Make it an enjoyable occasion.
d) Celebrate your move toward more interdependence! Reward yourself - or even better - reward the whole team!
Anna Watkins is a Career Coach with a special interest in group coaching and Master Mind Groups, networks of like-minded people who support and help each other stay on track with their life goals. You can learn more about the resources she offers through her website: http://www.one-e-anna.com