I’m a worry wart. One of the ways I manage my concerns is to make lists. As I process opportunities and problems, I find myself making lists of pros, cons, impacts and solutions. Those lists sometimes morph into content we then use for courses, blogs, articles, live streams, and more.
So, I’ve decided to hatch something called “Jen’s 10” where I share my “random” lists with you. This inaugural Jen’s 10 will explore ten ways that independence can go too far. Yes, that’s right. While I love our nation’s independence and the hard-fought freedoms we enjoy, my life’s work has been bringing unity to fractured groups, creating high functioning teams with the goal of accomplishing amazing results. While the concept of independence is important, it can give us a false sense that we’re on our own and that our actions don’t have consequences for us or for others. But they always do.
So, here are ten ways that independence can go too far:
1) Being completely independent can be lonely. There is nothing better than having love in your life, someone to come home to, to share your hopes and dreams with, to have a sounding board in your business, to feel like others are supporting your actions and cheering you on. Being a lone wolf can make us feel isolated and very alone.
2) Choosing my independent needs over those of others can be selfish. When I value my goals and objectives over yours, or over those of our team, I begin to make decisions that boost my ego, pocketbook, or leisure versus sharing those things with others. Ultimately, this “self-first” approach leads to distrust and disengagement in my relationships.
3) Two (or more) heads are better than one. When I try to independently strategize, reason, or decide something without the input of others, I’m less likely to produce the best plan or outcome. Within my team, and within my various communities, there are always people who have more experience and diverse perspectives that can lead to better solutions overall.
4) When I work independently, I lose my leverage. The concept of leverage is having each person work at their highest and best use. When I leverage, I strive to work on things that stretch my skills, while delegating work to others that would be easier for me, but a stretch for them. Leverage is a critical strategy to drive profits, having the highest cost people doing the highest value work. When I choose to work alone and don’t build a team, avoiding delegation or inclusion, I limit my growth, the growth of others and the growth of profits.
5) Being too independent can create fragility. If I don’t leverage my work, and include others in my knowledge, client conversations, engagements or personal details, I leave myself and others vulnerable. Without this inclusion and teamwork, there isn’t anyone to ably back me up on vacation, when I’m sick, or if real disaster strikes. A perfect example of this is a sole practitioner who doesn’t put a practice continuity plan in place with a competing firm, leaving their clients vulnerable to disruption if they are suddenly unavailable. Not sharing your work with your partners, administrators, and staff leaves everyone in a precarious place.
6) Independence keeps us small. I started ConvergenceCoaching over 23 years ago and I was ready to manage something small, compared to what I’d been managing before. But I soon realized that I wasn’t going to be able to serve the needs of my marketplace and develop my own skills unless I brought others in, leveraged the work, and included others in all aspects of my work. Some of us think we have to “go it alone” to maximize our experience and independence, but the opposite is true. Without relying on others, my growth, and the growth of the business is limited.
7) Going it alone makes it hard to evolve. At some point, if I’m not asking for advice and help from others or I’m not leveraging my work to free up my time for learning and growth, my personal development and the evolution of my skills and processes stops. Learning comes from my willingness to hear the ideas of others, especially when those ideas don’t align with what I’ve believed previously or are new methods I haven’t been exposed to before. When I open myself up to the ideas of others, my mental boundaries and possibilities expand.
8) Independence, when taken too far, is no fun. There is nothing better than having fun, telling stories and laughing with friends, colleagues or loved ones who are close collaborators who have had inter-dependent experiences. When I don’t let people in, and I don’t share myself and my blessings with others, I limit my joy.
9) There can be no rest for the independent weary. When I battle independently every day without the support of others and the safety net of community, I don’t feel like I can let up, leading to overwhelm and burn out. When I allow myself to lean on you, or lean on others, I give myself permission to sometimes find rest and renewal.
10) There is real strength in numbers. Alone, we can do a little. Together, we can do a lot. Right now, our country is facing a number of serious issues. In my opinion, the greatest challenge we’re facing is a demographic shift that will ultimately produce a next-level shortage of working-age people over the next decade. This could result in our country’s dependence on outside resources to meet our needs and could shift the balance of economic power, reducing our independence as a nation. Instead of pulling together, we’re falling into “divide and conquer” behavior, fighting each other for our own personal agendas and selfish interest. At this stage in our nation’s history, standing our individual ground instead of unifying to solve our most significant issues feels like a massive mistake.
What do you think of this issue of too much independence? How can we maintain our individuality and freedom, yet still gain the tremendous benefits of unity and collaboration – at work, at home and in our communities? I’d love to hear your thoughts.