Independence vs Interdependence?

By Caroline Hampson | Reflective

What's the true value of independence?

Earlier this week I came across a Tedx talk that knocked me for six. Caroline McHugh “The art of being yourself” - it gave me goosebumps. Her theory of the I-complex and interiority was so powerful to me. A few days later a good friend shared with me another Ted Talk;  Lorna Davis’ “A guide to collaborative leadership” where the principle of interdepence also made complete sense.

This then led to the questions..

  • Can you work on both?
  • Is one better than the other?

Then to the thought; Caroline Hampson you read and watch far too much of this stuff!  As frequently happens in these situations, the need to work through the complexity of it all kicked in

On my run this morning it all fell in place with such simplicity that I felt the need to share. The simplicity came from remembering the model from Stephen Covey, (I know, another theory) which takes us from dependence to independence and on to interdependence, and the realisation I had felt so obvious. We simply don’t spend enough time on building independence in its entirety.

We think we do, we move from a dependence on parents, to believing we’re independent adults and then work hard on the interdependence that we hear so much about in the workplace. But when you break independence down there are two core elements; Functional and Emotional. I realised I’ve spent years working on the functional independence, building skills and experience that enable me to support myself practically and financially, but have I given enough investment in emotional independence? Do I still worry about what people will think about the grey stripe that’s growing in my hair each day the hairdressers are shut in lockdown… do I measure what I say at times because I’m concerned if people don’t like the version of me that they see? I do. Emotional independence continually requires work.

So, here was my answer to the question interiority or interdependence? One is not better than the other, and you can work on both at the same time. But until you are independent functionally AND emotionally you will never be the very best interdependent version of yourself that you can be. To invest the time in developing your independence takes focus, it takes vulnerability and it needs you to believe in the value of self-compassion

That’s why on the Compassionate Cultures project Caroline Mabon and I are developing together we put self-compassion at the very start. To lead a compassionate culture, to show compassionate leadership, you first need to show yourself self-compassion

A question to reflect on today... 

When you feel most at ease, unstoppable, what are you doing, thinking and feeling? 

How can you use that understanding to help flick the switch in your head when feel ill at ease, awkward or less than amazing?

About the Author

Caroline is coach and facilitator who has been working with companies around the world for the past 10 years. She is passionate about helping people develop outstanding leadership.

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