As infants, we mew and cry, wave our arms and make it abundantly clear that we are utterly dependent on our carers. This is as it should be since, after all, it is true.
As we grow we start to assert our independence. We want to do only we what have chosen to do, do it our way, and in our own time.
Of course, not everyone even makes it that far.
Despite the semblance of independence, many remain just as dependent as the infants they used to be. Dependent on parents, lovers, bosses, government and more. Sure, they might dress well and sound the part, but if you read their Facebook comments, complaints and laments it becomes quite clear that they are still just mewing and crying, waving their arms and waiting for others to solve the problems of the world. The wait for handouts in the form of money, work, opportunity, validation and more.
Others manage to climb out of that type of dependence but get stuck at independence. To read the many self-help novels that stack our digital shelves you’d be forgiven for believing that independence is the ultimate goal – that working on myself until I reach the pinnacle of success is the best that life has to offer.
It’s true, of course, that improvement is an important part of our maturity. Getting better, stronger, smarter, more informed, articulate and spiritually aware today than we were yesterday is an essential and meaningful activity of any normally functioning adult who desires a modicum of satisfaction.
But independence has its limits – after all, independence is only ever about ourselves. It’s about my goals, my life, my money, my brain, my achievement, my job. An over-the-top focus on ourselves, our own needs and our own success is usually a good ticket to a crisis.
Truly, a focus solely on independence isn’t the highest and best use of our gifts and talents.
Instead, we receive so that we can give. Our striving and success, our achievement and talent, our work and our reward are ours so that we can give to others. We master our craft not only because it is fulfilling in itself but also because it allows us to commit to more next time. We strive for excellence not just because that is right but because
With these things, we know that we can be depended upon. We can say “yes I can help with that” more often, knowing that we can. We have integrity and commitment, energy and the power to deliver on our promises. We say what we mean and we do what we say.
We start utterly dependent, needing others for everything.
We climb to independence, largely able to function for ourselves.
But our goal is to be dependable, not just functioning for ourselves but for others too.
So which are you?