Going it Alone... or not. - Is Independence a Strength or a Weakness?

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This past month has been very thought provoking for me in a number of ways. My experiences have had me thinking a lot about our dominant culture and the stories it tells us. And how it’s a little to one extreme, but the other extreme isn’t so good either, though some place in the middle is pretty nice. I hope to have more thoughts come out of my experiences this past month, and this is the nugget I can articulate so far.

I’ve noticed our dominant culture tells us a story about independence. I’ve also being experiencing truths: I am in business by myself, and yet I am not alone. I am independent and yet interdependent. I’ve deeply appreciated the people in my life, and at the same time I’ve been tempted to shrink back from those people and communities. Blind independence has it’s weaknesses, so it’s worth unpacking further.

Independence: the good, the bad, the ugly

Society tells us that we should be independent. That accomplishments belong to an individual, and homes are filled by a nuclear family. While there is value in being non-dependent, it's counter to our nature to ignore interdependence in favor of independence. We're a pack animal. We form communities, cities, societies and nations because we understand that we are all linked, and that by being linked we are stronger. Capitalism wants us to believe that the only option is a rigid adherence to independence. In truth this is a toxic method that only serves to divide us so that we are easier to exploit.

Independence and Starting a Business

Our society's emphasis on independence leads many starting businesses to believe they have to "go it alone," but this is impossible and inadvisable. It's impossible because by definition a business makes a product or service available to others - customers. A business cannot exist in a vacuum, it needs customers. Customers aren't all strangers; many are our friends, our family, our community.

Furthermore our community doesn't only support us by being customers. There are many ways to support a new business, and the owner of that business. Friends and loved ones help support our mental fortitude to keep going by listening to our struggles, validating them, and offering solutions if one exists. Loved ones might also support us in keeping a roof over our heads while we grow the business.

Interdependence and Asking for Help

I am not immune from the tendency to hang my head and say "I had to ask for help." Yet I know that there is actually no shame in asking for help. Asking for help is a strength. It is one way of being *resourceful.* Being resourceful isn't just duct tape and superglue, and nor is it all about pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. It's also about remembering that Great Aunt Gertrude was always trying to hand you money and has always wanted you to manifest your dreams. It's also about sharing what's going on for you; being vulnerable so that someone else can make a connection that may be fruitful. Fruitful solutions don't come from sitting alone wracking your brain. Hard work is part of the equation, but the other part of the equation is being connected to others and keeping energy moving through those connections.

Connection

I believe connection is a fundamental need of all people. And I see a lot of suffering in the world where people are, at the heart of the issue, in desperate need of connection. If you believe these things too, then a reasonable course of action would be to seek connection at every opportunity and that includes asking for help. If you believe as I do, then tune out the societal messages about independence and seek connection at every turn.

Connect with me by sharing your thoughts in the comments!