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July 3, 2014
Celebrate Our Country's Independence... and Your Own Dependence!

Ah, 4th of July. It's a day to celebrate the independence of our country. We are no longer dependent.

We live in a society that values independence so much, that we see any kind of dependence as a weakness. In our me-me-me culture, we believe that maturity and self-sufficiency are one and the same.

If we do feel dependent on another human being, we certainly try to hide that fact from the rest of the world. Especially if we're dependent on our colleagues at work. Gasp!

The problem is, though, that by our very nature, we are interdependent humans. And when it comes to creative energy, brainstorming with our colleagues has both psychological and professional benefits. 

When we we get together with others, complementary character traits and strengths make each of us more whole, and we all become more than the sum of those elements. We learn, we feel a part of and we become stronger, not weaker.

According to research, we sometimes come up with better ideas on our own, versus collaborative brainstorming in a group setting. But some psychologists say there is a price to pay for that, and that brainstorming can be accomplished in more productive ways: We can contemplate ideas on our own, then come together to combine them.

Associative computer simulations of group idea generation show that groups can actually come up with more complex and evolved ideas than individuals can come up with. Exchanging ideas advances and combines all those ideas.

But there are other ways we can exercise our dependence. We can seek feedback on a project already completed; we can each take on one piece of the puzzle and work on that independently, coming together at the end of the process; or we can each work on a different level of the goal at hand.

Whatever the method, in the end, the lone wolf who tries to go it on his own, exercising his (or her) incredible independence, misses out on many opportunities for joy, success and advancement.

So celebrate our country's independence tomorrow (and all weekend long!), but celebrate your inherently human dependence as well. You supply the fireworks and potato salad, but let someone else bring the matches and forks.

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Suzanne Ritchie is an independent career coach who specializes in helping her clients make the move into technical and marketing jobs.
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