Interdependence Day

July 4th. Independence Day.
True freedom is found not in independence, but mutual interdependence. Independence says, “I don’t need anyone else.” Interdependence says, “we need each other.”
Let’s celebrate Interdependence Day!

We call this day “Independence Day”, but that is really a misnomer. While we may have been claiming our political freedom and independence from Britain, we have never truly been independent from them, or any number of other nations and people groups. This “freedom” would not have been possible without significant aid from the French. Treaties are a formal way that as a nation we say, “We need to cooperate and work together to accomplish our common goals, and this also helps us advance our own particular aspirations.” Where is the independence in this? The very popular phrase: “Freedom isn’t free” illustrates this point. My freedom and yours, our “independence” depends upon the contributions made by others, thus demonstrating it to not be independence at all. (You might also check out this on HuffPost.)

The myth of independence has long been a part of the “American ethos”, often with quite destructive results. We have never accomplished any great feat, or overcome any obstacle, without collaborative alliances and partnerships. Why then do we persist in our illusion that we are independent? And if as a nation we are “independent”, how much more do we as individuals, families and communities struggle because of our acceptance of this falsehood. What individual ever accomplished anything without the aid of others? No one. From the nurture and support we receive in childhood, to those who educate us, to the resources and advantages provided in our communities by public and private entities, we are surrounded by sources of support upon which we depend for our very survival, not to mention our ability to thrive and have a vital life.

So perhaps today, as we celebrate what is truly great about this country, we might  also pause to give thanks to all those who helped along the way. We might also consider the places where we have failed, and in the process hurt others and ourselves, even to future generations. Consider the inebriated person who leaves the bar, insisting that she is OK to drive, refusing help from a friend or a cab. I suggest that we often are drunk on our own ego, thinking that we can get along without the help of others – lying to ourselves, and potentially doing great damage.

Today, I’m choosing to celebrate Interdependence Day. Perhaps I’ll even make it a theme for my life and work over this next year. I’ll ask myself, “Upon whom will I, can I, depend today? And who is depending on me? Who’s contributions have enabled me to get to where I am? Where are my Interdependent Connections?” I suspect this shift in perspective can have a dramatic effect on how I view and live in the world and relate to others. I’d love for you to also make the journey and join the conversation with me.

Closing the deal – taking or giving?

Do you have trouble asking for things? Many people I know do, including myself. We are taught to be independent and self-sufficient.

“Stand on your own two feet. Don’t be a burden. Never ask others to do for you what you can do for yourself.”

That is all useful advice. Certainly we know and see people who could stand to take that counsel more frequently. Yet this same sage wisdom becomes a stumbling block for some of us in business and in life. The truth is, we need each other to help us meet any number necessities in our lives. Recognizing this fact will help us find harmony in our dealings with others.

Where in your life do you need to “close the deal?” It may be quite literally, in a business conversation where you are offering a product or service to a potential customer. It may be that you are raising funds for a non-profit or other important charity cause. Perhaps you are seeking to take an intimate relationship to the next level. Unless you are taking advantage of someone, the arrangement is imbalanced win-lose setup, then why are you hesitant to “ask for the sale”? Are you taking, or are you giving?

Clearly, if you are winning and the other person is loosing, then being embarrassed to push that deal makes sense. Better to structure a different deal that is win-win, or just walk away. If you are on the losing end, then it also makes sense to be uncomfortable.

When you arrive at a win-win situation, then it only makes sense to move forward to close the deal. One way to take some of the pressure off is to ask the other person, “What gain do you see for yourself in this situation?” That way, they are making the argument for you. You also discover what they see that you missed, and what you see that they don’t, so that you can offer further clarification.

At the end of the day, if you believe that you have a quality product or service, and are asking a fair price, then be proud to say so. If they don’t agree, find out why – you may learn some very important lessons for future development or marketing in your business. Or you may just conclude that this is not a good match, in which case thank them for their time, offer to direct them to someone else who can meet their need, and then ask for any referrals of future business they might send your way.

The right deal will be win-win, both parties are taking and giving in a fair exchange of goods, services, time, energy, and money. And all parties with integrity will walk away satisfied.

Tell us about a time when you struggled with this, and how you worked through it.