Dependence. It’s a word that makes me shudder. It conjures up images of the once virile superhero, Christopher Reeves, reduced to a quadriplegic dependence on others for even his most basic needs. It brings remembrances of my barely 60 year old mother having to be spoon‐fed her soft lunch because of the ravage of Alzheimer’s disease. It revives memories of the smothering friendship, once emotionally healthy, deteriorating into a noxious dependency used to bolster each other’s self esteem to validate our worth.
Independence. It’s a word that I easily espouse for I am a fiercely independent woman. Jobs where I have had to toe the line have proven difficult and often terminated prematurely. I become like a once wild lion now caged. I am a pioneer and a starter. This entrepreneurial spirit is a part of my DNA, nurtured and rewarded from the cradle. My personality spurs me to get things done, quickly and efficiently. Being a networker, I am attentive to people around me who can contribute to the success of the project. I make shrewd decisions as to who to involve based upon their usefulness. In my business world, my independence only gives way to those who have proven themselves supportive to my vision without cramping my style.
Recently, my mentor posed a question that caused me to bristle. It was this: “Who do you depend on?” My initial response was “No one”. Upon reflection though, I admitted my dependence on those who could help me advance my initiatives. But this sage, to whom I have given permission to prod beneath my veneer, perceived that I was keeping humanity and deity at bay, and detected the weakness it presented to my character. What ensued was a conquest to understand the meaning of healthy interdependence, why I needed to foster interdependence, and what that would look like for a staunch independent entrepreneurial type like me.
The journey started by going to my closest friends, not business associates, and asking them this question: “How do you perceive that I am dependent or needy of you?” I had idealistically envisioned that their responses would be complimentary and fraternal. In actuality, their responses were damning. The vast majority of them saw me as being so strongly independent that I make life happen on my own. It was not colleagues but friends that saw that people were allowed into my life based on their usefulness rather than their humanity. Although I was surrounded by lots of people, I had to evaluate if anyone was making it past the front door of my life, let alone to meander with me through my emotional garden? Again, the evidence was damning.
Having discovered something about myself that was crippling the development of my soul, I knew it would not be long before it started to also negatively impact my business. I firmly believe that we are not created as compartmentalized beings. What happens in one area of my life will impact other areas as well.
I realized anew that in my attempts to be strong and independent, I had become fortified. My independence had become a threat to emotional and spiritual health and ultimately the health of my business. Despite my ongoing aversion with dependence, I more fully understand my need to open my heart and allow people to speak into my life.
It is in the arena of healthy interdependence that my perspectives will be sharpened, reshaped and refined. Authenticity fosters accountability. Things kept in the solitude of independence risk derailment. The ancient wisdom of King Solomon states “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”2 It is in the milieu of strong interdependence that life‐giving change is spawned.
Dependence can stifle. Independence can isolate. Neither end of the spectrum is good. To reach my fullest potential as the business woman God created and purposed for me, I must become interdependent. I must surround myself with true sojourners, who give more than platitudes. I must invite different perspectives, authenticity and accountability. The people with whom I become interdependent will be the ones that I allow past the front door of my life and welcome into my emotional garden. Then I will harvest the benefits in my personal life and my business.
Rosemary Flaaten’s successful book, A Woman and Her Relationships helps women process their outside-of- work relationships, so now she’s delving into these 9-5 relationships in A Woman and Her Workplace. Her Relationships book won The Word Guild Award, which is Canada’s top Christian literary honor. A dynamic speaker—Rosemary challenges women of all professions to view their work as a calling and their workplaces as opportunities to live out Christ’s love. Rosemary lives with her husband and three children in Calgary, Canada