“There are few virtues more important than independence. Independence is a requirement for leading your own life.” – Scott Young
I love the fourth of July! I loved it more as a kid, because I got to march in the town parade in my baseball uniform – a proud moment. As I was ‘noodling’ what to write, I was thinking about trying to connect the celebration of the fourth (our independence as a country), it’s importance to us as individuals, and leadership. You be the judge how I did. Regardless, I hope all of us will reflect on what our independence as a nation means to us individually. (I think sometimes we forget that much of the world lives in some form of totalitarian government that restricts freedom and independence.) For me, despite the ‘warts’ of this nation, I would live nowhere else.
As the lazy, crazy days of summer roll along, I hope you will find enjoyment doing your favorite ‘summer’ things and perhaps slow the pace just enough to savor the fun, food, and weather of summer.
As always, thank you to those of you who provide me feedback. It is always helpful and appreciated.
Do your best work and be well.
Independence and Leadership
Independence and freedom seem to be an integral part of our vocabulary as Americans. Indeed, they are an integral part of our culture. When I’m doing a ‘lunch and learn’ about coaching your children, the number one thing that parents express that they want for their children is, “for them to be happy and independent.”
We relish our independence as humans. While we are built to live in community, we love the moments when we can do what we want when we want it. Woven into our fabric is the ability as Americans to do “anything we want” and have our hard work, determination, and ingenuity enable us to reach our goals. (We can argue later where there has been ‘erosion’ of the ability for all of us to do “anything we want.”)
Our own independence is critical to how we live and experience our lives. As chronicled in the article at the end of this column (link is under “Of Interest”), there are eight key reasons for us to develop our independence:
- Personal independence boosts our confidence
- Less reliance on others
- Emotional independence reduces stress and promotes happiness
- Financial independence means freedom and sense of accomplishment
- Better decision-making
- Personal improvement and creativity
- Broader horizons
- Self-value and self-esteem
Where are you with your ‘independence?”
How does independence show up at work? I would suggest in several ways.
- We want people to be self-accountable and self-responsible – we want them to be able to function independently and do their job responsibly.
- We often have a rating category on our performance reviews about “working independently.” We value that in people.
- Even when we work as teams, we often have singular responsibility for a portion of the work being done. In creative situations, outside of brainstorming as a group, we will ‘incubate’ ideas in our own ‘quietness.’
- In the modern work world, things move with such speed that we are reliant on good decisions being made at the lowest levels of the organization in order for the organization to function as efficiently as it needs to. While how decisions are made is different, we have always been reliant on everyone doing their job.
- To become a successful leader, we must first do the ‘inside’ work of developing ourselves (independent work) – our ability to know ourselves, and how we present the best version of ourselves in multiple situations. We must develop our skills, knowledge, and ability to apply what we learn – build our credibility. In other words, our ability as a leader is initially crafted in the ‘quietness’ of our own independence.
- The traditional sense of ‘work’ is changing. Companies, in order to cut labor cost will hire independent contractors to fulfill certain roles.
- People are choosing to become more ‘independent’ in relation to their work. This independence affords them more freedom in where they work and the work they choose. Older independents often do very well because of their established networks.
- Many ‘independents’ report great satisfaction in their ability to do well and to feel that their life is more fulfilled (i.e., their sense of work-life balance is much better).
Independence/freedom is something not only key as we think about the development of this nation, but it is critical to us personally and in the work we do. Enjoy your 4th, and I hope you see how interwoven independence is in our country, and in ourselves.
To a better you…
Read about why being more independent is critical to your life.