The Paradigm of Interdependence

. . .risk is at the heart of how people do and should think about trust, but that risk varies distinctly as the form of a relationship varies.. . . trust is accepting the risks associated with the type and depth of the interdependence inherent in a given relationship. Further, these basic relational forms are widely understood by members of a given culture, so mechanisms for trust management exist at individual, relational, and institutional levels in our society. . . trust most often is not an irrational act but a manageable act of faith in people, relationships, and social institutions. Therefore, when properly understood and managed, the risks associated with interdependence can be mitigated.

·        Blair H. Sheppard, The Grammars of Trust: a model and general implications (Academy of Management Review, 7/1998)

I have a friend whose son developed an avid interest in baseball. My friend wasn’t interested in baseball at all. But one summer, he took his son to see every major league team play one game. The trip took over six weeks and cost a great deal of money, but it became a powerful bonding experience in their relationship.

My friend was asked on his return, “Do you like baseball that much?”

“No,” he replied, “but I like my son that much.”

I have another friend, a college professor, who had a terrible relationship with his teenage son. This man’s entire life was essentially academic, and he felt his son was totally wasting his life by working with his hands instead of working to develop his mind. As a result, he was almost constantly on the boy’s back. . . The boy perceived the gestures as new forms of rejection, comparison, and judgment, and that precipitated huge [difficulties in their relationship]. The relationship was turning sour, and it was breaking the father’s heart.

One day I shared with him this principle of making what is important to the other person as important to you as the other person is to you. He took it deeply to heart. He engaged his son in a project to build a miniature Wall of China around their home. It was a consuming project, and they worked side by side on it for over a year and a half.

Through that bonding experience, the son moved through that phase in his life and into an increased desire to develop his mind. But the real benefit was what happened to the relationship. Instead of a sore spot, it became a source of joy and strength to both father and son.

Our tendency is to project out of our own autobiographies what we think other people want or need. We project our intentions on the behavior of others. We interpret what constitutes a [good relationship with others] based on our own needs and desires, either now or when we were at a similar age or stage in life. If they don’t interpret our effort as a [positive gesture], our tendency is to take it as a rejection of our well-intentioned effort and to give up.

The Golden Rule says to “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” While on the surface that could mean to do for them what you would like to have done for you, I think the more essential meaning is to understand them deeply as individuals, the way you would want to be understood, and then to treat them in terms of that understanding. As one successful parent said about raising children, “Treat them all the same by treating them differently.”

30 Keys to Great Relationships

·         Refrain from saying unkind or negative things

·         Exercise patience with others

·         Distinguish between the person and the behavior or performance

·         Perform anonymous service

·         Choose proactive responses

·         Keep the promises you make to others [and make only promises you can keep]

·         Focus on the circle of influence.

·         Live the law of love

·         Assume the best of others

·         Seek first to understand, then to be understood

·         Reward honest expressions or questions

·         Give an understanding response

·         If offended, take the initiative to clear it up

·         Admit your mistakes; apologize and ask forgiveness

·         Let arguments fly – out open windows

·         Deal with everyone one-on-one

·         Renew your commitment to things you have in common with others

·         Be influenced by the other person first

·         Accept the person and the situation

·         Prepare your mind and your heart before you prepare your speech

·         Avoid flight or fight; talk through your differences

·         Recognize and take time to teach

·         Agree on rules, expectations, limits, and consequences [ahead of time]

·         Don’t give up and don’t give in

·         Be there at the crossroads

·         Speak the languages of logic and of emotion

·         Delegate effectively

·         Involve people in meaningful projects

·         Train others in the law of the harvest (you reap what you sow)

·         Let natural consequences teach responsibility

-Steven R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems through penetrating insights and anecdotes. His writings encourage individuals to have fairness, integrity, honesty and human dignity – principles that give us the security to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.

Healing is peeling away the barriers of fear that keep us unaware of our true nature of love, peace, and rich interconnection with the web of life. Healing is the rediscovery of who we are and who we have always been.
·        Joan Borysenko

In a Wildlife Preserve outside Savannah, I experienced a scene like out of "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak. I went on a walk through a Spanish Moss-covered dense wood within the swamp. The unusual collection of birds sang a symphony as they gathered there on the sunny May morning. There were thick vines that had been hoisted into the air as the tree that was their host grew up, and reached for the sky. As I walked, I noted so many different shades of green. I had not realized that there could be so many striking yet subtle variations.

I noted the magnificence of a tree that had been nearly felled, but whose roots continued to grow in the ground. The tree continued to prosper and grow stronger, even as it tilted and leaned against its neighbors. That tree reminded me of the definition of community. We are a relational species. We naturally long for community, for connectedness with others. We need other people in order to grow. We need other people to do the work we were put on this planet to do.

Yet we also struggle to find our own way, be independent: strong, mighty, unstoppable. We start each new venture in a state of dependence. We cannot make it on our own at all, we rely on supports from those around us, as the tree did when it became uprooted in the first place. Perhaps the tree had been strong, and tall and self reliant at the time of "the accident".

Now if that tree had been human, it would have struggled, rebelled against its helpmates and said, "No, no, no, no, no, I know how to make these roots work again! I will struggle and strain and strive to become strong all on my own thank you! Your gifts and talents are not needed. I am the be-all end-all of trees! See? I can do this standing tall thing!"

It would have gotten stuck in independence.

Thankfully, nature is wiser than us humans. The trees around the fallen tree continued to care for and nurture that tree. Very importantly, the tree allowed itself to be supported by the other trees until it could grow again on its own. The fallen tree admitted it could not stand alone anymore, as its roots had been lifted from the soil. It needed assistance from its neighbors. As it healed and grew its roots more firmly in the soil, it once more could grow on its own. It maintained its bent, less than perfect perspective. That way, its lesson was so much stronger for the observers who would come along later and say, "WOW! That tree made it! Life will not be refused!"

That is, unless, we do not give it and each other license. License to thrive and grow even while bent and misshapen, perhaps not looking or seeming to be as we are expected to be. Humans could have made the mistake of uprooting or tearing down the imperfect tree. Humans can do the same with imperfect people. Even as we are all less than perfect, we oftentimes neglect to forgive others and ourselves.

One way to determine if we need a community is to ask the question: "Do I need these souls in order to grow?" Now, the fallen tree definitely was an example of "someone" needing others in order to grow. But the gift the fallen tree gave to the trees that supported it I imagine are multifold. Just like those of us who are given the privilege of weaving our tapestry with other people who have other special gifts, talents, abilities and yes: weaknesses. When we can fully support others in their imperfections as we recognize and allow others to do the same for us, we will become rooted more deeply and meaningfully than is imaginable.

Growing towards interdependence is magical, powerful and joyful. It is about greater depths of joy and understanding. It is about becoming all of what you were meant to become. In the end, the perceived weaknesses bring forth the greatest strengths. From where we are bent and "growing wrong" we offer the deepest well of inspiration. Of love. Of joy.

Look around the wildly growing swamps around you, whether they are skyscrapers, tract houses or wide open spaces. What are your surroundings speaking to you?

Listen. Become deeply rooted. Today.

-Contributed to Friday’s Inspiration by Julie Jordan Scott, a Life Purpose Coach who enjoys discovering what nature is speaking to her, following the lead of one of her favorite thinkers, Henry David Thoreau. She left her career as a government bureaucrat and built a successful home business in less than six months. She now combines mothering 4 children with inspiring people worldwide through her books, ezine, teaching and personal coaching. To contact Julie about complimentary coaching or living passionately through free email and teleclasses, visit her website at or email her at



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