Risk Taking: Moving From Self-Sufficiency to Interdependence, and Back Again

Posted by Ann Deaton Share Your Voice


"The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of life is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give." ~ William Arthur Ward

I grew up self-sufficient. We had five kids in my family, busy parents, and plenty of challenges. By the time I was six and in first grade, I could make my own and my sisters’ school lunches. By the time I was 11, I could ride my bike to pick up my baby brother at the babysitter after I finished my school day. At 17, I  applied to college, found scholarships to support me, and became financially independent of my parents. For over three decades now, I’ve been self-sufficient. I’ve been responsible for myself. In many ways, I like it that way.

So I know independence and self-sufficiency well, and I’m comfortable there. But, of course, being human is all about connection. My life is rich in partnership and deep connections. At home, I’m blessed with a long-term partner, with whom I've shared the gift of parenting our now college graduate son. At work I partner with wonderful colleagues in creating together new models, amazing leadership programs, and challenging communities of learning. And on a daily basis, I get to partner with my coaching clients in creating the lives, workplace cultures, and impact they want for themselves. I love human connection; it is the very stuff of a full life.

So how does my love of partnership jive with my habitual practice of doing things myself? Even though I know how amazingly powerful and fulfilling human connection is, inter-dependence is still not easy. It’s a challenge to discover the values we hold in common, to effectively coordinate action with another person, to sometimes set aside what I want in service to the other. It is equally difficult (if not more so) to assert that (sometimes) putting myself first is okay. Self-sufficiency was easy to learn and it’s second nature to me. Interdependence feels like a lifelong journey of learning.

And maybe that is the point, really—that we don’t ever stop learning. Maybe we never get so comfortable and so in a groove that we think we’ve got it mastered. Default to inter-dependence, and you risk disappointment. Choose self-sufficiency at all times, and you guarantee limitation. I choose both--the joy of partnership and connection, the freedom of self-sufficiency. I choose the richness of life.

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Small Ann Deaton I am a leadership coach, and Managing Partner in Bounce. I love to coach and facilitate with individuals and systems experiencing significant change and growth. The clients I work with, regardless of their age or position, are talented and creative individuals willing to look with fresh eyes at their challenges and opportunities, and to take action based on their discoveries. As a result, they find that they are capable of accomplishing far greater things than they ever imagined. What do you want to accomplish today? Who do you want to be?


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