When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be independent.
Independent from school, independent from my parents, independent from any organized group of any kind.
I wanted my freedom. And I wanted not to have to rely on anyone else for anything.
I believed the source of my so-called ‘problems’ was that I needed to break free of all those annoying people and make my own way in the world.
Because it's not as if the world is made up of people or anything.
As comical as that viewpoint sounds to me now, it took me years to really understand what John Donne meant when he said No man is an island.
And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s struggled with this concept.
It seems like many of us (especially if we’ve got an entrepreneurial or creative bent) seem to think we can do it all alone. In fact, many of us think we can do it all better than anyone else- so going it alone seems like the only option.
In the past 20 years I’ve come to realize that leading is a lot different from ‘doing it all yourself’.
That we all need each other to survive.
That we are hard-wired to be interdependent.
And because of that, we’re interdependent whether we like it or not.
Yep, that’s right. Like it or not, what you do affects me, and vice versa.
Each action I take starts in motion a chain of events that can’t help but affect others, just like a butterfly’s flapping wings can eventually lead to a hurricane.
Knowing that, it seemed to me that the most socially responsible decision I could make this Independence Day was to come up with my own declaration, a declaration of my “freedom from control or influence” (as the Oxford dictionary defines it) of the things that aren’t good for me, you, or the planet.
This declaration had to be about how I could live more fully, love more freely, and make a greater difference in the world.
In short, how I could become a better citizen of this interdependent universe we live in.
So here it is, my declaration of independence from the thoughts, emotions, and habits that have the potential to cause shenanigans as far as Shanghai.
I hereby declare my independence from:
- Attempting to live other people’s lives for them by criticizing them openly, under my breath, or in my thoughts (or loudly while driving)
- The internal dialogue of complaints my mind loves to serve up about what isn’t working in my life (someone’s attitude, the traffic, a meeting I’m ‘stuck’ in. . .)
- Fear of making a massive difference in the world and thus attracting too much attention to myself (which means I would have to- gasp!- keep going rather than giving up like a wuss)
- Impatience with the process and a blinding focus on the outcome
- The need to have everyone like me- which has already gone unmet for, like, 41 years (what have I been thinking??)
- The tendency to diminish my own greatness, a habit which is an utter slap in the face to the Creator that lovingly made me - and exists within me, I might add
- Taking my life and myself too seriously, as if it’s anything more than just a big ol’ adventure ride anyway
- Forgetting to be thankful for Every. Single. Moment. Of every day.
I declare my freedom from the control or influence of these thoughts, habits, or emotions, so that the world the next generation leads will be more full of love, compassion, understanding, forgiveness- and yes, peace- than ever before.
Let today be the day you declare your own independence.
And, in doing so, foster the interdependence we so desperately crave as humans.
Take some time to think about what you'd like to break free from, and how you’re contributing to this great big global society we call home.
We're depending on you (wink).