No B.S Friday: This has taken me a long time to unwind this one.
I was watching a boy tie up his shoe-laces the other day. Then he turned proudly to his mother and said,
“I did it. I did it by myself. I’m a big boy now.”
It was one of his first, and most important steps towards being independent.
Good for him.
But I also felt sorry for him. He was on a road towards bills and mortgages and taking the kids to soccer practice. Was he really going to be better off?
I wouldn’t give up all of my responsibilities if it meant someone tucking me into bed at 7:30 every night… Actually, yes I would. Bills are totally over-rated.
But it also made me think there’s a trap here. That we shouldn’t be too quick to equate independence with maturity.
I don’t know if other people experience this, but I feel like this has been one of my journeys in life.
I have been pig-headedly independent.
When I built my business I was determined to do it myself, until I lost a lot of money and sleep and I realised that I needed mentors.
I mean, damn, I remember the first website I built – back when we had to cut down all the materials for a website by hand – I was determined to do it myself.
Even though I’m hopeless with computers. And even though I had absolutely zero interest in being less hopeless.
I had absolutely no business getting behind under the hood and tinkering with the code, but I felt like I had to do it myself.
Because doing it by myself was how I proved to the world, and myself, that I was a big boy.
And I needed to prove that to the world because I need the validation of my worth.
Independent people are successful people.
That’s how you know how much skill they have. That’s how you know how powerful they are and how much talent they have.
If you can’t build a website or balance the books or tie your shoelaces by yourself, you’re dependent on others.
You’re like a toddler.
And toddlers are weak.
(I know from experience. I can beat 8 out of 10 of them in a cage match.)
Do you see the line of thinking here?
And so I had to re-program myself in a massive way. Because if I wanted to build a business worth $100m, there was no way I was going to do that on my own.
I needed others. I needed lots of others.
And that’s the thing we don’t tell toddlers. Generally, individual greatness relies on lots of others.
So this has been my journey – to stop equating independence with maturity and strength.
It’s not. It’s a tool in the tool kit.
Sometimes you want to reach for independence. Sometime you want to reach for a network of experts.
But none of that has anything to do with your intrinsic worth as a person.