Which is better: being independent or relying on others?

A dilemma I often see, and have been in many times myself, is being caught between not wanting to be overly reliant on people – where they can let us down and ruin our lives – but at the same time realizing that being completely independent and not working with anyone is severely limited.

There’s an old African proverb:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Wise words, but difficult to grasp for someone like me who grew up with an Avoidant Attachment Style and found people to be constantly disappointing, untrustworthy, and unreliable.

But as I grew older, I also realised that doing everything myself was not the best way forward either. I lack the wisdom, insight and skills that other people can bring to the table, and frankly, it’s just more enjoyable to work with people than to be alone in everything.

So there needed to be some kind of compromise here.

Thankfully, I discovered a simple workaround. The trick is to rely on other people but to have a back-up plan of what you’ll do if they turn out to be unreliable. I call it a “pivot strategy”.

So if you’re waiting on somebody else’s decision, or somebody else is in charge of the next step, you need to have a pivot: a back-up plan for what you’ll do if they don’t live up to their end of the bargain, or if they take too long.

For example, when I first started coaching, I planned for if people failed to show for sessions – I’d just write a new article for my blog with the free hour.

I’ve found that if you always think like that – i.e., “I’ll work with other people, but I’ll have an independent back-up plan just in case” – then you get the best of both worlds.

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One Response

  1. You can do this at a meta level too, like always applying for better jobs just in case your current company turns against you

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