Can You Really Be Independent?

Guest Blog by Teresa Proctor.  Learn more at

“No one is big enough to be independent of others.” –Dr. William Mayo

In the western culture there is no bigger honor as to attribute a person’s success as self taught, self made, or his or her talent, but truthfully is there really such a thing? Can anyone really create success on their own without emotional, financial, or spiritual support? Every lone genius, original thinker, solo adventurer, and brave entrepreneur has indeed depended on someone at sometime.

As children, growing up and learning to be self sufficient gave us strength and confidence, characteristics we all need to be successful. By being self sufficient we are learning to dig deep for our courage and talent. We’re encouraged to be disciplined,  to be resilient and take responsibility.

But what happens when we become too self sufficient, too independent?  These days there are many of us who suffer from “By Myself Syndrome.” Who are too afraid to ask for help.

They are blocked from seeing opportunities to ask for help. They become blinded with “by myself syndrome”.  They can’t move out of their own way long enough to ask for help. True success requires letting yourself be inspired and aided by others.  True success requires perseverance.

The belief of individualism requires that a person not rely on society or anyone else for success.  Of course, this image doesn’t represent the whole picture.

To be original is a healthy goal, if you are living by your values and being authentic.  However in individualistic cultures, being original often means setting yourself apart and standing out from the crowd and this is when originality becomes confused with superiority.

Success is about being original and thinking for yourself and speaking your truth.  However, if you try to set yourself apart just for the sake of originality, what often happens is you feel alienated, insecure, and you having no real sense of self.

Therefore, true success is about being original, connecting with others, being collaborative, and finding your team. Even the most innovative and original thinkers need to have backing and support for their vision and ideas.  Originality with mere abstraction has little value.

There are many positive qualities regarding a so-called independent person, which include, being authentic, pioneering ideas, encouraging diversity, original thinking, unique endeavors, and showing respect for one and all.  One such individual who inspired the world with new thoughts and new ways was Albert Einstein, with his book, The World As I See It,  in which he praises the strengths of independence, in this passage:

Only the individual can think, and thereby create new values for society-nay, even set up new moral standards to which the life of the community conforms.  Without creative, independent thinking and judging personalities the upward development of society is as unthinkable as the development of the individual personality with the nourishing soil of the community.

However, when you take independence out of context, we cast a shadow that is fear, misunderstanding, and insecurity.  A dogged attitude of “it’s my way or the highway,” is a very common block for success, in all areas, work, life and relationships.  No one is totally independent and the belief in total independence makes for many difficulties.  Complete self reliance, which rules negates all offers of help, is a fallacy.  When we are bent on being independent, it cuts us off from the team.  Absolute independence is egotistical and unnecessary. Being locked into the “by myself syndrome,” only alienates you from the creativity, wisdom and intelligence of the group.

Einstein praises the virtues of independence, while balancing this with community and his experience of connectivity and oneness of life.  In truth, no one is independent, everyone is interdependent and whole.

Again, in The World As I See It, Einstein writes, “ A hundred times everyday, I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received myself and am still receiving.”

Authentic Success Tips

  • Stop thinking as if you are a particle and see yourself as a wave.  Make a list of every person on your team.  These are the people you love and respect, whom you want to support, and who want to support you.  Take your time and think carefully.
  • Next, explore how you could be more of a team player in life and at work.  Whom could you connect with more, offer more support too. Whom could you ask for help from?  True success comes when a collaborative venture serves the whole.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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