“We should remember that effective interdependence can only be built on a foundation of true independence.
We’re dealing with a very dramatic and very fundamental paradigm shift here. You may try to lubricate your social interactions with personality techniques and skills, but in the process, you may truncate the vital character base. You can’t have the fruits without the roots. It’s the principle of sequencing: Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others.
Some people say that you have to like yourself before you can like others. I think that idea has merit, but if you don’t know yourself, if you don’t control yourself, if you don’t have mastery over yourself, it’s very hard to like yourself, except in some short-term, psych-up, superficial way.
Real self-respect comes from dominion over self, from true independence. And that’s the focus of Habits 1, 2, and 3. Independence is an achievement. Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make. Unless we are willing to achieve real independence, it’s foolish to try to develop human relations skills. We might try. We might even have some degree of success when the sun is shining. But when the difficult times come—and they will—we won’t have the foundation to keep things together.
The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but what we are. And if our words and our actions come from superficial human relations techniques (the Personality Ethic) rather than from our own inner core (the Character Ethic), others will sense that duplicity. We simply won’t be able to create and sustain the foundation necessary for effective interdependence.
The techniques and skills that really make a difference in human interaction are the ones that almost naturally flow from a truly independent character. So the place to begin building any relationship is inside ourselves, inside our Circle of Influence, our own character. As we become independent—proactive, centered in correct principles, value driven and able to organize and execute around the priorities in our life with integrity—we then can choose to become interdependent—capable of building rich, enduring, high productive relationships with other people.”
Two examples of those who had not developed their independence:
One boss demonstrated his failure to develop his independence with his public/private outbursts about disloyal, lazy, incapable employees then, at times, would endure a public tongue-lashing from a subordinate, without consequence. Interdependence efforts were a façade used to win favors.
Another was a staff member, involved with setting employee pay ranges (with other staff members), was unable to explain to his employees why pay ranges existed. When they complained, he would stop by my office, and asked that the staff meet to redo the pay ranges. Didn’t matter that the staff had done that many times. His independence had not developed, and being liked was his first concern.
Effective independence, and effective interpersonal skill hinges on self-principles, and self-discipline.
Next: Habit 4
The Emotional Bank Account