I have spent too much time distinguishing between independence and interdependence. Spent more time in confusing between the two and further more time on justifying how independence was the winner. But fighting against something so profound and true is a lost battle even before it begins.
Almost 10 years back, while doing an exercise with my mentor on "Personal Values", we had this discussion. I still remember every little detail of that conversation! He had asked me to write down what I stand for. "Independence" happened to be among the top 3 choices on my list. With a curious smile my mentor asked me "Why independence?" I had a long list of reasons why I chose independence - how I want to be on my own, not dependent on anyone for anything, have a solid career, and a lot more. He was still smiling (That smile, so curious and yet so assuring!) He asked me "Are you mixing up Self Sufficiency with Independence? Why are you not choosing Interdependence? It is a real virtue you know?" I certainly had a moment of rethinking my choice, but then, gave up as I was in the justification mode! I said interdependence calls for dependence and I don't want that. His smile transformed into a little laugh and he said "I get your perspective, but try to find why interdependence is a virtue and independence is not!"
Since this conversation, I have experienced every bit of it to be true! Why interdependence doesn't mean you depend on someone, as I thought it would be when I justified against it. The first requirement for interdependence is being able to fly solo! Interdependence cannot flourish in the absence of self sufficiency! You have to be self sufficient in order to benefit the true effects of interdependence. It is not complementing, it is co-creating. It emphasizes that 'we' is better than 'me'. Only when you are truly self sufficient, you understand the efforts of another self sufficient person and this type of team works wonders! On the other hand, independence has no scope for accommodating someone else. It is isolation and indifference to everything else but oneself. Sometimes I feel realization is that one thing which causes enlightenment and embarrassment at the same time!
Now I know why his smile was so curious, and what he meant! Independence comes from arrogance and Interdependence comes from modesty. Modesty that stems from contributing to a greater cause and respecting someone else's contribution to that cause! Someone rightly said, a true mentor shows you where to look, but never shows you what to see! It was for me to find out that you achieve nothing doing everything alone, it is the other way round, you cannot grow without people around you!
p.s: Sorry Sir, it took me so long to understand what was hidden in your curious smile!