Overcoming dependency on the behaviour of others

Elon Musk

Another common type of “mis-blink” we can easily fall into during times of change is called ‘dependency’.

This happens when a person knows what they want to do but refuses to do it unless someone else behaves in a certain way. They limit their own behaviour or outcomes, conditional or dependent on the behaviour of others.

In many cases this is normal, healthy business practice: “I will deliver this service, but only if you agree to pay me XYZ amount.” Or “I will pay you XYZ bonus, but only depending on the quality of your service.”

But in other situations, dependency can prevent us from achieving our most important goals.

In June 2014, for example, Tesla Motors realised that the royalties and licensing fees it was charging for its batteries were holding the company back from achieving its strategic goals.

Even though these fees were normal business practice, Tesla decided to give them up. Founder Elon Musk explained:

“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal.”

Letting go of dependency allows innovation and new business models to emerge. When Airbnb and Uber let go of their ‘dependency’ on ownership of their taxis and hotels, they freed themselves to transform entire industries. Climate change is another area where many are refusing to do the right thing unless others take action as well. The result has been to worsen the crisis.

In this time of churning the old rules are breaking down. We have a choice: either to continue to apply the old dependencies or to “Do it anyway” and become the people, leaders, and businesses we most want to become.

Is there an area of your life where you are refusing to get the results you want unless other people first behave in a certain way? What would happen if you loosened that requirement, let go of the dependency, or just did it anyway? Equally important, what would happen if one of your competitors did?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By Tesla Club Belgium via StockPholio.net

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