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 arises when a person knows what they want to do but will only do it depending on someone else’s behaviour.

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

But in other situations, making our own actions dependent on the behaviour of others can prevent us from achieving our most important goals.

Tesla’s Elon Musk provides a good example.

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

Even though these fees were normal business practice, Tesla decided to give them up. As 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 flourish. When Airbnb and Uber let go of their ‘dependency’ to own their hotels and taxis 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. As a result the crisis is only getting worse.

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

That is the chioce that Elon Musk, AirBnb, and Uber took.

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


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

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Photo By Tesla Club Belgium via StockPholio.net

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