Overcoming our dependency on the behaviour of others

The fifth common mistaken assumption or ‘mis-blink‘ that we can easily make in a time of change is called dependency. This arises when we know the action we want to take but refuse to take it unless someone else behaves in a certain way.

We make our own actions conditional or dependent on the behaviour of others.

In many cases this is part of normal business practice: “I will deliver this service on the condition that you pay me XYZ amount.” Or “I will pay you this amount of bonus, depending on whether or not you meet your targets.”

But at other times, making our actions dependent on the behaviour of others can prevent us from achieving the goals that matter most to us. We shoot ourselves in the foot.

The early days of Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors provide a good example.

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

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.”

Even though these fees were normal business practice, the company decided to stop charging them. Instead, it allowed other organisations use its patents for free. That accelerated the achievement of Tesla’s most important priority.

Letting go of dependency allows innovation and new business models to flourish. When Airbnb and Uber let go of their need to own and control hotels and taxis they freed themselves to transform entire industries.

In this time of churning, the old rules are breaking down. This means we have a choice: either to restrict ourselves with the old dependencies, “Because that is how it’s always been.” Or do it anyway and put ourselves fully in control of what we choose to do and not to do.

When we choose this path then we allow ourselves to become who we most want to become and to create the world we most want to create. We take another step to becoming antifragilein-dependent of what anyone else might say or do. 

This is the choice that Elon Musk and Tesla have made. What will you do?

Are you holding yourself back from achieving something that matters to you because you expect or require other people to behave in a certain way? What would happen if you did it anyway? What would happen if somebody else did it anyway, before you? 


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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