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  • Writer's pictureJason Kiesau


During my trainings I like to have people discuss dynamics of good and challenging relationships. I ask them to share why their good relationships are good and why their challenging relationships are challenging. Regardless of the group their answers are very similar.

One thing that always comes out of the conversation about good relationships is a dynamic of authenticity. They say things like . . .

“They are not judgmental.” “I can be myself.” “We can be real together.” “I can be authentic.”

The freedom to be authentic . . . to be yourself without risk or fear of marginalization or judgement is a big deal. Everyone deserves the security, confidence and comfort of being themselves. I think the journey toward authenticity is an important one, but it may not come without risks.


In my experience, many times the pursuit of authenticity is in response to negative feelings or circumstances. A feeling of not being yourself… a feeling of not having control… having life dictated by people and situations; feeling that’s not who you are or what you want. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey would call that Dependence. At some point people who feel this way come to a point where enough is enough and they fight like hell to breakout.

This breaking out likely results in a pursuit for independence and authenticity. They are self-sufficient. They are being who they want to be, doing what they want to do, surrounding themselves with people who support and validate this new direction; they are living life on their terms. They are no longer Dependent. Whether it's coming from a place of stress, insecurity or confidence, they have taken control of their lives and have become Independent. Covey refers to this as Independence.

Independence is more productive and self-fulfilling than Dependence, but there can be some blind-spots and risks.

  • People in Independence may be too self-reliant and self-sufficient. They may not seek support or help when needed. They may have the pride that comes with personal responsibility, while also making their lives harder in the process.

  • They may be too focused on their needs and goals; not considering others' or how their behavior and actions are impacting those around them.

  • They may be closed minded to others' contribution, opinions or feedback with who they perceive don't support this new path they are taking.

  • They may resist collaborating with others because they may perceive relying on others as weak and dependent and they have proven they don't need anyone or anything to be happy.

Feeling dependent... feeling like you don't have control is a tough place to be. The pursuit of greater authenticity and independence is productive, but the most productive phase is Interdependence. Merriam-Webster defines interdependence as:

"the state of being dependent upon one another : mutual dependence"

  • What does AUTHENTIC and INTERDEPENDENT mean to you?

  • How does a person maintain a sense of independence, live authentically, meet their needs, live life on their terms AND be interdependent at the same time?

The following terms come to mind:

  • Security

  • Self-Confidence

  • Self-Respect

  • Boundaries

  • Emotional Intelligence

  • Vulnerability

  • Humility

  • Compassion

  • Empathy

  • Win-Win Mentality

In 7 Habits, Covey says:

"Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success."

How does a person combine their efforts with others to live the authentic life they desire and deserve?

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