“Unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.” ~ B. R. Ambedkar ~

We have just come through our national celebration of Independence Day.  That national freedom is what allows us the ability to develop independence as communities and as individuals.  Independence is not easy and perfect independence is impossible as we will always be relying on others to produce things we either cannot or will not make ourselves.

Self-determination is a concept where you are making the decisions in guiding your life.  The more self-determination we are able to develop, the more independent our lives and the more we get to take credit for our achievements.  A business owner has greater self-determination than an employee.  With that business though comes greater responsibility.  They won’t get fired, but they can go broke.  Their success is greatly dependent upon the quantity and effectiveness of their work.

Being independent takes something I call narcissistic toughness.  Think of it as taking the “e” off of ego.  The person you have to be hardest on and hold the most accountable is yourself.  The person who gets both the credit and the blame is you.  Right or wrong, the buck stops, if there is a buck, with you.

I like to surround myself with independent thinkers.  They do not need as much direction.  They are not going to be yes people who tell you what they think you want to hear.   With that comes something you have heard from me before, “Let great people do what great people do.”  With that comes a willingness to allow others to be right, especially if they are. Empowering others, allowing them latitude, is respect for their abilities. Come up with goals together and allow them to own them.  If they are an employee, have their compensation determined by how effectively they strive for and attain their and your goals.

For you parents, the sooner you are able to instill independent thinking in your children, the sooner you will develop pride in them for their own advancement.  Following the lead of the great Luther Burbank, I believe children will tell you when they are ready to learn.  Provide them with exposures and they will chart their own course.  This takes great patience and willingness in the parent to allow a lot of change and experimentation.  Yes they need the basics, but most children are not ready or willing to learn to read at 5 years old although some are ready at 3.  Just because you are still reading to them at age 7 does not mean they are dumb.  Albert Einstein’s grammar school teacher told his parents he would never be successful in school and recommended he be put to work.  In reality, the independence of his brain was beyond the normal school.  He left school at age 15, but later found the right education and had his teaching diploma in math at age 21.  His Special Theory of Relativity was published at age 26.

Mike Ferrier

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