Systems Thinking, Mental Models, Personal Mastery, Team Learning, Shared Vision

We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.
Thich Nhat Hanh


If we are not separate, we must be linked, even interdependent! I find the notion of interdependence both attractive and scary. The dictionary defines interdependence in a couple of ways:

  1. Depending on each other: unable to exist or survive without each other
  2. Relying on mutual assistance, support, cooperation, or interaction among parts or members.

I’m attracted because I like thinking that cooperation and service to each other is the way we’ll thrive as a species, maybe even the requirement for continued existence. There is an old saying, “When someone in a family breaks a toe, the whole family limps.” I know the truth of this because when someone I love is suffering, I hurt. I also know about interdependence in my body. When my tooth aches, the rest of me doesn’t feel well either. The scary part is that if we are not separate, but all of us are interdependent, what about the drunk who’s yelling epithets on the street corner? What about the mother I saw strike her child in the grocery store parking lot? I want to separate myself from them; something in me recoils at the idea that I'm interdependent with them.

In Glimpse After Glimpse, Daily Reflections on Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche says,

          If we are interdependent with everything and everyone, even our smallest, least significant thought, word, and action have real consequences throughout the universe.

          Throw a pebble into a pond. It sends a shiver across the surface of the water. Ripples merge into one another and create new ones. Everything is inextricably interrelated: We come to realize that we are responsible for everything we do, say, or think, responsible in fact for ourselves, everyone and everything else, and the entire universe. 


The idea of interdependence is pretty hard to understand, let alone embrace. But just pretend for a minute that it’s true….that we are inextricably connected to everything else and that our thoughts and deeds have real consequences in the world. Stop and get inside that belief for just a minute, then answer these questions from there:

  • How might you think differently?
  • What might you say differently?
  • How might you spend your time?
  • How would you experience your responsibility to other people?
  • How might you use earth’s resources differently (air, water, fuel, etc.)?
  • What else would you do differently?

Keep pondering this possibility. Interdependence just might be true. 




There will not be a telegathering this month because I'll be in California at a cabin in the high Sierras enjoying a reunion with my four best highschool girlfriends! 51 years after we graduated!


Read an excerpt from Liberating Greatness, the Whole Brain Guide to an Extraordinary Life, the book Hal and I wrote, at

Reach me: 1-888-907-HOPE (4673)or e-mail I am a personal and executive coach and would be happy to offer you a complimentary coaching session by phone. Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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